The Best Upholstery Fabrics For Pets and Slobs

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Readers,

Before I get into the best upholstery fabrics.

How are y’all doing?

I still can’t believe what’s going on in our world. I am fine. Sometimes tired, though. I hope all of you and your loved ones are okay.

 

So onto our topic– What are the best upholstery fabrics? That means, of course what are the most durable upholstery fabrics?

 

Well, it depends on your situation and budget.

 

  • For instance, do you want the best upholstery fabrics that are pet-proof?
  • And, then, is it pet-proof for a dog or a cat?
  • Does your pet shed?
  • Do they drool and slobber?
  • Or, maybe it’s a husband who slobbers.

 

You might also have an infant who projectile vomits.

 

I did. Both of them. Yeah. Seven months of babybarf all covering everything. We even have it on video. Good family times. If this is your situation, I do recommend covering everything in plastic. Yes, temporarily, of course. That’s because baby vomit does NOT come out.

Oh, maybe if you rip off whatever got soaked and washed it immediately with the strongest detergent. I don’t know. All I know is when I had son two, there were maybe one or two things that were still wearable.

However, the point is, that the best upholstery fabrics for one person might not be the best upholstery fabrics for someone else.

 

But, Laurel, there must be at least one upholstery fabric that’s an all-purpose, pet-proof, slob-proof sure thing?

 

Okay. No upholstery fabric is 100% bullet-proof. Still, let’s go through the possibilities so that you can better understand the pros and cons of different fabrics. And, what will be in your best interests.

 

*What are the worst fabrics you can use for upholstery? That is, unless you don’t mind if it falls apart.

 

  • Anything with a loose weave.
  • A fabric with a loop such as an epingle. This is a loopy fabric and expensive too.
  • Chenille – Chenilles always need a knit-backing

 

best upholstery fabrics - my old living room with white furniture

My old living room with Peaches circa 2003 and before he mauled and murdered the wing chairs.

 

A rep-truss weave. This is a horizontal weave. I used it the two wing chairs above thinking it would be durable. Those chairs couldn’t have been more appealing to my Peaches if they were covered in catnip and drenched in tuna water.

 

  • Unprotected leather is another poor choice. Unprotected is the leather that scratches.
  • And, of course, suede.
  • Silk is usually very risky

 

antique chair - Stroheim silk damask - not one the best upholstery fabrics

 

However, my antique chairs with the cool seats were upholstered in a silk. Gosh, I didn’t even bother to have them knit-backed.

* For more elaboration on all of the above situations and terms (like knit-backed) and, required reading, please see 15 Hideous Mistakes I made with fabric.

 

But, they’ve actually held up pretty well. They aren’t sat in a whole lot. But, I had this done about 20 years ago!

 

best upholstery fabrics - chenille from Duralee. ItMy chenille sofa was getting wrecked by Peaches. Well, the arms, were. I had to put the arm sleeves on. You can see one of them bunched up behind him, below.

 

My beautiful Peaches in October 2014, six weeks before he got sick and died.

(I miss you, Snooky.)

 

Now, let’s go over the fabrics that are generally excellent choices. Plus, one I’m not sure about.

 

  • Microfiber or Ultra-suede. Yes, believe it or not, this stuff is so good you’ll need to throw it out back in the bonfire to (maybe) destroy it. In fact, you can just rip off those seat covers and throw them into the washing machine.
  • A higher-end non-shiny polyester. Same thing.
  • Most outdoor fabrics such as Sunbrella and Perennials.
  • Most Crypton fabrics.

I say “most” because you really need to double-check and do some testing. More about that in a sec.

 

The one I’m not sure about is mohair.

 

Now, before you start hyperventilating that you ARE sure it is a great choice.

I do have experience with mohair and it was 23 years ago. We did an expensive Donghia chair in an expensive Donghia Mohair. Just gorgeous. And, I too, was told it would “wear like iron.”

Well, It did not wear like iron.

