As the world becomes more eco-conscious, it’s important to offer your clients furniture that is not only beautiful, but also environmentally-responsible.
One way to achieve this is by choosing eco-friendly upholstery fabrics. Particularly for dining chairs, sustainable fabrics can offer an elegant touch while minimizing the environmental impact. Yet any type of furniture in a dining space must be able to weather spills, stains and frequent use. This is especially true with fabric chairs that may face off against messy eaters, sticky fingers and accidental spills.
Let’s take a look at some eco-friendly upholstery fabrics for dining chairs, and how they stack up in terms of sustainability, durability, ease of maintenance and overall quality.
Organic cotton is a popular and eco-friendly option for upholstery
fabrics, particularly for dining room chairs in a home or restaurant setting. Its soft and breathable texture, combined with its sustainability and durability, make it a good choice for furniture that will be used frequently.
Sustainability: Organic cotton is considered one of the most sustainable options as it is grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. It's important to note that cotton grown conventionally is one of the most chemically-intensive crops in the world with heavy reliance on pesticides and fertilizers.Organic cotton also requires less water to grow than conventional cotton. Choosing the more sustainable version that is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard will cost you on average 20% to 30% more than conventional cotton.
Durability: Organic cotton is a durable fabric that can withstand frequent use and cleaning.
Ease of Maintenance: Organic cotton is machine washable and easy to clean. Start by removing any loose debris or dirt. For stains, you can spot clean with a mild detergent and water or use an upholstery cleaner. Be sure to test any cleaning products on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the cleaner does not damage or discolor the fabric. Allow the fabric to air dry or use a low-heat setting on your dryer to prevent shrinking or damage.
Overall Quality: Organic cotton has a soft, breathable texture and is available in a wide range of colors and patterns. It is a high-quality fabric that is commonly used in design and is much friendlier to the environment than conventional cotton.
Hemp is a versatile and sustainable material that has gained popularity in recent
years as an eco-friendly option for a variety of products, including upholstery fabrics. In particular, hemp can be an excellent choice as an upholstery fabric for dining chairs since it offers several benefits in terms of durability and ease of maintenance.
Sustainability: Hemp is a fast-growing plant that requires no pesticides or fertilizers to grow. It also requires less water than cotton and can be grown in a variety of climates. Hemp is also known for its ability to enrich the soil since its deep roots help to aerate and break up compacted soil. During the growing process, hemp reduces the need for tillage and other disruptive farming practices. As a result, using hemp for upholstery fabrics can help to support more sustainable agricultural practices and reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry.
Durability: Hemp is a durable fabric that is resistant to mildew, bacteria and UV rays. It can withstand frequent use and cleaning.
Ease of Maintenance: Hemp can be machine washed and dried, making it a low-maintenance fabric. Hemp chair slipcovers can be machine washed and dried without the risk of shrinking or losing their shape. To clean hemp upholstery, remove any loose debris or dirt with a soft-bristled brush or vacuum. Afterward, spot clean any stains with a mild detergent and water. For larger spills or more stubborn stains, you can also use an upholstery cleaner specifically designed for natural fabrics like hemp. After cleaning, simply air dry or tumble dry on a low setting.
Overall Quality: Hemp has a slightly rough texture that gives it a natural, earthy look. It is a high-quality fabric that can elevate chairs in a dining room.
Recycled polyester is made from post-consumer plastic bottles. Using this textile is a great way to contribute to the effort to reduce waste and pollution. Despite its eco-friendly properties, there are some important factors to consider.
Sustainability: In terms of sustainability, recycled polyester is a step in the right direction toward reducing waste. However, it is important to know that recycling polyester still requires energy, which is typically sourced from non-renewable resources. Recycled polyester also may not biodegrade, which means that it could potentially contribute to microplastic pollution if clients someday replace their upholstered seats. At the same time, recycled polyester is still more sustainable than traditional polyester, which is derived from fossil fuels.
Durability: Recycled polyester is a strong and durable fabric that is resistant to stains and fading, making it a great choice for chairs in dining areas that get natural sunlight. Recycled polyester also withstands the demands of daily life without showing signs of wear.
Ease of Maintenance: Recycled polyester can be machine washed and dried without worrying about shrinkage to the fabric. This textile is also wrinkle-resistant and doesn’t require ironing.
Overall Quality: Recycled polyester has a smooth, silky texture and can be produced in a wide range of colors and patterns. It is a high-quality fabric that can add a modern touch.
In recent years, bamboo has become a popular material for furniture, flooring
and textiles. Bamboo can be used to create a variety of upholstery fabrics, including for chairs or slipcovers.
