High quality top and full grain leathers are unbeatable for comfort and durability.
- If you can afford the high cost and
- If you are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to clean and maintain the leather on a regular basis.
Unfortunately most leathers actually sold are:
- Top grain “corrected” leathers, which have an artificial texture and grain pattern engraved into a low quality heavily dyed hide.
- Problematic leather match (a combination of low quality corrected leathers and synthetic faux leathers.)
- Horrendous bonded leathers which should not be purchased by anybody.
Microfiber fabrics have been used on furniture for several decades now. They have many advantages including:
- High durability
- Excellent stain resistance
- Low cost
The problem with the microfiber fabrics is that there is relatively little variation in texture, look and feel.
- Most microfibers have either a velvet or suede texture.
- They cannot be used for intricate patterns or multiple colors.
- Microfibers are always solid, plain single color fabrics.
More recently, there has been a new development in fabric technology. This is the emergence of “high performance” fabrics.
- High Performance fabrics are growing rapidly in the marketplace and are rapidly overtaking microfibers as the #1 type of fabric found in upholstered furniture.
- HP fabrics are now used by upholstered furniture manufacturers at all quality levels.
High performance fabrics started as a highly stain resistant fabric alternative for outdoor use (Sunbrella) and heavy duty commercial or institutional use (Crypton.)
- Initially, these high performance fabrics were considerably more expensive than the microfibers.
Over the past few years several different mills have brought out lower cost residential grade high performance fabrics.
- Although these are not quite as stain resistant as the outdoor or institutional versions, the residential versions do equal or exceed the stain resistance of the microfibers.
- Residential HP fabrics are also softer and less stiff than the commercial versions.
- High performance fabrics are now available in an almost unlimited variety of textures, colors and patterns.
- They are also available in a wide range of prices.
- At the lower end, STI’s Revolution and Culp’s LiveSmart lines compete directly against the low cost microfibers.
- At the upper end, Crypton, Sunbrella, Bella-Dura and others compete for the designer fabric trade.
High performance fabrics are made using a wide variety of different fibers and technologies.
- Crypton’s HP fabrics are primarily polyesters and polyester blends. Culp’s lower cost LiveSmart line is also a polyester blend.
- Low cost Revolution HP fabrics by STI and high end Bella-Dura HP fabrics are both made using polypropylene (olefin) fibers.
- Sunbrella’s HP fabrics are acrylic based.
- There are other high performance fabric brands also available.
Know someone who might be interested in this post? Please like and share this post with them. If you have questions or comments please leave them below.