Sunday, March 11, 2012
Choosing Appropriate Upholstery Fabrics for Period Decorating
We have written extensively about which types, colors and styles of fabrics are appropriate for certain historical period decorating styles (See the tab above to link to them). This blog provides more general information about Upholstery Fabrics that you will want to consider when selecting your interior decorating fabrics.
Many of us restoring or adapting historic homes will want to use vintage or antique furniture that will likely require re-upholstering. Others may want to purchase new reproduction furniture, but may want to purchase their own fabric in order to use a more appropriate or higher quality fabric than the manufacturer may offer.
Upholstery Fabric durability
There are many different types of fabrics suitable for historically appropriate home décor use. Whatever your decorating style, it is important to know some basic facts in order to be an informed consumer and select the fabric best suited to your needs. Some fabrics last longer than others and will withstand more wear and tear while others are suitable only for uses that do not entail a lot of use.
When choosing upholstery fabrics for interior decorating one important thing you will want to consider is durability or strength, which is determined by standard industry testing methods. When thinking about durability the first thing most people consider is abrasion.
It is important to remember that abrasion is only one of several factors that contribute to a fabric’s long term performance, but abrasion ratings are a standardized and commonly used way to measure and indicate performance so we’ve decided to start with those.
Fabric strength or durability is rated by “rubs,” which is literally a test that determines fabric strength by rubbing the taut fabric back and forth (a double rub is once in each direction) to simulate the wear a fabric would get from someone sitting on and getting up from an upholstered seat.
In general, North America uses the Wyzenbeek test to determine durability. A rating of 3,000 double rubs is considered to be equivalent to one year of use as upholstery.
A fabric rating of 3,000 to 9,000 double rubs is considered light duty. Light duty fabrics are suitable for upholstery if the piece being upholstered is mainly decorative or only used occasionally, such as when guests visit or a chair that is more of a decorator accent and does not get regular and consistent use.
Fabrics rated from 9,000 to 15,000 double rubs are considered medium duty and are versatile and appropriate for use in many rooms that get typically average use, such as a living room or family room.
If a fabric is rated 15,000 double rubs, it means it is considered heavy duty for upholstery use. This is what you need to look for if the piece you are upholstering gets daily and heavy use or if you have pets or active children who will also be using it.
For a fabric to be rated “commercial” it must have a rating of at least 30,000 double rubs.
If the double rub rating of a fabric is not available, there are other things you can do or look for to find out if a fabric is appropriate for your intended application.
That, dear readers, will be the topic of our next two posts.
COMING NEXT:What makes a fabric durable? More about Fabric durability testing.Types of tests.
How can I determine durability of a fabric if a “rubs” rating is not available?