Performance fabrics have had the biggest growth in the last couple of years. The word is out and people are educating themselves. People are living more casually and they want it worry free. They want sustainability, cleanability and fade-resistance. Performance fabrics continue to evolve with color, pattern and texture. Eco-friendly and chemical safety is important but the details can be murky. For instance, there are performance fibers and there are performance finishes. What’s the difference? Longevity and chemicals. A chair in a living room only used a couple times a year might be fine with just a performance finish. A recliner in the family room would be best covered in a performance fiber that has also been tested to 100,000 double rubs.
Revolution Performance Fabrics, a well-known provider of performance fabrics in the USA, had this to say:
Performance starts with yarn. Not a chemical bath.
Revolution fabrics are made from olefin that has no stain treatment to wear off. It does not bead liquid but it doesn’t absorb much either. It is extremely cleanable. Revolution claims they have not found anything that can’t be cleaned from it, even permanent magic marker. It can be cleaned with any household cleaner.
Revolution Performance Fabrics
Check out how the fabrics held up to this 4th grade class!
Pilling and Fuzzing
There is a common misconception that double rub testing is relative to the likeliness of a fabric to pill. Double rub test results and pilling susceptibility have nothing to do with the other. Acrylic and spun polyester are very prone to pilling and fuzzing. Look for fabrics made with 100% continuous filament yarns. Want to dig deeper into the details? Check out the Martindale Method for pill ratings on fabrics.
Double Rub Testing
The Wyzenbeek Method is the North American standard for measuring a fabrics resistance to abrasion. The heavy duty residential standard is 15,000 double rubs.
Here’s a quick, overall view of the Wyzenbeek Method
Resistance to Sun Damage
The indoor residential and commercial standard is 40 hours.
Is your furniture exposed to heavy sunlight?
Sunbrella performance doesn’t stop at the finish.
Sunbrella is acrylic with a PFC coating, and 15,000 hours of light fastness.
Finishes are applied to the surface of the fabric giving it a barrier to spills and stains.
Crypton is one example of a finish on fabrics. Finishes will eventually wear off and become less able to repel stains. It is also a PFC chemical.
Safety – Do Your Research!
Please do your own research to be sure you are comfortable with the safety of the fabric you are choosing.
Ensures that a product has met some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into indoor air.
For more information check out Greenguard.org
The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries on earth. Large-scale farming uses huge amounts of water and typically involves fertilizers and pesticides that make their way into our water and air. During the dyeing process, leftover dye washes out into the water supply and pollutes it. Heavy metals are used as dye fixatives, adding to water and air pollution, and the bleach used to whiten fabrics can also have a significant negative impact.
Olefin production uses the least energy to produce fiber, has the smallest carbon footprint, and no harmful industrial waste is produced in the process. There is also no waste water produced in the solution dye process. It’s 100% recyclable and can be re-extruded up to 10 times. So, olefin is considered to have one of the better environmental impacts on the environment, but it is still a synthetic fiber made from chemicals.
Performance fabrics come in all price points. They can impact the cost of a sofa from dollars to hundreds of dollars.
Questions to Ask
What is it made of?
Is it made in the USA or imported?
Is it cleanable with water?
Does it repel stains?
How long is it cleanable?
How many hours of light fastness?
Is it Greenguard certified?
Have questions? Just ask! Comment below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!
Reduce your carbon footprint.
Replacing your old couch or chair? Looking to have something reupholstered? Do some research on what kind of fabric your buying, how it was manufactured, where it was manufactured, is it greenguard certified, and how long it will last. Every little bit helps to reduce your carbon footprint!