It wore like tissue paper.

And, it only took one short year. And, horrifyingly, it looked like hamsters had been gnawing on the arms every night. They were completely threadbare. However, if you have used mohair with great success, then please let us know.

Mohair is also a type of velvet.

 

So, let’s discuss velvet to ascertain whether it should be included as one of the best upholstery fabrics.

 

I saved it for last, because velvet is in a class by itself.

 

Cotton Velvet

 

It only took one experience some 26 years ago to convince me that cotton velvet is not one of the best upholstery fabrics.

It was in the days before I started my business and worked for someone else. My boss had me do the ol’ coffee test.

What is the coffee test? Well, it takes a lot of finesse. But, you pour yourself a cup of coffee. And, then you take the coffee and pour it onto the fabric sample. Let it dry a little. Then wash it.

That’s what I did back in the 90s. The once lovely cotton velvet was now a big bloody, crumpled mess.

 

Ever since then, I’ve backed away from cotton velvet.

 

However, if the cotton velvet has a little polyester in it, then that might be enough to make it far more durable if it gets wet.

 

best upholstery fabrics for cats is velvet. Sectional from one kings lane sutton right-facing sectional harbor blue velvet - best upholstery fabricsA good example of a cotton/polyester blend that should perform well is the Sutton Two-piece sectional in Harbor Blue from One King’s Lane.

 

In any case, all velvet fabrics are the best for cats in terms of them shredding the fabric.

 

They cannot shred velvet because they can’t get their claws into it.

But, please know that their fur might stick to it.

In fact, a lot of fabrics are “sticky.”

 

My Palecek chairs were a favorite of Peaches.

 

my kitchen with Barbara Barry Indo Day Roman shade

 

Me too! (I kept one when I moved for Peaches. Above) He frequently napped in one of them. I had the loose seat cushions covered in a linen velvet in a dark green. Peaches was the color of a peach. Duh. So, I’d just vacuum up the hair. He did not ever hurt that fabric; he didn’t even try to. I still have one of the chairs. And the fabric, 24 years later, still looks terrific!

 

Over the years, I used lots of polyester and polyester blend velvets for my clients.

 

And, they always looked and performed really well. However, if having copious amounts of dog and/or cat hair sticking to your furniture is going to make you crazy, then maybe avoid those fabrics.

However, it might be a trade-off. Would you rather your fabric stay intact, or would you rather have to vacuum the furniture every few days?

 

Therefore, here’s what I recommend before you choose a fabric.

 

I recommend you experiment with a fabric. And, here are some ways to do that.

You could get a yard of the fabric and wrap it around your cat’s scratching post. You can even try throwing some catnip on it. Then, see if he can destroy it. If it remains intact, you’re good to go.

Do repellants work to keep your pets away from the furniture? Not sure. If you have experience with that, please let us know in the comments.

 

kItty claw caps from Chewy

Of course, you might be able to save your furniture with these kitty claw caps from Chewy. They come in assorted colors and sizes. I have a friend who did that when her cat was a kitten. I would imagine it helps if you start when they are young?

 

But, to ascertain if what you have is truly the best upholstery fabric for the job. Here is the Laurel Testing method. These tests will:

 

  • test for shrinkage
  • stain resistance
  • integrity of fabric after cleaning
  • or, if it will hold up simply by getting it wet with water!

 

To conduct these tests I went into my library of fabric samples and selected a Duralee fabric that is 79% cotton/21% poly.

 

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

Measure the fabric to see if it shrinks after putting it through its paces. In this case, it did not. The faded parts are where the tag was.

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

 

And then I took a nearly identical velvet from Duralee that is 100% poly. While poly is an amazing fabric for upholstery and the cushions are machine-washable, it does have a tendency to be the aforementioned sticky kind of fabric.

 

One important thing for ALL fabrics is that they need to be dusted and/or vacuumed regularly. Ground in dirt is no bueno for fabrics.

