How to choose a fabric sofa?

How to Choose a Fabric Sofa?

A sofa is the most important feature of your living room. So, to help you make a decision on which fabric sofa is best for you, we aim to help you understand the different fabric types and give you some tips on how to choose the right fabric for you.

Key contents within the article:

  • Why choose fabric?
  • What are the different types of fabric?
  • What is the quality of different types of fabric?

Why choose fabric?

Generally there are two kinds of sofa in the world: fabric sofa and leather sofa. Which one is the better option for you is a very personal choice.

Here are 4 strong reasons why someone would consider a fabric sofa.

Firstly, many people think fabric sofas are cosier than leather because they tend to be softer and warmer.

Secondly, these days fabrics are far more resistant than they used to be. Also, fabric is more resilient to things such as pets’ claws, keys etc compared to leather. The better the fabric, the better it will withstand wear and tear.

Thirdly, fabrics have a much broader range of colours to choose from. This is a really important point for some customers who want to buy a sofa that exactly matches their decorations' colour and style.

Lastly, fabric sofas is often cheaper than leather sofas.

Benefits of fabric sofas

What are the different types of fabric?

Generally, there are 2 types of fabric: Natural fabric and synthetic fabrics:

  • Natural fabrics refer to those woven from materials found in nature, including plant fibres and materials derived from animal products.
  • Synthetic fabrics are man-made materials designed using chemical processes. They are typically more durable and less expensive than natural fabrics.

Below are the different types of fabric commonly used in sofa upholstery:

  • Cotton
    • Made from natural cotton fibres, it is soft, breathable, and provides high comfort, suitable for everyday home.
  • Linen
    • Made from natural linen fibres, it has a natural lustre and texture, good breathability, and a cool touch, often used in high-end furniture.
  • Polyester
    • Made from synthetic polyester fibres, it is durable, easy to clean, and wrinkle-resistant, mostly commonly used in the upholstery.
  • Velvet
    • It has a soft velvety texture, providing a comfortable touch and often used to create a warm and luxurious atmosphere.
  • Nylon
    • Made from synthetic nylon fibres, it is strong, durable, and resistant to abrasion, suitable for frequently used furniture.
  • Acrylic
    • Made from synthetic acrylic fibres, known for its softness, abrasion resistance, wrinkle resistance, and colorfastness.
    • It is often used to create fabrics that resemble wool, providing warmth and comfort with good durability.
  • Microfiber
    • Made from polyester, this popular upholstery fabric has a velvet-like texture but is much more durable.
    • It resists water, stains, and fading, so it's great for high-use living areas.
  • Olefin
    • A good choice for furniture that will receive heavy wear.
    • It's highly resistant to stains, mildew, abrasion, and sunlight, so it can be used both indoors and outdoors.

In Singapore, while cotton seems like the obvious option for our tropical climate, it should only be restricted to pillows and cushions. On the other hand, a combination of cotton, linen and polyester is a great, durable option for a family room sofa. If kids and pets are a part of your household, microfiber fabric or acrylic is the way to go.

Types of fabrics used in sofas

What are the key factors in choosing a fabric sofa?

You’ve made the decision to choose a fabric sofa, but what should you consider when selecting a fabric? Here are the checklist for you to consider.

  • Durability
  • Colour
  • Maintenance

How’s the quality and durability of different types of fabrics?

When choosing a fabric, it is important to know how you will be using your sofa. Will the sofa be used everyday? Will your kids practise wrestling moves on your sofa? If the answer is “yes,” then you need a durable fabric. A few things to check for to ensure durability:

  • Look for the number of rubs in the Martindale abrasion test. A fabric should be at least 15,000 (like Cozylant's!) for residential use.
  • Fabrics made of synthetic fibre like polyester blend (like Cozylant's!) are generally very durable
  • Look for fabrics with tight weaves

The Martindale abrasion rub test is a measurement of the durability of fabric. It involves rubbing fabric in a figure-eight pattern, with one complete figure-eight counting as one cycle.

The rub test score is internationally recognised. For domestic sofas, you want a fabric that measures between 15,000 - 25,000. Heavy use will be 25,000 - 30,000, this would be suitable for a commercial environment.

SGS martindale test report for fabric

The fabric weight is another key factor to consider. Generally, the fabric weight for a sofa is typically between 200 - 400 grams/square metre (g/m²). If the sofa is for everyday family use, opting for fabrics with higher weight can enhance durability and wear. If you have children or pets at home, you may need more durable and easy-to-clean fabrics, which could mean choosing heavier fabrics. However, do note that heavier fabrics generally come at a higher cost.

Fabric weighing

Another factor for fabric durability is tightness. Fabrics with a tight weave tend to be more durable and resistant to wear and tear, which is important for families with kids or pets, though it might be less breathable.

For sofa where durability and opacity are key, a tight fibre weave might be more suitable.

Tight vis loose fibre weave

How to pick the right colour?

Fabric colour can create a mood or solve a problem. For example, a light-coloured sofa in a small room can make the space look larger than what it is. A darker colour may hide dirt.

Below are some guides that can assist you in your colour selection.

  • Grey / Beige (Neutral colours)
    • Versatile and can blend in with any room decoration's colour scheme
    • Timeless colour scheme that never goes out of style
  • Green
    • Bold and luxurious, bringing depth and colour to any style of living room
  • Black
    • Work better with neutral shades such as grey, white and beige
    • Recommended for rooms with lots of whites, including white walls to strike the right balance
  • Brown
    • Fits into any style, from rustic to traditional
    • Also mixes well with woods and other natural materials
  • White
    • Versatile and can pair well with almost anything
    • Creates a dramatic look when paired with black or dark wood furnishings
    • Also looks great when styled with warm colours
  • Blue
    • A blue sofa will liven up the interior unlike neutral tone colours
    • Makes a space feel casual and laid back, perfect for informal spaces and family-friendly homes

Pick a colour that you think you can live with for years on end. Consider a neutral fabric as you can quickly change a look of a room with splashes of colour on curtains, rugs and pillows.

Different types of sofa colours

Think about maintenance

Everyone wants to look for low maintenance fabric. Here are some conditions for you to consider:

  • If you look for stain resistant fabrics, leather and polyester blends are great for homes with kids and pets. Washable fabrics are also a good option as they come with cleaning codes on their labels when purchasing
  • If your sofa is going to be placed somewhere in direct sunlight, then avoid natural fabrics like cotton, linen as they will fade over time
  • In humid conditions, look for fabrics that are resistant to mildew

To prolong the life of the upholstery, vacuuming once a month is a must as dust and dirt can break down the fabric overtime.

If unwelcome odors find their way to your sofa, consider odor neutralizers or upholstery cleaners. However, always perform a spot test in a hidden area before applying these products to your entire sofa.

For persistent or deeply embedded odors, it's wise to seek the expertise of a professional sofa cleaner. We recommend our preferred partner, Cleanshades in Singapore, known for exceptional results in sofa cleaning. For a more in-depth guide on tackling stubborn sofa odors, be sure to read their blog.

Curtis sofa fabric highlights

Concluding remarks

After we know all the different types of fabric, what is the best quality of fabric? We recommend polyester blend fabric with cotton or linen. These fabrics are durable, stain resistant, stylish and comfortable to touch. They are a good choice for families with children or pets in Singapore.

Looking for the type of fabric sofas that we described but do not know where to start? Why not explore our fabric sofa selections, carefully curated to use fabric materials that satisfy all the conditions we mentioned above.

Last update: 2nd Sept 2023

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