Need to cover something, but don’t know which fabric to choose? Let us guide you through all the different types of textiles out there, and you’ll find one which suits your needs perfectly!

Natural fibres

The fabrics most commonly used for upholstery are those with a higher weight. The quality of the fabric is determined by its weight, thread count, colour fastness and resistance to damage or abrasions.

Abrasion resistance is given in terms of something called the Martindale test. Fabrics are pulled taut and loaded onto the lower plates of the Martindale machine. Then, small discs are continually rubbed against the fabric in a circular motion. The fabric is inspected for wear and tear, and the test ends when two yarns break or when there is a noticeable change in appearance. Test results are given as a score of 1000’s rubs or cycles (a so-called Martindale unit), and the best result value is most often between 20,000 and 150,000 cycles for the most durable fabrics.

So, before choosing the actual upholstery, we must first consider the location and load of the upholstery in question. For office spaces, choose a more durable cover. The same if you have a large family or pets. In a pet and child-free home, a less durable one should be OK.

Another indicator of fabric quality is colour fastness, i.e. the ability of the fabric to retain its colour. If you are going to place the furniture next to a window in direct sunlight, ask the manufacturer about this value as well.

Natural upholstery fabrics are very popular despite being a little less durable than their synthetic counterparts. The most commonly used are, rather unsurprisingly, cotton, linen and wool. Although cotton is pleasant to the touch, it is also colour-fluid (fades quickly) and not very resistant to abrasion and stains. If you buy a sofa with a cotton cover, choose a removable one for washing.

Wool is a great, and often under-used material. It’s sometimes used to make felt - which has an unusual appearance, it is very durable and warm, but for some, it can be uncomfortable to touch.

Linen is one of the most pleasant and breathable natural materials, but like cotton, it is not very stain resistant. The aesthetic appearance and mechanical durability are then determined by the coarseness of the particular linen fabric.

TIP: If you have small children or pets and still don't want to give up a natural material cover, look for products with a removable washable cover option.

Synthetic fabrics

In order to achieve special requirements - especially higher mechanical resistance, abrasion resistance and lightfastness - synthetic fibres (polyester, polypropylene, viscose...) are added to fabrics. These include elastanes, which ensure greater elasticity of the fabric, or special anti-soiling treatments, which are welcomed by families with small children.

Microfleece has a woven backing (cotton/polyester blend) and a polyester top pile. It is dirt-resistant and easy to clean. However, it has fine hairs that can "shed" over time.

Chenille also has a tightly woven backing (again a cotton/polyester blend) and a cotton pile woven into it. It is not very resistant to stains and is difficult to clean. The chenille has a coarser pattern.

Microfibre (sometimes called Alcantara) is an artificial substitute for suede leather made from very thin fibres of polyester (up to 200 times thinner than wool), polyurethane and cotton. It is soft and has a velvety appearance. It is also strong and durable. With a value of 150,000 Martindale cycles, it is one of the most durable coating materials. It is easy to clean and does not soak up liquids thanks to the density of the fibres. Alcantara is also used in the automotive industry as a luxury seat cover.

Synthetic nubuck is a fabric with a non-staining finish. It is made of fibres (acrylic, polyester, polyamide, cotton) whose density and surface treatment prevents liquids and dirt from penetrating the material. It is very strong and durable, at the same time soft and warm to the touch. It is also lightfast and comes in many shades. To clean it, all you need is water and an ordinary cloth.

TIP: Only use water or the manufacturer's recommended products on specially coated upholstery, otherwise you will ruin the finish and void the warranty.

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