 

The first step is to get both fabrics wet to about a third of the way down.

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain testThe cotton-poly above

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

The 100% poly.

 

Immediately, the poly was practically dry with no evidence of it being wet.

The cotton/poly got zapped with the hairdryer. And, I set both fabrics aside. After an hour or so, both are dry and look fine.

But now it’s time to bring out the big annihilators.

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

COFFEE

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

PEANUT BUTTER

 

The cotton/poly is on the right.

I then took the tag off of the 100% poly but left a staple in to tell them apart.

Then, I washed everything out in soapy sudsy water.

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

rinsed.

hmmmm… Can you guess which one is the cotton/poly? Yes, the one on the right.

I dunno… It’s not looking too promising is it?

But… it’s wet.

I let that dry for a good long while, but the poly was nearly dry to begin with!

You can very lightly iron them to hasten the drying and take out the wrinkles.

 

best upholstery fabrics - polyester velvet from Duralee - stain test

 

Two hours later…

 

It’s difficult to tell here, because of the nap but both fabrics were spotless and looked better than how they started out! There was no evidence of coffee or peanut butter. The cotton/poly is on the right. So it did hold up very well after all. It just looked scary in the middle.

 

I have used synthetic velvets, chenilles, and ultra-suede for clients for my entire career. Those are my favorite upholstery fabrics for durability.

 

The new polys don’t have that shiny, cheap look. They look like linen or cotton now.

I have not had any issues with pilling with 100% polyester. However, do be careful with nylon. Nylon can pill.

 

Let’s Look at Indoor/Outdoor Fabrics and Other Performance Fabrics

 

These are usually known by their brand-names Sunbrella™ for the former and Crypton™ or Crypton Home™ for the latter.

Lauren Liess wrote an excellent post about her experience with an indoor/outdoor fabric. It’s commonly known as sunbrella™ which is a brand-name for a solution-dyed acrylic.

One small correction. This fabric is inherently able to be washed. There is no coating that can rub off.

Does outdoor fabric stain?

uh-huh. It can.

But, it is stain resistant and pretty much everything can come out because you can even use diluted bleach and other strong cleaners on it. Here’s a cleaning guide.

 

So, if they are both performance fabrics, what is the difference between Sunbrella and Crypton Home and which one is the best?

 

Gosh, you guys ask the best questions!

It’s a different technology.

And, the main difference is that Crypton Home (the residential version of Crypton) is strictly an indoor fabric where Sunbrella and its clones can go inside or outside.

Sunbrella™ is solution-dyed Acrylic.

I have used both fabrics with terrific results.

The indoor/outdoor fabrics have come a long way since they first came on the market in the early 1960s.

One of my favorite indoor/outdoor brands is Perennials. It’s more expensive than some, but the fabrics are beautiful and do not in any way look like outdoor fabric.

 

favorite Serena & Lily Fabrics

 

Serena and Lily carries a whole bunch of ’em— both solids and stripes and there are several more than shown above. They are awfully good-looking. Some of the fabrics above are not Perennials. But, all are very durable.

And all of S&L’s upholstered furniture is available in their performance fabrics.

 

By the way, it is still on sale. Everything including their fabrics is 20% off. And, they have hundreds of new items to check out.

 

Serena & Lily Miramar Sofa in Perennials Stripe fabric

Serena & Lily Miramar Benchseat sofa in a Perennials pinstripe.

Serena & Lily blue and white color scheme_Carson_Beachclub_AvignonChair - Timeless Furniture Pieces

 

Serena & Lily Avignon Chair in Perennials Lake Stripe fabric

 

But, these performance fabrics also make it safe(r) to have white furniture.

 

Here is one of my favorites

 

Spruce Street Chair from Serena and Lily is slipcovered in a Perennials outdoor performance fabric.

 

Another good online source to see or purchase a lot of indoor/outdoor fabrics is Decorator’s Best. They have thousands of them, all different price points and about 20 different brands, so a huge selection– solids and patterns.

