Upholstery Fabric Information

Fabric Grades
What makes a fabric a higher grade?

A common misconception is that higher grade fabrics are a better wearing 
fabric. Unfortunatley this is not necessarily the case. The grade of the fabric 
is directly related to the cost of the fabric and the amount of anticipated wastage (in the case of a pattern that needs matching). Many things can
increase the cost and therefore the grade of the fabric. 
Some examples are:
        – Cost of yarns and fibres used
        – The complexity of the weaving process of a fabric. 
          more complex = more time = higher grade
        – The number of different warps and wefts used requiring more set up 
        – After weaving processing: tumbling, backing, needle – punching
        – Piece dyed (uniform colour shade) vs yarn dyed (more complex 
          colour and layering)

Rub Counts

Rub counts refers to the abrasion resistance of a textile fabric. While rub
counts have become commonplace, one should use caution when relying
too heavily on them to predict wearability.
Most often, rub counts are based on testing done with a Wyzenbeek test
machine. This machine rubs a cotton fabric on the test fabric back and forth. Each cycle is one double rub. Fabrics are generally tested for their intended use and the rub count listed often represents where the test was 
stopped rather than the fabric’s failure point. While many fabrics are tested much higher for commercial use (and often have double rub counts
double rub counts exceeding 50,000), anything rated above 15,000 is 
considered heavy wear for residential use. A higher rub count doesn’t 
necessarily mean a fabric may be more durable, just that the testing was
done longer. Rub counts should only be a concern when they are lower than 15,000 as that means they were not tested to heavy residential use.

Fabric stength is related to construction and weave of the fabric. The more
yarn present and the tighter the weave of the fabric, the more strength that the fabric will have. When you do not have extra yarn and tight weaves, the only way to add strength to the fabric is to either apply latex backing or bond a fabric to the face fabric for strength.

Fabric Content

The major fibre types are normally divided into 2 types – natural or
man-made. Cotton and rayon are examples of natural fibers while olefin,
polyester, acrylic and nylon are examples of man-made fibers.
Man-made fibers tend to be more durable over time.

While knowing fiber content is helpful, it is important to understand
that the surface yarns are generally what receives the wear. A good example of this is a flocked velvet where the face may be 100% polyester
but the cotton backing shows a higher cotton content that may be misleading.

Many yarns are made of blended fibers to bring out the best properties
of each fiber. For example cotton fiber may be blended with polyester to 
add softness while maintaining the polyester’s durablility.

Fabric Care

To keep your fabric looking its best and prolonging its life it is  
important to rotate your cushions to even out wear and to vacuum with 
an upholstery attachment regularly. Vacuuming removes dust particles that would otherwise contribute to premature wear.

Every fabric has a cleaning code assigned to it that can be found on the sample. Professional cleaning is recommended using the following instructions.

W – Water Based Cleaners
To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to remove dust and grime is recommended. Spot clean using the foam only from water based cleaning agent such as a mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo. Apply foam with a soft rag or brush in a circular motion.
Vacuum when dry. Always pretest a small area before starting.

S – Solvent or Dry Cleaning Products

To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to 
remove dust and grime is recommended. Spot clean using a mild water
free solvent or dry cleaning product. Clean only in a well ventilated room and avoid any priduct containing carbon tetrachloride, which is 
highly toxic. Pretest in a small area before starting.

W-S  Solvent or Water Cleaning Products

To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing to
remove dust and grime is recommended. Spot clean with a mild solvent,
an upholstery shampoo or the foam from a mild detergent. When using 
a solvent or dry cleaning product, follow instructions carefully and clean 
only in a well ventilated room. Again test a small spot before starting.


Piling is a characteristic of many upholstered fabrics that results in excess 
fiber coming off of the surface of the material. This release of excess fiber 
results in small balls or pills of fiber forming on the surface of the cover.
This condition is not warranted by the fabric mills because it is not seen to be a defect, it is simply excess material being released. This is similar to the 
fuzzing experienced with new carpet or the piling of a new sweater. The 
concern on the part of most consuers is that the fabric is disintegrating
and will ultimately leave a bald area on the cover. That is not the case, as
with carpets and sweaters, the pilling will persist until the excess fiber is gone and then it will cease. The best treatment while this is happening is simply to shave the cover with a battery-operated furniture or sweater 
shaver to remove the pills and restore the look of the cover surface. This 
may need to be done three or four times, but the piling on the surface will 
begin to diminish and ultimately stop.