It’s the heart of a client’s living room … the throne of comfort and the centerpiece of relaxation. Yet as you glance at its worn-out upholstery, you can completely understand why your client wants to breathe new life into their beloved sofa.
Among a sea of choices, one question emerges: Which designer upholstery fabric is best for sofas? The perfect fabric blends aesthetics and durability. It elevates a living space to new heights of elegance and comfort while reflecting the personal style of your client.
While each designer upholstery fabric can offer distinct advantages, many interior designers back linen as the best upholstery fabric for their projects. Let’s take a closer look at some of your options and why linen reigns supreme in upholstery design.
Designer Upholstery Fabric Options
There are many types of designer upholstery fabric options
from which to choose when creating a one-of-a-kind focal point for your client’s home or office, or for a collection of chairs you plan to sell to a furniture company.
Organic cotton is a popular and eco-friendly choice and is known for its soft and breathable texture. Particularly organic cotton (versus its conventional counterpart) is grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, making this an attractive choice for eco-conscious consumers.
Cotton can also withstand frequent use and cleaning and can be designed using a wide range of colors and patterns.
Another designer upholstery fabric popular today is hemp. Hemp has gained popularity as an eco-friendly option and can be a great choice since it is very durable and easy to maintain.
Hemp requires less water than cotton to grow and is known for its ability to enrich the soil since its deep roots can help to aerate and break up compacted soil. This designer fabric is durable and resistant to mildew, bacteria and UV rays. Hemp chair slipcovers can also be machine washed and dried without the risk of shrinking or losing their shape.
While polyester isn’t always tied to luxury, recycled polyester is quickly becoming a trendy upholstery fabric to use in design. Made from post-consumer plastic bottles, recycled polyester is a strong and durable fabric that is resistant to stains and fading. This material also withstands the demands of daily life without showing many signs of wear. Recycled polyester slipcovers can be machine washed and dried without worrying about shrinkage to the fabric. This textile is also wrinkle-resistant and doesn’t require ironing.
Finally, another designer upholstery fabric that has been popular in the office and home decor industry for the past few years is bamboo. While bamboo flooring is often the focal point of a design, a sofa made with bamboo fabric can be a statement piece as well.
Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that does not require pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo is also highly renewable and can be harvested without killing the plant. This material is a strong and durable fabric that can withstand frequent use and washing. Because it is naturally resistant to moisture, bamboo can also be used as an outdoor fabric for sofas and accessories like throw pillows.
Why Linen Is A Top Upholstery Fabric For Sofas
Let’s face it … sofas bear the brunt of everyday life and experience some of the
most relentless wear and tear. Yet rather than break down and deteriorate, linen actually gets softer and improves as it ages.
Sourced from the stems of flax plants, linen fibers are known for their extreme sustainability and durability. Flax plants are grown in cooler climates throughout the world in countries like France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the growing process has been perfected over countless generations.
Because many farmers do not use irrigation or fertilization during the growing process, linen is a top choice for sustainable fabrics. Flax is also grown according to a crop rotation method, which regenerates the soil for succeeding crops, such as beets, wheat and potatoes. Linen is even biodegradable when it is at the end of its life cycle.
For active households, linen upholstery fabric is a strong and durable textile that can withstand frequent use and washing. Linen fabric is also moisture-resistant, making this a great choice for outdoor furniture. Linen can absorb dampness up to 20% without even feeling wet. That moisture resistance helps protect the material against bacterial growth, which can occur when there is hidden dampness.
For clients who have a goal of low maintenance, linen is generally easy to maintain and can be machine washed. There are a few tips that should be followed, including avoiding hot water and heat since this can cause linen fabric to shrink. However, most care items are common sense, such as never twist or scrub the fabric, and avoid bleaching since it can discolor the fabric.
With a stylish appearance that also exudes natural charm, linen can elevate any sofa design. But are there additional design considerations you should keep in mind even when you’ve found the perfect designer upholstery fabric for your project?
Additional Fabric Considerations
The perfect project outcome requires attention to detail, and while you may have chosen the perfect sofa fabric, it’s important to take advantage of all of your options.
For example, high quality wholesale fabric suppliers will offer a variety of fabric colors and custom printing solutions. Make sure you should never rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. It is always better to request a free swatch so you can see the color in person on the fabric samples and are more likely to receive the color you desire.
Keep in mind that dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. By creating your own custom dye lot, you can ensure your upholstery fabric features the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
Print services can also bring a project to life by creating a unique design on the sofa. One type of print services available is rotary/flat bed printing. This direct-to-fabric printing technique involves an image that is engraved on precision cut stencils, also known as screens. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design and can produce vivid colors and intricate patterns on your upholstery fabric. Crisp lines and detailed images are created using screen printing, allowing ink to penetrate the fabric and hold color better and longer for a custom print.
Digital printing is an ink-jet based method of printing colorants onto sofa fabric. This printing process allows for lower minimums, eliminates screen charges and removes the need for screen storage.
Here are some additional considerations that are important to include as part of your project:
- Protective coatings: Sofas sustain heavy wear and tear, so including a protective coating on your fabric can increase the fabric’s lifespan. Popular protective finishes include nano coatings, or a very thin transparent plastic polymer film coatings that helps to repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt, as well as Scotchgard and Alta treatments.
- Fabric backings: Manufacturers permanently add backing to luxury fabric to help prevent seams on the sofa from slipping. Latex backing is popular in furniture construction since this type of coating helps prevent soil from sifting through the fabric.
- Fire coatings: If you are designing sofas for a commercial space, the fabric you use must meet a certain fire rating. The state of California requires that furniture must comply with TB117-2013. This regulation requires that upholstery fabric pass smolder cigarette tests. Textiles used in public places must also meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law.
A quality fabric supplier or manufacturer will work with you to ensure you take advantage of all of the customizations you have available to you throughout the order process as you choose your upholstery fabric. The best suppliers will also ensure that your fabric is delivered in a timely manner and provide you with the knowledge you need to make the right choice for both you and your customers.