What Is Upholstery Fabric?

24th April, 2023

What is upholstery fabric?



Ever wondered the significance of upholstery fabric for your furniture or wondered what it is?

Are you a first timer in upholstering?

In this blog, we will understand about upholstery fabric, describe its numerous varieties, and explain why it’s crucial for producing furniture that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.


What Is Upholstery Fabric?


Upholstery fabric is a type of textile that is used to cover furniture such as chairs, sofas, benches, footstools, pillows, cushion and many more applications.

These fabrics are typically thicker and more heavyweight than other types of fabric, as it is designed to be durable and comfortable.

Materials like cotton, linen, wool, silk, and synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon, can be used. You will find more about each fabric in the next section.

Apart from practicality and functionality, upholstery fabrics also contribute to the aesthetic appeal of furniture designs.



What Is The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Upholstery Fabrics?


The origin of upholstery fabrics is what differentiates them most from synthetic and natural materials.

Natural fabrics, like cotton, wool, linen and silk are created using materials that can be found in nature whereas synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon, and vinyl, are created using chemical compounds.

While synthetic materials are typically more robust and stain-resistant, natural fabrics are frequently more breathable and comfortable.

Personal preferences and the intended use of the furniture ultimately determine whether to use natural or synthetic materials.


What is upholstery fabric



Fabrics Used For Upholstery


Natural Fabrics:




Cotton is a well-liked fabric for upholstery because of its sturdiness, affordability, and adaptability.

It is a natural fibre that is gentle to the touch, breathable, and makes for a cosy choice for furniture. Plus, cotton is simple to keep and clean, and it comes in a variety of hues and patterns to match any design aesthetic.





Linen is occasionally used as upholstery fabric because of its toughness and clean, textured look.

It is a strong material derived from flax plant fibres, making it a wise choice for furniture that will be put to a lot of usage.

If breathability is a must for your project, you should consider Linen.



High-end upholstery is frequently made with wool since it is a sumptuous and long-lasting material.

It is a natural fibre with stain and wear resistance as well as insulating qualities, making it a desirable option for furniture in colder areas.

Wool comes in a variety of textures and designs, and it is frequently combined with other fibres to improve performance.




Silk is a delicate and elegant material that is often used for formal and decorative upholstery.

It is also a natural fibre with a smooth texture and a lovely, shiny lustre.

Silk is valued for its beauty and the way it reflects light, yet it is not as strong as other materials. It may also be dyed a number of colours and is hypoallergenic.


Synthetic Fabrics:




Polyester is a synthetic material that is frequently used for upholstery fabric due to its accessibility, toughness, and simplicity of maintenance.

For furniture that will be used frequently, it is a sturdy and durable material that resists stains, fading, and wrinkles.

In order to improve its performance, polyester may be combined with different fibres to create a variety of colours and textures.





Because of its strength and durability, nylon, is a another frequently used option for upholstery fabric.

It is a resilient material that resists abrasion, pilling, and fading, making it a practical choice for furniture that will see heavy use.

One the best benefits of nylon is simple to maintain and clean.





Acrylic is a synthetic material that is often used as a wool substitute for upholstery fabric.

This is due to its lightweight and resilient qualities that make it resistant to fading, mildew, and stains.

Acrylic is also easy to clean and maintain, and it is available in a range of colors and textures.

One of the downsides is, it may not be as breathable as natural fibers and can be prone to pilling over time.




Although not fully synthetic, Rayon is commonly used for upholstery fabric due to its softness and versatility.

It is made from natural cellulose fibers that are chemically treated to create a soft, durable material that resembles silk.

Rayon can be combined with other fibres to improve performance and is available in a variety of textures and patterns.




Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is a synthetic material commonly used in upholstery fabric due to its durability and resistance to stains, moisture, and mildew.

It is made from petroleum and is known for its strength and colorfastness, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas or households with children or pets.

Because of its capacity to survive harsh weather conditions and excellent resistance to fading and abrasion, olefin is frequently used in outdoor furniture.

On the other hand, it might not feel as opulent as organic fibres like cotton or wool.


Faux Leather


Faux leather, also known as synthetic leather or PU leather, is a popular alternative to genuine leather for upholstery fabric.

Usually constructed of a polyurethane (PU) or PVC material that has been given a leather-like feel and look.

Faux leather upholstery is a sensible option because to its long lifespan, resistance to stains and dampness, and ease of upkeep.

Not only more ethically right, faux leather is also typically less expensive than genuine leather, making it a more cost-effective choice for people on a tight budget.




How Do I Choose The Best Fabric For My Upholstery Project?




Durability is an important consideration when it comes to upholstery, especially if you have kids, animals or plan to use the furniture frequently. (Unless it is only my kids…😂)

You should think about selecting fabrics produced from synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, olefin, or acrylic for best durability.

Compared to natural textiles, these fabrics are more stain and spill resistant and more durable.

Leather is a sturdy, long-lasting material that, with proper care, may last for many years, making it another fantastic choice for durability.




Aesthetics refers to the visual appeal of the fabric and how it complements the overall feeling and mood of the room and/or house.

Natural textiles like cotton, linen, silk, and wool are preferred for upholstery because they come in a variety of colours, patterns and designs.

If you want to go down the synthetic materials route like nylon, polyester, and acrylic, these can also be produced in a wide range of colours, patterns and designs to approximate the appearance and texture of natural materials.

Faux leather is a great option for aesthetics as well because it can mimic the look and feel of real leather at a reduced price.




The overall comfort and feel of the furniture are significantly influenced by the texture of the upholstery fabric.

Cotton, wool, and silk are examples of soft, fluffy materials that may give furniture a warm, welcoming feel.

In contrast, the texture of synthetic textiles like polyester and nylon can be stiffer and more rigid.

Consider using materials with a soft and opulent texture, such plush velvet or chenille.

Faux leather can be the ideal choice for a sleeker, more contemporary look.




Consider maintenance when choosing an upholstery fabric and choose one that suits your lifestyle and level of maintenance commitment.

The difference between synthetic and natural fabrics is fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic, and olefin are often more resistant to stains and can be cleaned more easily with a damp cloth or mild cleaning solution.

On the other hand, natural fabrics may need particular handling and require to be cleaned by experts.

To prevent the fabric from being harmed, it’s crucial to regularly check and carefully follow the care recommendations on your upholstery fabric.

Regular vacuuming or brushing of loose dirt and debris can also aid in stain avoidance and maintain the fabric’s appearance.

To learn how to clean and maintain your upholstery fabric, please refer to this blog post.



What Is The Difference Between Fabric and Upholstery Fabric?


Although fabric and upholstery fabric share many similarities, there are also some significant variances.

The big difference is, upholstery fabric must resist frequent usage and wear which means it is often thicker and heavier than other types of fabrics used for dressmaking.





Choosing the right upholstery fabric for your furniture is crucial for both aesthetic appeal and practicality.

Natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, silk, and leather are popular for their comfort and durability, while synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylic can be more affordable and mimic the look and feel of natural materials.

Understanding the factors of durability, aesthetics, texture, and maintenance can help you make an informed decision when selecting an upholstery fabric that best suits your needs and lifestyle.


Visit us at UK Fabrics Online to explore our range of Upholstery fabrics.

If you have any questions, email us or leave a comment here.

Hope you enjoy this one.

Thank you!

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