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Choosing Upholstery Fabric

Choosing Upholstery Fabric

Considering buying some new upholstery? If you are like most of us, shopping for upholstered furniture can become a confusing task. There are so many different styles, patterns, prints, construction techniques and durability characteristics that it is often difficult to know where to start. The choice you make will have a big impact on your furniture and the room it occupies.  
To make a knowledgeable purchasing decision, there are some considerations to be taken into account.  Any time spent in pre-purchase planning will help you to buy with confidence, in the knowledge that your newly purchased upholstery will serve you well for many years to come.

What to consider before you purchase:

Fabric Grades

Fabric grades are organised and grouped to suite different budgets, requirements and preferences. Each group has its own characteristics. Some are strong and durable and take a lot of wear, others soft and delicate favour occasional use and are to be admired.


What furniture style are you looking to buy? Is it contemporary, relaxed, transitional or classic? Some fabrics appear to be more casual while others appear more formal. Often the choice of fabrics will be chosen to suite the type of frame it covers.


As colour always influences the tone of the room it is therefore an important factor in your chosen fabric. First consider if the fabric has a warm or a cool tone to it, as that could well be the tone of your newly furnished room. Trendy colours may look well at present, however will you still be ecstatic when the trend moves on. Light colours will lighten a room, but is this best choice where children and pets are putting your new upholstery to the test.


If you are considering a pattern take note of the size, scale and dimensions. Patterns, when chosen, should suite the size of the furniture it’s covering and also the size of the room. As a guide view your pattern from a distance and look at in in the overall context of the room. Big bold patterns tend to look better in larger rooms, while smaller subtle patterns suite smaller rooms. As with colour mentioned earlier patterns also follow a trend. If this is a concern it may be a better option to go for a plain fabric or one that has a very light pattern.


You will want your fabric to look good, wear well and last for a long time. This is especially important if it your upholstery is placed in a room having high traffic. If you expect to experience heavy use, then you need to choose a good quality hard-wearing fabric.

Fade Resistance

UV light will over time cause irreversible fading to your upholstery fabric. If you expect your upholstery to be exposed to sunlight it is wise to invest in a fade resistant fabric. Also look for fabrics having a high thread count as these tend to be more fade resistant.

What Fabrics are available:


This is a durable, natural fabric that wears well. It dyes easily and exposure to sunlight can cause the fibre to yellow. Cotton can be damaged by mildew. Blending with other fibres gives a more stain and wrinkle resistant quality. The blending creates a more durable fabric which lends itself to heavier use.


Linen is a wonderful fabric with a crisp clean feel. It does not pill or fade easily, but is not very resistant to soiling and may wrinkle easily. Linen can be weakened by sunlight and damaged by mildew when exposed to a humid environment.


An elegant fabric, but not very durable. Silk covered upholstery is best used in formal areas with light use. This type of fabric will require professional cleaning to keep it looking its best.


A durable and heavy fabric, wool is often blended with other synthetic fibres when uses to cover upholstery. This strong fabric resists pilling, fading, wrinkling and soiling.


This fabric is generally a softer texture than that of wool and offers good resistance to fading when placed in sunlight.


Polyester is very often blended with other fabrics, making it more wrinkle resistant. This fabric tends to pill and prolonged exposure to sunlight causes it to weaken.


This is a quite durable fabric often used to imitate linen or cotton fabrics. It tends to dye easily and deteriorate when exposed to sunlight. This fabric tends to weaken when wet.

As with carpet cleaning your upholstery requires regular cleaning and maintenance in order to keep it looking its best and to prolong its life. To protect your investment in these fine fabrics it is recommended that you have them professionally cleaned every year.

Should you require any help or advice on your upholstery or carpet cleaning needs please feel free to contact Brendan on 0121 472 3349.

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