 

Decorator’s Best also has about 1,500 different fabrics with Crypton technology.

 

Are there any other good upholstery fabrics? Or maybe I should say anything else to avoid?

 

Yes, but it depends on usage.

For instance, for slipcovers, a sturdy cotton duck or denim is a great choice, especially if they are white.

And cotton for upholstery is a great fabric, but I wouldn’t put it in a family room on the sectional.

Linen is a terrific material and actually fairly easy to clean. (but no scrubbing or machine washing). I had a linen slip-cover for some 17 years and it actually stayed quite clean for a very long time.

 

I said this before, but it bears repeating. Linen fabrics as well as chenilles and silks require a knit-backing.**

 

**If you missed the “required reading post about the horrors of what can happen with fabrics, here it is again. These were some of my most painful (and costly) mistakes.

 

 

What About Leather For Upholstery?

 

Well, folks that sell leather say that it’s as fragile as silk. And yes, some of it is!

The important thing to know is that you want an aniline PROTECTED leather.  But, please do the finger-nail test. You don’t want to see any marks if you try to scratch it.

Here is a terrific primer about leather and what all of the terms mean.

 

 

I found this way cool contemporary leather sofa at West Elm. Their furniture has gone higher end in recent years. It’s still relatively inexpensive but looks great. This piece is only 34.4 inches deep which makes it terrific for smaller rooms.

 

A recap when choosing the best upholstery fabrics

 

Most fabrics will be okay for upholstery with good care and the proper upholstery job. Polyester and performance fabrics are almost bulletproof. These are the best choices if you have a family like mine.

(not that I headed my own advice!)

But linens and cottons make fine fabrics as well.

 

Test your fabrics before choosing, so get samples first. Or maybe even purchase a yard of the fabric to experiment with. It’s worth it for peace of mind.

 

Dump stuff on them. Run your finger across and see if it holds up. Wash the fabric and see what happens. You can also ask your designer or retailer for advice.

If you do all of those things, you should be just fine.

However, stuff still happens. And, here’s a superb cleaning guide to get anything out.

 

And a post about when I discovered Crypton Home at the Highpoint Market.

 

folex instant carpet and fabric spot remover

There’s also a miracle spot remover called FOLEX. I have not used it; however, it got superb reviews on Amazon. And I did some other research as well. The Carpet remover is a misnomer as it’s for all sorts of tough cleaning jobs including upholstery fabrics. But always test, first, in an inconspicuous spot.

 

The most durable upholstery fabrics

please pin to Pinterest for reference

 

I hope this gave you some good insights into the best upholstery fabrics. And, how to figure out the best ones for your needs.

xo,

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES. Wonderful sales this weekend.

333 decorating rules you need to know

PPS: ***Please also consider purchasing my new 333 Hard to Find Rules & Tips You Need to Know Guide. It’s only $49.00 (for the time being) and over 200 pages filled with my best advice.!*** (please note this is a PDF file that gets downloaded to your computer.)***

 

 

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Theresa VanSteel - April 11, 2020 - 5:14 PM

    This article was very helpful – a lot of slobs in my house and usually a pet or 2. A concern for myself is with fibromyalgia I am too warm almost all the time. I can’t sit for a whole movie without getting to warm – even in the winter. A towel down helps with leather/bonded leather but with the fabrics you talked about – which would be sturdy, low maintenance plus breathable enough I can sit for a while without getting too hot – thanks T. VanSteelReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - April 6, 2020 - 11:51 PM

    I am very glad you did this post on fabric. I wish you had done it 6 mos ago before I bought a sofa, and a month or 2 ago before I bought upholstered chairs for the dining.

    Well scratch that.(Literally!) We had chairs that officially died and had nothing to sit in and these were available in store that day and they fit in our car.

