How to Choose Upholstery Fabric

How to Choose Upholstery Fabric (1)

Information on Choosing the right Upholstery Fabric

Choosing a fabric for upholstery can be about as confusing as trying to pick between what shade to paint in your kitchen. As you have probably figured out, there’s way more to choosing the best upholstery fabric than just picking out your favourite colour. You also need to consider durability, style, and what exactly the upholstery will be used for.

At Calgary Interiors, we specialize in Upholstery, furniture making and of course…fabric.  

We love helping people find not only the right fabric but also the right colour and texture for their furniture.  This series of articles is intended to help you discover different kinds of fabrics and hopefully guide you to the perfect one.  

If you need additional help with your selection we would love to help.  Fill in the form and we will get in touch with you. 

If you need help with Fabrics let us know about your project, we can help.

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    Key Fabrics in the Series




















    Fabric Durability

    Let’s have a look at some of the considerations surrounding fabric choice for upholstery.

    The first thing you need to think about when choosing upholstery fabric is durability. Fabric Durability will determine how well your fabric stands up to wear and tear and accidental stains. If we’re talking about upholstery fabric for a couch, durability is going to be the most important factor. 

    • Woven patterns are known to hold up longer than printed patterns. 
    • Fabrics with a higher thread count are almost always going to be stronger than those with a lower thread count. 
      • The higher the thread count, the tighter the weave and the more durable the fabric. Thread count refers to exactly how many threads are woven per square inch of your fabric. A fabric that is denser is going to last a longer time. 

    The most durable fabrics are leather and microfiber, as these can withstand more wear and tear than others.

    Fabric Style

    The second thing to think about when choosing upholstery is the style. You want a style that complements the furniture and matches with the interior decor in the room

    The best advice is to choose a fabric that fits well with the style already going on in your house. You also want to match the fabric to the piece of furniture. If we’re talking about a retro sofa from the 50s, be sure that the fabric you use matches that same 50s aesthetic. 

    There is actually a lot to think about when looking at style. Some fabrics are more casual while others are more formal. The style of your upholstery can make or break any room. Larger and bolder patterns are better for bigger rooms while a more subtle pattern is going to work better in a smaller room. You need to keep all of these things in mind when choosing new upholstery. 

    Whatever you do, don’t just go throwing geometric designs and leopard print over everything unless it matches the decor already in the room!

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    Fabric Colour

    Finally, you need to pick the best colour for your upholstery fabric. This is going to be a huge decision. The colour of the fabric that covers your furniture is going to dominate any room. You need to make sure you’re happy looking at this colour for a long time. 

    This is why neutral colours are the safest option when choosing new upholstery fabric. A bold colour might seem like a good idea right away, but in three weeks you may seriously regret choosing neon green for the centrepiece of your bedroom. 

    It’s also important to avoid fabrics with delicate colours if you have children or pets in the house, as even if the fabric is durable, colours stain easier than neutrals. Try to strike the intended mood by smartly utilizing warm and cool colours. 

    What is the Most Durable Fabric for Upholstery?

    The most durable fabric for upholstery is always going to be leather. Leather is the toughest fabric around. However, leather isn’t ideal when it comes to upholstery for certain things. 

    The next most durable fabric is going to be microfiber

    Microfiber that is made from 100% polyester doesn’t stain or fade, there won’t be watermarks if you accidentally dump water on it, and it’s easy to clean and remains durable for many years. 

    Thread Count Matters

    If you’re not into leather or microfiber, you can still make sure you get the strongest fabric possible for upholstery. To do this, you want to look for the highest thread count. A higher thread count means the more tightly woven the material is going to be, and this directly translates to the durability of the fabric. 

    If you want to test the strength of a fabric out for yourself, you can hold a piece of it in one hand and yank on it with your other hand, then do the same thing in other directions. If the threads are still tightly woven, you have a good fabric. 

    A good way to test the durability of fabric when checking out furniture is to just sit on it. When you get up, the impression you made by sitting on the fabric should immediately vanish. This is the best way of testing the durability of fabric for upholstery at a furniture store. 

    Linen For Upholstery

    Linen is a classic upholstery fabric. Linen is also made from the fibers of the flax plant and has been used by humans for thousands of years. Some historians even say that linen was once used as a type of currency in the days of ancient Egypt. Linen feels good, it’s durable, and it is just as popular today as it was thousands of years ago. 

    If you’re looking to get something upholstered in linen, you’re on the right track. But before you go through with the decision, keep in mind that there are pros and cons of linen upholstery. Whether it’s a sofa or an armchair, you should know how linen is made, when it does and doesn’t work, and whether you should go with linen or maybe a different fabric. 

    Linen is great for Upholstery

    What Kind of Fabric Should I Use to Reupholster a Couch?

    If you’re in the market to reupholster your couch, you have a few reliable options. But you need to consider your personal situation before choosing your upholstery. For example, if your couch will be used by children and pets, you want to go with something a little more durable and resistant to stains. 

    If your sofa is more of a set piece and not heavily used, a type of designer fabric will definitely be better for upholstery. Choosing a new fabric for reupholstering your couch can not only add more years to the life of your sofa, but it can also give an entirely new look to your sitting room. 

    The most cost-efficient method for reupholstering a couch is going to be cotton twill. Twill is a tightly woven fabric that has a high resistance to wear and is great for high-traffic use. It’s a good choice for households with both children and pets. Try picking a multicoloured pattern to cover up any possible stains caused by children or animals. 

    If you don’t mind spending a bit more money, you may want to consider microfiber. Microfiber is the strongest and most durable fabric for upholstering besides leather. Microfiber is great for resisting stains, it’s easy to clean with a damp cloth, and because it has such a tight weave, it doesn’t rip easily even when being clawed by naughty cats.


    If durability is a very important to you when choosing an upholstery fabric, visit Upholstery Fabric Durability Ratings.