Your sofa is the most used piece of furniture in your room and endures a lot of daily wear and tear. It is the largest piece of furniture in your space and will eat up a good portion of your decorating budget. Choosing the most durable fabric for your sofa will allow your investment to be enjoyed for years to come. There are several factors to consider when selecting the best fabric for your sofa.
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Natural and Synthetic Fibers
Fabric comes in two basic forms of either natural or synthetic origins and both have their pros and cons. Natural fibres such as cotton, wool, hemp and linen have a softer, organic feel and drape nicely. Natural fibres like silk, cotton or wool usually take dyes well and wool is one of the strongest and longest-wearing fabrics around. It holds its shape and always looks taut, never developing any stretch waves with use. The downside of many natural fibres is that due to their high absorbency they can stain easily and many often wrinkle and fade. Synthetic fibres are man-made from either cellulose (plant material), chemical or petroleum-based products. Synthetic fabrics can be made to resemble natural fibres but with better resilience to fading and staining and at a much lower cost than the natural materials. The downside to synthetics is that they are not as environmentally friendly to produce and cannot accept colour in dyes the same way as natural fibres do.
For high-use furniture a fabric with a tight weave is best. Weaving involves various strands of yarn and there are numerous methods to weaving with each one giving a different appearance. Look for a flat, tight weave such as a Twill or Herringbone weave. These weave patterns have a diagonal, step-like appearance and have better soil and wrinkle resistance than a plain woven fabric.
There are several abrasion testing methods for fabrics with the Wyzenbeek and the Martindale Abrasion tests being the two most popular. These tests take fabric that has been mounted either flat or pulled tightly and is rubbed either back and forth or in a figure-eight-like motion. The number of double rubs the fabric can endure before breaking or noticeable wear is observed and recorded as the fabric's abrasion rating. The rating for a high-use fabric should be between 30,000 to 50,000 double rubs while 60,000 to 100,000 double rubs is considered commercial grade. There is no proven value in use for fabrics that exceed 100,000 double rubs.
Contrary to some beliefs, the price of fabric is not based on durability but on the cost of production. A polyester fabric in a plain weave could cost more than a polyester fabric in a Herringbone weave even though the plain weave fabric may have a lower abrasion rating. Always look at the price of a fabric after you have considered the other methods when testing for durability.
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