''You may be looking to recover an old sofa, or buy a new arm chair. High traffic areas, such as family or living rooms will need durable fabrics. While furniture that doesn’t get as much wear and tear for example a cushion cover or headboard, needn’t be as robust.''
Applying the latest technology, gorgeous fabrics are being designed to ensure ultimate performance, even in the toughest conditions.
Thoughtfully considered and curated upholstery fabrics offer the perfect palette for designers and homeowners to add their individuality to a room. The textile business is evolving, technological advancements in upholstery fabrics now have everything from lux linens and velvets, to highly robust polyester cottons. These fabric compositions all come with a range of high performance benefits such as UV resistance, moisture wicking, anti-microbial and stain resistant properties. Across all of these upholstery fabric options the handle is becoming softer and the end result environmentally safer. The performance of an upholstery fabric is hard to know, and therefore shouldn't be based on looks. Fabric for furniture application needs to be chosen based on look, feel and peformance.
Check out information on how to best care for your upholstery fabrics here.
Upholstery fabrics are used for the covering of chairs, couches and other furniture. They come in a variety of colours, weaves and designs and are stronger than a curtain fabric. The style of your home and the function of the item being covered is also just as important. Is it a formal living room? Does the chair get battered by children or pets?
You might be wanting to reupholster an worn out couch or perhaps buying a new occasional chair. Whatever the piece of furniture, you need to think about how it's going to be used, by who and where it will be positioned in your home. High foot traffic areas, such as family or living space will require a durable material. While furniture that isn’t used as often, for example a cushion cover or bedhead needn’t be as sturdy.
Upholstery fabrics contain certain characteristics that make them more appropriate to particular jobs. Take a look at these attributes below:
Stain Resistant Fabrics
New technology advances in fabric design now include unique fabrics that withstand stains and spills. You can now rest easy knowing that your beloved furniture will be looking clean year after year. These fabrics are avaiable in many colours and designs and are an suitable choice for families with kids and animals. Generally, stain protection can be put on after the material has been woven or it is inherent in the fabric – at the yarn level. A topical stain resistant coating applied on a woven fabric has good ephemeral protection and is useful as a shorter term stain resistant solution. Inherent stain resistance is produced when the molecular structure of the fibre/yarns, used to produce a textile, have been engineered to possess stain resistant characteristics. The stain resistant nature of these fabrics will last for years and can't be washed out. See our FibreGuard range of inherently stain resistant upholstery fabrics here.
UV Resistant Fabrics (Fade Resistant Fabrics)
We are all enduring a vast amount of harmful sunlight into our homes - and it doesn't matter where you live in the world. But, even when you don't see the sunlight, damaging UV rays are still present, plaguing our furniture and furnishings and day by day destructing our furniture, drapery, artworks and floors. Did you know it's not the material fading - a common misbelief, it’s the dye stuffs themselves within the yarn.
All fabrics will fade under exposure to UV, the speed of that fading is where the UV resistance factors comes in. Through a combination of yarn type and dying processes, fabrics will perform to a greater or lesser extent under harsh sun conditions and UV exposure.
The Blue Scale rating is a way to understand the relative resistance a fabric may have to UV. The Blue Scale runs from 1 = very poor to 8 = exceptionally good. As a general rule of thumb if you are seeking a UV resistant fabric select one with a blue scale of 7 or 8, usually products achieving these results are designed for use outside.
We take great care to deliver outdoor designs with a quality of finish, a palette and a design style which could work just as well inside the home. This is ideal, as our lifestyle works between indoor and out, and these spaces are very much designed to flow into each other. Fabrics achieving a Blue Scale result of 6 will also perform well over time and many of our indoor products have succeeded in reaching this. Read more about how to apply SPF to your interior here.
Outdoor Performance Fabrics
Many of our outdoor fabrics provide a mix of high performance attributes such as UV resistance, soil and stain resistance, mildew resistance, high abrasion results and fire retardancy as well as the added benefit of being machine washable. This ensures their relevancy for residential, commercial, indoor and outdoor projects where high performance attributes and easy to care features are required and/or desired.
Designed and engineered for both outdoor and indoor use, these high performance textiles are durable, easy care and have fabulour sunlight resistance. Due to technological advancements in outdoor yarns, today outdoor textiles offer a more natural aesathetic with a softer handle and finer construction than ever before. This improves the flexibility of it's use helping them to work effortlessly in indoor and outdoor spaces where the fabric is exposed to direct sunlight, weathering and heavy usage. Outdoor fabrics should be woven with tried and tested fibres designed to withstand the enviornemtal conditions such as solution dyed acrylic and solution dyed olefin/polyolefin/ polypropylene. These compositions are proven to provide benefits in both the quality and longevity of the fabric in our harsh outdoor environment. Read more about high performing outdoor fabrics here.