Sustainability: Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that does not require pesticides or fertilizers to grow. It also absorbs more carbon dioxide and releases more oxygen than other plants. Bamboo can grow up to four feet per day, making it one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. That means it can be harvested more quickly than traditional hardwords. Bamboo is also highly renewable and can be harvested without killing the plant.
Durability: Bamboo 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 for outdoor dining furniture and accessories.
Ease of Maintenance: Bamboo is easy to clean and maintain, and is machine washable and dries quickly. Bamboo is also naturally stain-resistant. Any spills can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge. For tougher spots that need cleaned, a mild detergent can be used without damaging the fabric.
Overall Quality: Bamboo has a soft, silky texture and can be produced in a variety of colors and patterns. It is extremely sustainable because of how the plant is grown, and can be used outdoors due to its naturally resistant to moisture properties.
Linen has been a popular fabric choice for centuries due to its unique properties,
especially its sustainability, durability and natural texture. Linen fibers are sourced from the stems of flax plants and 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.
Sustainability: Flax is an extremely sustainable textile and is considered one of the most friendly fabrics to the environment. That’s because many farmers do not use irrigation or fertilization during the growing process. Creating linen upholstery from a flax plant also uses less water than that of the cotton-to-fabric process.
Flax is grown according to a crop rotation method, with the rotation renewed every six to seven years. This regenerates the soil for succeeding crops, such as beets, wheat and potatoes. Linen is also biodegradable.
It’s important to note that when flax is turned into linen, very little is wasted. Parts of the flax plant that are not used for constructing linen can be used for other purposes. For example, part of the flax plant can be used for producing oil, and flax seeds can be used for consumption.
Durability: 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 dining spaces. Linen can absorb dampness up to 20% without even feeling wet. And, that moisture resistance helps protect the material against bacterial growth, which can occur when there is hidden dampness.
Ease of Maintenance: Linen requires a bit of extra care when washing and drying to prevent shrinkage, but it is generally easy to maintain and can be machine washed. In fact, one of the best features of linen is that it does not require extra care. While this type of fabric can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned using professional services, it can easily be cleaned and dried in an individual’s washing machine and dryer as well.
There are a few tips that should be followed, such as avoiding hot water and heat since this can cause linen fabric to shrink. In general, most of the tips are common sense, such as never twist or scrub the fabric, and avoid bleaching since it can discolor the fabric.
One of the best qualities of linen is that it actually gets softer and improves as it ages. So as long as basic cleaning tips are followed, dining chairs and other products constructed with linen will stay fresh longer.
Overall Quality: Linen has a textured, natural appearance that can add a rustic charm to any dining space. It is a high-quality fabric that is both stylish and durable. Linen also offers several health benefits, such as hypoallergenic (perfect for allergy sufferers) and breathable qualities. Because it is moisture-resistant, linen can absorb dampness up to 20% without even feeling wet. And, that moisture resistance helps protect the material against bacterial growth, which can occur when there is hidden dampness.
Work With A Reputable Supplier
While each of the upholstery fabrics discussed above is eco-friendly and offers several benefits, it’s important that you work with a reputable supplier no matter which fabric you choose to ensure you are getting the best upholstery fabric for your project.
For projects that require a large quantity of fabric, many designers and manufacturers turn to wholesale suppliers. If you’re eyeing linen fabric for your project, for example, the good news is that linen fabric is available from some wholesale suppliers.
Wholesale fabric suppliers, which typically are the fabric companies, can offer the best prices or quantities you need. Working with a supplier to get the linen fabric you need for your project can save you money in the long run, since distributors will mark up prices before selling the fabric to you.
Sometimes a designer may purchase fabric from a distributor, despite the cost mark-up, because some wholesalers set minimum quantity requirements. So it’s important to check with the wholesale supplier you are considering working with to determine whether there are any minimum quantity requirements for the linen fabric you purchase.
What else should you look for when choosing a wholesale supplier?
- Fabric that is delivered in a timely manner
- Customization opportunities
- Product knowledge to ensure the fabric is the right choice for your project
- Knowledge of where the plants used to create the fabric are sourced and how those plants are grown
One final note: Domestic suppliers may be more likely to meet your deadline, ensuring that your project is completed on time. By working with a company based in the United States, you are also more likely to avoid challenging time zone differences and custom delays, and have more options should something go wrong with your order.
A high-quality supplier will also communicate openly with you about how long your order should take to fulfill and be delivered to you, so that you can ensure your project deadline is met and your clients are happy.