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How to choose the right upholstery fabric

Woman Reading On Quality Upholstery Fabric Sofa

After years of providing the perfect spot for cuddles, naps, and evening meals, your sofa (despite your best efforts) is bound to be looking a little worse for wear.

Whether it’s a stained sofa cushion or a torn arm rest, fabric damage is inevitable on well-loved sofas. And, while many sofa fabrics can be cleaned up easily, the real issues occur when spots and spillages are beyond repair.

So, what do you do when damage strikes? You get it reupholstered. 

Giving you the chance to restyle your favourite furniture, reupholstering is ideal for transforming tired textiles into eye-catching works of art. What’s more, it’s much cheaper (and far less effort) than buying in a new sofa – all you need to make your furniture look as good as new is to choose a fabric. 

If you’re unsure which upholstery fabric will look right in your space, simply browse our expert picks, below, to get started.

Choosing a colour and pattern

Colourful Upholstery Fabric

Whether you’re keeping the same classic style or prefer a dramatic change, the main goal when looking for a new sofa fabric is to find one which complements – and enhances - your existing décor.

This means, firstly, you need to look at your current colour scheme. For instance, do your centrepieces (coffee tables, carpets, etc.) share certain shades? Could your space do with an injection of colour, or would a softer tone be more suitable?

Once you’ve got to grips with your décor and its colour scheme, you can then start looking at your favourite fabrics. For a fabric which looks stylish with almost every décor, we recommend neutral tones. For instance, our Amalfi range offers a great choice of natural, calming tones in stunning faux velvet. If you are looking to go bold with your new sofa, on the other hand, our Cardinal range includes everything from bright fuchsia to deep burgundy – ideal choices if you’re looking to make a statement with your sofa.

As for patterns, you want a design which demands attention without standing out like a sore thumb. To get this look, think about what your current décor needs. For instance, if you have a minimalistic décor, a funky floral sofa would be the eye-catching focus you need. Similarly, if your space looks busy, a sofa with clean lines and subtle motifs ties together a lounge’s main features beautifully.

Being practical

Once you’ve decided on your favourite complementary colours and styling designs, the next step is to think about the practicalities of your chosen fabric.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start by taking a look at the fabric’s rub count. Usually shown on the fabric’s specifications, rub count is essentially the number of times a machine can ‘rub’ the fabric until it shows signs of wear. The most hardwearing upholstery fabrics, in this case, are those with a high rub count (around 15,000-30,000). Anything over this is considered ‘highly durable’ - our Amalfi fabric, for instance, can handle a whopping 60,000 rubs before it starts to degrade.

You can also identify a durable fabric by its thread count (this is the number of threads per square inch of fabric). In general, fabrics with a high thread count are best for frequent use as they are denser and, therefore, more durable. Many woven textiles, like our Hendon fabric, are well-known for their high thread counts, making them a great choice for family sofas.

Suiting your environment

Dog Asleep On Stain Resistance Upholstery Fabric Sofa

The final step is the simplest. For this, you should consider the logistical factors, such as where your sofa is going to go, who is going to be sharing it and how they’ll be using it.

For instance, sofas which are frequently used will need to have a higher rub count than those which are only used for guests. Similarly, resilient synthetic fabrics (like our Kentash fabrics) are ideal for households with pets and small children, while sofas with luxurious natural fibres are better suited for special occasions.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a high quality ‘all-rounder’, we recommend our Aquaclean range. As the name suggests, this type of fabric is ideal for tackling spillages and stains without causing any damage to the fabric’s lovely exterior.  

Now you know what to look for in a quality upholstery fabric, the next step is to find your favourites. For some of the best upholstery fabrics online, browse the Plumbs website.

Sally is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbs. Prior to Plumbs, she ran the digital marketing strategy for Johnson’s Cleaners UK. Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is Homes Under the Hammer. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

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