Choose a Fabric that Performs (So You Don’t Have To)

by Guest Blogger


Keep in mind that better fabrics will be priced higher. Photo: J. Hettinger Interiors, 2016

Guest Post By Ron Smith, owner of J. Hettinger Interiors

Ready for a makeover? Whether your old sofa needs a facelift or you’re redecorating your entire home, selecting fabrics will be a key part of the design process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

First, when it’s time to select a fabric for your furniture, cost should be just one of the many factors you consider. A design professional can help you choose fabrics that wear well, clean easily and keep their color over time. Keep in mind that high performance fabrics will cost more then lower quality alternatives. The best performing fabrics, however, will clean easier and have superior wear, making them (in most cases) a much better investment.

Are you considering reupholstering your current furniture? In today’s market, there’s a lot of “disposable” furniture, most of which is only worth reupholstering if you truly love the piece or the unique way it functions in your room. You should definitely consider reupholstering any quality pieces you own. Reupholstering can give faded treasures a new life, and you can extend that life by choosing high performance fabrics.

You can get a good sense of a fabric’s future performance by paying attention to how it has been rated using the Wyzenbeek Test. The standard test of fabric performance in the United States, this is an abrasion test that involves pulling the fabric tight over a frame and then rubbing it back and forth with an abradant. Fabric is graded by how many double rubs it can withstand. A fabric graded at 100,000 double rubs is extremely durable, while a fabric graded at 5,000 double rubs is less so.

Paying attention to brands will also help you select a high-quality fabric. Some brands I recommend include Sunbrella and Crypton. Sunbrella began by creating awning fabrics for outdoor use, but they now have a strong line of interior products that wear well, clean easily and are resistant to fading.


Your choice of fabric should reflect your lifestyle; parents and pet owners may want something particularly durable. Photo: J. Hettinger Interiors, 2016

Crypton fabrics aren’t new, but they’re making a strong impact in today’s home furnishings market. Crypton is an engineered textile made with pretested and approved fabrics that have specific fiber and construction requirements. Approved fibers are permanently transformed with stain and microbial protection through an immersion process, and an impenetrable moisture barrier protects the fabric from spills. For example, when red wine lands on Crypton fabric, it beads up and rolls around, which makes clean-up easy and helps prevent staining.

If you love leather, you may want to simply purchase a new sofa because leather isn’t the best choice for a reupholstery project. Remember, genuine leather is only available as natural hides (irregular shapes), and since hides aren’t the same size, there will be a lot of waste.

Once you’ve completed your project, remember that even high performance fabrics require proper maintenance. Remove spots promptly and vacuum regularly to enjoy your furniture for many years.

Again, as you approach the design process, I recommend consulting a design professional—they’ll have the knowledge and experience to answer all of your questions and enable you to make the best choices. If you don’t feel confident in your selected professional, move on to someone else.

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