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Fabric Advice - Information

Choosing Your Upholstery

Upholstery fabrics are either natural, like wool. or they are man-made synthetic fabrics.

Most quality fabrics available these days are sufficently robust to last for a long time, they don't generally wear out but they can become dull, subdued, or they "ugly out". More often wool works best, as it simply out-classes man-made synthetics, such as polyester.

Martindale numbers are used to rate the toughness of fabrics; domestic upholstery expects 20,000 rubs and 40,000 rubs is recommended for severe contract use. Many wool fabrics achieve 40,000 rubs and continue to look good after 20 years use. However, some Polyester fabrics, which may have 100,000 rubs, may look past their best after just a few years - even though they are far from worn out.

Of course, wool is a natural, renewable resource whilst man-made fabrics often rely upon oil, which is eventualy going to run-out. Polyester consumption is currently around 30 times more than wool.

Fabric manufacturers such as Camira are increasingly offering recycled fabrics, and interestingly, they are introducing natural fabrics produced from Nettles, Hemp and Seaweed.

Beyond colour and design, it is often cost that is a deciding factor when making a decision to purchase. That is understandable, particularly in the current economic climate, but if you have to live with the fabric and the furniture for the longer term, then it is worth investing in a a higher quality fabric that will look better for longer, and hence, may be more cost-effective in the long term.

Do think carefully about the type of furniture that you are buying and where it will be used. Wool works equally well on task chairs and soft seating and it will maintain its appearance better than many synthetic fabrics, which have less flex and are more likely to pucker or pull around curved soft seating.

As a result, some fabrics are not recommended for use on soft seating products. Do contact us for further advice.

Wool Upholstery

Wool is a natural and renewable resource that has been around for millions of years. It is one of the best performing fibres, with multiple abilities that exceed those of man-made fibres.

Wool has a microscopic coating that is like armour, preserving it's beautiful appearance for longer. Wool has a natural crimp which prevents flattening and it also resists wear and it's luxurious drape and it's stretch make it the perfect fabric for the curves and contours of sculptured furniture shapes.

Wool is completely natural, breathable and insulating and it can absorb and evaporate moisture for total user comfort. Wool is also fire safe thanks to its high moisture and nitrogen content, it is difficult to ignite, and in a severe fire situation will not melt, drip or give off toxic fumes.

The average wool fleece produces about 4kg of fibre which can make around 10 metres of fabric - enough to cover a large reception sofa or about 15 task chairs.

[This information extracted from information provided by Pledge Seating and Camira}

Cleaning Your Fabrics

The fabric on your office furniture could be cleaned - maybe they are a little - but usually they don't get cleaned as much as they should be. So it makes sense to choose a fabric for both colour and composition to help disguise the everyday wear and tear that will occur in daily use.

Bright, light colours can look fantastic when brand new - but after three or four years in a busy office, how bright will they look then. Wool is more forgiving than synthetic materials, but in either case, vacuum fabrics regularly to get the dust and grit out. If you spill anything, clean it as quickly as possible whilst it is still fresh.

Indeed, in areas where spills are likely, consider having a stain repellent finish applied.

Wool can be cleaned using upholstery shampoo. For a deeper clean, it is best that wool be dry-cleaned only as over-wetting can cause potential shrinking and can change the appearance. Ammonia, bleach or strong acids or alkalis should be avoided.

Synthetic materials should also be vacuumed regularly, and again spills and stains should be treated promptly. As these are man-made, they can be wiped down with a water soaked damp cloth without damaging the fibres or removing the colour. Stubborn stains can be removed with an upholstery shampoo.

When cleaning, we always advise to test a small area of any fabric, to test it before doing the rest.