Synthetics are they worth it?

They are not perfect, however, and once stained they can actually be harder to clean and may even need some special treatment. All fabrics have pros and cons, and its up to you or your designer to determine which fabric is best for you. Before deciding, keep in mind what the furniture will be most used for eg. if your piece is a sofa to be sat on and used every day, or if it is the centrepiece of a room, whether it is decorative or functional.

Here are some of the most ubiquitous synthetic fabrics that you may want to consider when deciding upholster your furniture:

Polyester has been around since 1941- most commonly used in furniture upholstering to aid in wrinkle resistance, reducing fade and increasing the stain resistance on the whole. Polyester is not biodegradable and can end up in wastewater and even the ocean when washed in the laundry. Luckily, with upholstery, this isn’t a concern and it also boasts a low toxicity and low emissions in its production and as well, can be recycled and turned into a myriad of products.

One of the strongest fibres, nylon is usually combined with other fibres to create durable, stain-, and wrinkle-resistant fabric.

Nylon is very resilient and can help prevent the crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. On the downside, it is sensitive to sunlight. Cleaning of fabrics containing nylon usually requires the use of dry cleaning solvents.

One of the most commonly used synthetic materials is Rayon, created from purified cellulose (pulp of wood) and is considered to only be semi-synthetic. It was first invented as a silk substitute in the 1850s and commercial production began some time later.

Though the early Rayon examples were highly flammable, the process has since been dramatically refined. Nowadays it is usually blended with other fabrics, it adds a great softness and comfort, and is great when used moderately.

Rayon is more biodegradable than cotton, but unfortunately the cost and emissions as a result of the production process are far greater- something to consider when choosing fabrics for upholstering. 

Choose fabrics by gauging the style of room and type of furniture. For highly trafficked areas or children’s areas, vinyl, micro fibre and polyester provide more durability and ease in cleaning. For fancier, less frequented areas, silk, linen or wool is better. Wear and tear is a fact of life and is not really avoidable with use, but exercised care will minimise it.

For more information on our Upholstering Classes or for any enquiries about materials, please contact the team at Padgham Upholstery today!