Flame Retardant Fabrics
FR stands for Flame Retardant. FR properties can be either an inherent yarn quality, or applied as a finish to the woven fabric. Inherent FR cannot be washed out and generally achieves a high certification for fire retardancy. An after-market or solution finish applied to the material can also achieve a good FR rating in the short term but may lessen over time depending upon how the fabric is treated and cared for. Some 100% Polyester qualities can also produce a successful fire retardancy test result due to the nature of the fabric, which is inclined to melt in direct heat, rather than contribute to a spread of flame.
FR standards vary across countries and sometimes regionally within countries. When specifying a commercially applicable FR rated fabric it is best practice to check with an expert about the local standard or building code requirements and fabric suitability. The responsibility for attaining the appropriate FR certification lies with the specifier, as every project and location has a different requirement with varying context.
Anti Microbial/Healthcare Fabrics
Hospitals, clinics and aged care environments were once stark, clinical interiors. However things have changed. Anti-microbial textiles have evolved across technical performance, comfort and design to now offer good looking, comfortable fabric options suitable for these facilities making them more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Anti-microbial fabrics are inherently ‘bio-static’ textiles that will discouragne the growth of microorganisms and protect against yeast, fungi and bacteria developing and settling within the weave. These fabrics also offer stain resistance and liquid barrier properties, impeding the absorption of liquids such as blood and other bodily fluids. This is vital in the Health Care sector where spread of infection is of utmost concern and must be limited. Anti-microbial fabrics are needed for beds, seating and privacy screens in hospitals and hospice applications but also add value wherever there is a high traffic environment. Hospitality is a growing industry for these types of textiles as they too can be constantly exposed to food and liquid which can encourage the growth of bacteria, and also require high durability, performance, ease of care and cleanability.
Anti-microbial fabrics provide a stress free solution for any high-traffic, high use environment where large numbers of people will be interacting with the fabrics.
High Abrasion Results / Rub Ratings
A fabric’s durability is dependent on the quality of the yarns, dye-stuffs, weaving and finishing techniques used during the manufacturing process. All fabrics at James Dunlop Textiles adhere to tough testing processes to ascertain how durable and resistant materials are to abrasion/rubbing.
In essence, abrasion resistance establishes a fabric's ability to withstand the worsening or break down of yarns through surface friction as would occur in use through the contact rubbing of fabric on your chair or couch at home or other project.
Test results give critical data about a fabric's durability and relevancy for certain uses, allowing us to make recommendations about how to use them properly. We externally test all James Dunlop and Mokum textiles in Melbourne at a highly reputable laboratory who are amongst the most conservative and stringent in the world, due to the extremely harsh environmental conditions we face here in Australia and New Zealand.
Martindale Cycles is the British Standard, also recognised in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Wyzenbeek Double Rubs is the North American standard. They are mutually exclusive tests performed on different machines and with different methodologies, so a high result in one test does not determine or infer a high result in the other, they stand as separate results with no correlation.
For the Martindale Cycles test a small piece of the fabric (known as the testing swatch) is wrapped around an oscillating head which is rubbed against a standard abradant (wire mesh or cotton duck) in an irregularly looping figure-8 type motion. The machine is motor driven with an electronic digital counter to measure the number of loop cycles, or “rubs”. The end point is when two adjacent yarns break, or in the case of a pile fabric such as velvet the test will end when the pile has completely worn away, or when the count reaches 100,000 rubs – whichever comes first! The machine is switched off at this point because a result higher than 100,000 rubs is not thought to be an indication of increased lifespan. The test is performed four separate times, a final average is drawn and the result is recorded on our sampling as a numerical rub rating.
The Wyzenbeek Double Rub test is performed in a similar way, in that a series of small testing swatches are rubbed against a stationary abradant but in this case, instead of an oscillating motion it is has a backwards and forwards motion along both the warp and weft yarn directions. Again, the normal end point is when two adjacent yarns break, or the count reaches 100,000 rubs. Across the various tests, an average is drawn, recorded and listed on our sampling.
Essentially - the higher the number, the better the resistance to surface abrasion. To find out more on the topic of abrasion read our article here.
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