Buying upholstered furniture is an expensive undertaking. As a result, choosing the right fabric to fit your needs can be a challenge. You must first decide how and where the furniture will be used and what type of traffic it will have to withstand. An area that does not get much use can handle upholstery with light colors and fragile fabrics since it won't be susceptible to spills, kids and pets. However, the family room is typically in constant use as people relax, spill drinks, eat food and even take naps in the room. With more traffic and use, the upholstery in this area must be sturdier.
Microfiber is often used to upholster casual furniture. It is soft and has the appearance of brushed suede. It is sometimes referred to as synthetic suede. Microfiber (or ultrasuede) offers a plush appearance when "overstuffed" and is comfortable, making it suitable for dens as well as casual living rooms. The material is considered safe since it melts rather than flaming up under high heat. Ultrasuede resists stains and water, and wears well under abuse. To clean, just use a good upholstery cleaner with a soft cloth. Immediately blot spills to prevent soaking and regularly vacuum to clean up dust and dry "accidents." This fabric is also insect and dust resistant, making it a good choice for those with allergies.
Acrylic is often used to upholster casual furniture in woven-style fabrics, often in a plaid or stripe pattern. Acrylic is a synthetic fabric that doesn't absorb liquids, making it resistant to spills and stains. With this fabric, blot spills as soon as they happen to prevent the liquid from soaking into the padding under the fabric. Clean with a mild upholstery shampoo and a cloth or soft brush if needed. Vacuuming from time to time can rid the furniture of any dust. Acrylic also resists insects and melts under high heat, making it safe for a home. Acrylic furniture in particular suit sunny rooms because colors don't easily fade on acrylic fabric.
Leather is a popular upholstery material for casual as well as commercial furniture. It can be used in overstuffed styles that are butter soft and comfortable. Leather is a natural fiber and very durable. Softer leathers tend to absorb liquids. Use cleaner specifically designed for leather, especially on light-colored leather, since stains are more obvious on such colors. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions on the cleaning solution. For general cleanings, just wipe down with a damp cloth. Though leather is more expensive that other upholstery fabrics, it lasts many years if properly cared for.
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