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How To Choose The Right Child-Friendly Upholstery Fabric

When reupholstering furniture, you need to choose a fabric that is both beautiful and functional. This is especially important if your furniture is going to be well-loved by a family with active children and pets. How can you tell if a fabric will be up to the job? Here are some tips to help you know that you're choosing something practical for your upholstery job.

Dial Up On Double Rubs.

One way to measure the durability of a fabric is by how many double rubs it has. "Double rubs" is a measurement of how much abrasion it can take before it wears out. The number of double rubs assigned to a fabric is determined through the Wyzenbeek test, where a piece of cotton duck is continuously rubbed back and forth over the test fabric. One back and forth movement is a single double rub. Weaker fabrics, therefore have 9000 or fewer double rubs, while stronger fabrics can have over 30,000. For upholstery that takes the abuse of busy family life, look for fabric that offers at least 15,000 double rubs, but preferably more. 

Opt For Easy Care Blends.

Generally, engineered fabrics stand up to wear and tear better than all-natural textiles. However, a love seat or chair created from all-manmade material can also have drawbacks. For example, polyester is very durable, but 100% polyester can be easily stained by human sweat or skin oils, which makes a couch begin to look dirty very quickly. Instead, choose blends made from heavy duty materials that lend themselves to easy care solutions. A blend of polyester and cotton can be soft, strong, and easy to clean with an upholstery tool. Viscose and chenille can repel dirt and hide stains well in patterned fabric. Suede and heavy-duty flannels can also be great options.

Try to avoid fabrics made from 100% wool, cotton, linen, or acrylic. These all work well in blends, but wool can be hard to care for, cotton picks up easily on dye and stains, linen is lighter in weight and wrinkles easily, and acrylic fabrics pill after plenty of use. 

There is one exception to all-natural materials being generally less suitable for heavy duty upholstery: leather. If you can afford it, a sealed leather couch can last for years under proper care and is virtually stain-proof.

Pick a pattern.

Even with a durable, easy-to-care-for fabric, accidents happen. Crayons, juice spills, spit up, and pet accidents are all upholstery enemies. If possible, move away from solid, light-colored designs in favor of a medium colored, neutral design—or better yet, a pattern. Patterned textiles hide stains and dirt much more easily. Darker patterns with plenty of movement and interest are ideal for family furnishings. For more on this topic, check out a company like Decorators Choice.