In home furnishing, there are different types of textures and textiles. Below are some of the industry’s basic textures and some FYIs to assist you in making the decision between one or another.
Cotton is the world’s oldest and most used fiber, making up 50% of the textile industry. It is highly versatile, being available in a huge range of different colors and prints. Cotton is a plant-based fiber and varies in thickness and length depending on the species of cotton. Organic cotton can be used in upholstery fabric and is considered renewable resource.
DURABILITY: Cotton fabric is absorbent, breathable, soft to touch and static resistant. Upholstered cotton will feel good against your skin no matter the temperature or the humidity. It is also cost efficient.
DRAWBACKS: Cotton is not wrinkle resistant, and prone to shrinking (when wet) and stretching. Cotton is highly vulnerable to sunlight, causing it fade over time. It is also prone to staining because of its great absorbency characteristic.
CARE: Always blot spills immediately. Do not rub! Spot clean with a damp cloth or sponge, and let air dry. Keep out cotton from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
Unlike cotton, polyester is a man-made fiber. Microfiber, a fabric popular in the home furnishing industry, is made of 100% polyester. It has a suede-like texture, almost like a rich, velvety feel.
DURABILITY: Known for its durability, polyester has high strength, excellent resiliency, and a high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly. It is resistant to shrinking, stretching and creasing. Unlike cotton, it is resistant to sun-fading. High-resiliency helps to prevent the saggy look some sofas get as they age. Microfiber is water repellent and handles spills well by keeping them on the surface rather than soaking them in.
DRAWBACKS: Polyester is a product of the petroleum industry- it is not considered organic or from renewable resources. It is vulnerable to high temperature, heat and burns.
CARE: Clean with a soft cloth, water and mild liquid soap. Because of its weakness to heat, avoid removing cushion covers and putting them through the drier. Also avoid other heat sources such as curling irons or lit cigarettes from coming in contact with the sofa.
Leather is a natural product, made from animal skin. It is the most expensive cover used in upholsteries. Leather is luxurious, sophisticated and eludes an aura of prestige. It will never look dated and over time will develop character, a great advantage when it comes to longevity and value. There are upholsteries that are matched leather (100% leather on the seating area and vinyl on sides and back) and all leather (seating area, sides and back are 100% leather).
DURABILITY: Leather is exceptionally durable and long lasting- the longer you have it, the leather will become softer and more comfortable. It will even develop it’s own patina. It is resistant to tearing and easy to clean. Leather does not attract or collect dust and is resistant to dust mites.
DRAWBACKS: Leather adjusts to your body temperature, so it gets really sticky and uncomfortable in hot weather conditions.
CARE: In general, leather sofas are easier to keep clean than fabric. a regular vacuum and a damp cloth is all you need. Proper conditioning will also help to protect and prolong the life of your leather upholstery.
Wood has many uses and purposes, and is a favorite choice in home furnishing. They are divided into three types- hardwood, softwood or engineered wood. One of the factors determining the quality of your furniture is the type of wood. There are also wood veneers. A veneer is a thin piece of premium, high-quality wood over a lower quality piece of wood.
DURABILITY: Hardwood (deciduous trees) includes oak, mahogany, cherry, teak and birch. These are the most durable as they have strength and stability. Softwood (coniferous trees) includes pine and redwood. They are easier to carve and craft. Engineered wood includes plywood and particleboard/fiberboard. Plywood will have 3-5 thin pieces of wood glued together, and particleboard is created from milled lumber. They are less susceptible to splitting or warping. Veneers are used even in expensive, high-quality furniture so don’t be fooled by the term.
DRAWBACKS: Hardwood is not easily carved or crafted. Softwoods are more prone to scratches, marks and dents. Engineered wood does not last as long as hardwood. Fiberboards will soak up water and other liquids causing it to swell. A wood veneer is so thin that it is limited to the number of times an item can be refinished.
CARE: Dust thoroughly using a feather duster, lint-free/microfiber cloth or terry towel. Do not clean wood with water, or use all-purpose cleaning sprays. Instead, use a paste or wax that is made specifically for wood furniture. For slight scratches, use a felt-tip touch-up pen to fill in scratches.
Melamine is plastic resin created with formaldehyde and hardened through a heating process. It comes in a large variety of colors and patterns, and is applied to wood or particle board to make melamine furniture.
DURABILITY: Melamine is flame-resistant and is used in aprons, thermal liners and firefighters’ uniforms. It has a very smooth texture and will not scratch as easily as a veneer. It is also environmentally friendly as most melamine is used over particle board, a recyclable material.
DRAWBACK: Melamine is flat and cannot be curved at all.
CARE: Remove all dust thoroughly either using a duster or a damp washcloth. Use mild soap and water as your homemade cleaner solution- avoid using household cleaning products. Use a sponge to wipe down sprayed solution, then a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe away your cleanser. Clean once or twice a month.
Wood furniture takes on a different look and protection with lacquer finishing. Lacquer is a type of sprayed-on finish giving furniture a smooth texture and high-gloss look. Lacquer is often mistaken as a trait of modern furniture, but it actually originated in East Asia hundreds of years ago.
DURABILITY: Lacquer finish does not turn yellow, unlike shellac or polyurethane. It also last longer without flaking or chipping.
DRAWBACKS: Like any varnish, lacquer finish is vulnerable to scratches. Select lacquered furniture that requires little to no day-to-day use of its tabletop.
CARE: Clean with liquid soap and warm water, and dry with non-abrasive cloth.