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Furniture upholstery, unlike other upholstery is like major surgery for furniture. While curtains and table mats can be changed frequently, one wrong move in furniture fabrics can cause much damage to furniture which we have to live with for years.

Before upholstering furniture, it is important to ensure that the construction is sturdy, corner braces are firm, and the overall structure is stable. Next comes fabrics, and they are available in plenty. It can be overwhelming to style and decorate a beloved piece of furniture, which chairs and sofas often become. It is therefore important to know and understand what natural and synthetic materials are, and how we can go about choosing them for our furniture.


  • Natural fabric has fibers produced by plants and animals. They are breathable and a great option for sensitive skin and people who suffer from allergies.
  • Cotton fiber is durable, soft, cleans easily and an absorbent. However, cotton wrinkles and fades easily. It is also very susceptible to stains and requires fabric protection to reduce blemishes. It cannot be used on chairs that see plenty of sunlight.
  • Linen is resistant to fading but stains easily and wrinkles. In places of high humidity, linen can grow mold and isn’t very hygienic.
  • Leather is a robust material, easy to clean, tough but softens over time. It is also available in many finishes and different grades with varying levels of durability and strength.
  • Silk is smooth, luxurious and has a natural shine. It is strong, resilient but is expensive and easily damaged by sunlight.


  • Synthetic fabric is made by converting chemicals into fiber strands. It is stronger and more durable than natural fiber, hardy and resistant to fading, wear and tear.
  • Acrylic fiber is durable, resistant to sun damage and dries quickly. It is tough and can be therefore used in outdoor seating
  • Nylon is also tough, stain resistant, and resists wrinkles but fades easily.
  • Polyester by itself is quite flimsy, but when blended with microfiber is highly resistant to stains, wrinkles, sunlight and scratches. It lasts for a long time.

Before choosing either of this fabric, it is important to understand the purpose, longevity and location of the furniture. Depending on what chair style you plan on upholstering, materials can be chosen accordingly. The three main pointers for the choice of fabric are,


If the chair is to be heavily used as in the main living area, a heavy duty fabric can be used for upholstering. Nylon and polyester are great options, especially considering children and pets.


Colors and patterns should complement rather than clash with surrounding room decor. A variety of materials with textural finishes add depth to the room. Neutral colors and clean, crisp fabrics suggest freshness, while woven, embellished fabrics suggest warmth. Printed fabrics are likely to fad over time.


Natural fibers fade easily. Therefore they must be used indoors and in cooler places of the home. Outdoor furniture must have fade resistance fabrics.

Upholstering furniture is often a one-time affair, since we often do it to last for years. It is important to do it carefully and get insights and inputs from professionals.

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