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A Guide to Upholstery Fabric

Presented by SmithWerks Upholstery Cleaning

SmithWerks Upholstery Cleaning is a highly rated Vancouver based upholstery cleaning company

Upholstery fabric can be made from a variety of materials. It can be natural, man-made or a combination of the two. Each material has its pros and cons. To get the right fabric for your look and lifestyle it is important to compare them.
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Here is a list of the most common fabrics for upholstery:

Cotton is soft and durable, but it is also susceptible to wrinkling and can be easily soiled. If exposed to direct sunlight, cotton may begin to fade.

Linen is made from the flax plant. It is a good upholstery fabric for both casual and formal spaces. It naturally resists pilling and soiling, but it can wrinkle easily. Some linen slipcovers can be dry-cleaned.

Synthetic (or man-made) fibers such as polyester are more resistant to fading and staining than natural fibers. Many upholstery fabrics blend natural and synthetic fibers to offer the best of both worlds. For example, a cotton-polyester blend has the soft feel of cotton but with greater resistance to fading and wrinkling. There are many different synthetic fibers, but the following three are the ones most commonly found in upholstery fabrics.

Acrylic is lightweight and soft. It also resists wear, wrinkling and fading. This is a great choice for furniture in bright sunlight or near a window. Most acrylics require special cleaning.

Nylon, one of the strongest fibers you can find, is incredibly durable. Manufacturers might combine a delicate fabric like velvet with nylon to help prevent the nap (the raised surface) from getting crushed. Its big downside is that it is sensitive to light and usually needs to be cleaned with solvent-based cleaners.

Polyester is strong and durable and is commonly blended with other fibers to reduce fading (it stands up well to sunlight), provides wrinkle resistance and adds resilience to napped fabrics.

Stain-resistant fabrics. There are many fabrics that are stain-resistant, either because they are made from a fiber that inherently repels moisture and stains or because they have a treatment applied to them.

Slipcovers have a slightly more casual look, which some people might not want, but you should strongly consider going with a slipcover if you have young children or you are choosing a white fabric. White is hard to keep clean, no matter how hard you try.

For more information about our upholstery cleaning services, please go to our upholstery cleaning page.


When you research upholstery fabric you often come across the term double rubs. This refers to a test of a fabric’s durability. The double-rub test is done with a back-and-forth motion, similar to the wear that occurs when someone sits down and gets up again. The number of double rubs before the fabric shows visible wear provides the rating. The higher the number of double rubs, the more durable the fabric.

Frequently used upholstered furniture should have fabric with a heavy-duty rating (more than 15,000 double rubs). Less frequently used pieces, like occasional chairs or a sofa in a formal room, should be fine with medium (9,000 to 15,000 double rubs) or light (3,000 to 9,000 double rubs) ratings.

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Many fabrics may look great, be stain-resistant and have the durability you need but then fail on the most important test: texture. Nobody likes a piece of scratchy furniture. Your hands may not pick up on the roughness, so when you’re looking at fabrics, make sure to touch them to your face or arm. This is especially important for a piece you’re likely to lounge on, such as a sofa in front of a television.

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Every time someone sits down on a piece of furniture, dirt gets rubbed into the fabric. To keep the fabric from wearing out it is recommended that you vacuum your upholstered furniture at least monthly. When you purchase a new piece, make sure to read the care instructions, including whether you can clean the fabric with water. If you need to use a solvent upholstery cleaner instead, pick some up so you’ll have it on hand when something spills.

For a professional upholstery cleaning call us (604-924-0518). Our experts at SmithWerks restore that fresh, clean look. Feel confident that your furniture has been professionally detailed by a highly qualified technician.

Since 1999, SmithWerks has become the premier upholstery cleaner in the Lower Mainland by offering:

  • – The ability to deal with all fabrics
  • – Environmentally safe products
  • – Solutions and techniques which prevent fabric distortion or color change
  • – Specialists who can deal with a wide range of spots and stains

We hope this blog post helps you make the right choice when it comes to selecting fabric for your upholstery that you will love for a long time.

For more information about our upholstery cleaning services, please go to our upholstery cleaning page.

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