When shopping for the right fabric to upholster your furniture, you’re bombarded with a large variety of different fabrics that are available. Before you make a purchase, you should have an idea of what use the furniture is for. Is it for home or is it for a restaurant? Having an understanding of the nature of the furniture’s use will make the fabric selection simpler. Other things that may be considered when purchasing fabric are: color, environmental-friendliness, price, and durability.
Fabric vs. Leather vs. Vinyl
Because fabrics are able to dye easily, fabrics can come in a broad palette of colors and exciting patterns. You can decide to use just solid colors or choose a fabric with multiple colors and intricate designs. Because fabrics come in a myriad of designs, fabric upholstery can be suitable for any type of establishment. Many designers choose to use fabrics because it brings uniqueness to an environment that is not easily duplicated. Fabrics come in a plethora of materials from cottons and wools to polyesters and nylons. We can distinguish all fabrics into two categories, natural and synthetic. Natural fabrics include the above mentioned cotton and wools as well as silks and other naturally occurring fibers. Synthetic Fabrics are materials like nylons and polyesters that are man-made and easy to dye. There are pros and cons to each fabric type. Natural Fibers are soft, comfortable and breathable (allows air through, i.e. cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter). But natural fibers colors fade quickly and stain easily. Synthetic Fibers are great in that they are easy to dye and resistant to stains and fading. But synthetic fibers are not as breathable as natural fibers and are prone to static electricity for users.
Leather is one of the most durable materials used for upholstery and is very easy to clean. It can be lightly vacuumed or wiped with a damp cloth. It comes in a variety of colors and is able to withstand wear. Leather products also age very well, creating distinct characteristics that cannot be replicated by any other material. However, leather is extremely pricey as good quality leather can be very expensive. Leather is also made from animal hides, which may make some people uncomfortable. It is highly recommended to use leather for a restaurant. Restaurants going for a robust look should highly consider leather as upholstery for booths and seats as it will create an atmosphere that is similar to those of classic parlors and pubs. Because leather products provide such a luxurious yet rustic look, leather products are also the perfect accents to any surrounding. Most real leathers come in a sheet of roughly 20 sqft . And because the materials do not come in large rolls like vinyl and fabric, it becomes harder to use for upholstery and some of the material will be wasted.
Vinyl is a faux leather fabric that is made from plastic. Like leather, it is extremely durable and is easy to care for. Vinyl also comes in a wide color range, which can suit any of your needs. It is also less expensive than leather, but the pricing of vinyl is dependent on its quality. Because vinyl comes in a large variety of colors, vinyl products can be used anywhere. Brighter vinyl products can be used for kid’s rooms and schools, while darker products can be used for cafés and restaurants. Vinyl can be considered superior to leather for restaurants and bars because it is cheaper and compliments the décor of any room. The choices for vinyls have become virtually endless. Because of the versatile nature of the material, there is an endless amount of choices of its colors, patterns and textures. There are even vinyls that are made to look similar to fabrics and exotic leathers.
When upholstering a product, multiple types of materials can be used to upholster the product. For example, if you like the pattern of a certain fabric, but are worried about the durability of the material, you can decide to use a material like vinyl to complement it. For example, if you like a particular fabric but are worried about wear and tear, you can use fabric for the backing of the chair where it would not be as worn and then use vinyl for the seat since vinyl is more durable than fabric. This way, you can still show off the design of the fabric while ensuring that the chair or banquette will stand up to prolonged use.
Thank you, from your friends at Maxsun Furnishings!
– Jason Lin
Photos Courtesy of: Douglass Fabrics United Fabrics Concertex® Tigerleather