    The problem is my darling cat Cookie(who looks an awful lot like Peaches) insists she must claw to get any dead claw-skin out of her nails. Sure. That sounds reasonable…
    I threaten her w Soft Paws, and that may be the solution. I am sure at 8 yrs old she will love that and being held [read – restrained – against her will] while these fake claws dry.

    I also had done plenty (I thought) of research before buying any upholstery that would be “cat-friendly”. I kept reading to not get velvet.

    Recently, last week or two, I read something else that said it IS cat-durable as it is not a loop. D’oh!
    Well maybe for a throw pillow cover.
    And in the meantime, what do you recommend for a thin (I live in FL) sofa throw that doesn’t have pull type of fabric, is cheap, and the fact that I live in an apartment? To cover (some of) said sofa.
    I am at a loss for dining chair covers as I hate the slip-covered chair look. Or ones w skirts. Ew. No.
    Unless there is something else.

    That addresses another question you posed as in during this crisis, what do we need this blog to be?

    Well I for one can’t do anything extensive as I rent, and because I rent I also can’t afford anything expensive.

    But before this all happened in the world to shut it all down, I was in the middle of (re)decorating my living room. (If all I got was really uncomfortable hand-me-downs that smelled like previous owners dogs then I guess you could say I am/was/hope to be [soon as work opens up again] DECORATING not so much RE-decorating because the RE implies I previously had a choice or money to make a choice which I did not.

    Anyway, I digress.

    thank you for the useful articles with everything I love.
    1. Decorating
    2. Cats
    2. Keeping things nice
    4. Ability for fav thing 1 & 2 to coexist w/o me going crazy {Besides I do NOT need this sickness to added to the list of problems I would have if I do go crazy and get institutionalized if cat or more appropriately husband (oh I forgot to add him to my fav things list!) were to ruin my work of art which is my favorite thing – decorating/cats/clean!

    Sorry. Cooped up. Obvious yet?
    great post. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - April 1, 2020 - 11:25 AM

    Sorry, I never intended this statement to start a debate; I wanted to share my experience, which, honestly, shocked me, but I’ve never seen it mentioned in discussions of the procedure. My cat was fine! But I still felt guilty every day of her life. I wish someone had warned me to consult my core beliefs and not just the benefits of saving my furniture and my vet’s reassurances (and she no longer declaws); there was no going back. Nail caps were the better solution and we used them with our other cats for years.ReplyCancel

  • Kellie Zollars - March 31, 2020 - 9:47 PM

    I LOVE Folex. I tried it years ago and now always have some in my cabinet.ReplyCancel

  • milton mom - March 31, 2020 - 8:22 PM

    @Claudia – Thank you very much for your comments. Yes, perhaps the breakdown was at the manufacturer – Taylor King?
    Who knows but no one wants to take responsibility. Oh well,
    in the scheme of things these days – it is a very, very small thing.
    Stay wellReplyCancel

  • Claudia - March 31, 2020 - 7:20 PM

    MiltonMom,

    Four years ago I ordered a custom made Theodore Alexander sofa with a light ivory, linen look Crypton fabric. The TA fabric code for my color is 1060-01. I briefly tried to find the color by name to see if it was the same as your’s, but couldn’t.

    This sofa is used daily, with heavy use. I vacuum it regularly and flip/rotate the cushions. I’ve cleaned blood, coffee and chocolate stains completely off it. It has not grayed at all.

    I have seen your photos on Houzz and am horrified and heartbroken for you. I have no idea why this happened to your sofa. My only thought is that your manufacturer may have accidentally treated your sofa surface fabric with some type of spray-on stain repellent that adversely caused maybe a chemical change to the polyester, effecting color.

    The TA custom upholstery website still offers the Crypton fabrics, so I don’t think this is a problem with their fabrics in general.ReplyCancel

  • miltonmom - March 31, 2020 - 1:35 PM

    @SusanHijazi – I too loved, loved my ivory Crypton the first couple of months. I’d really be interested to know how your Crypton holds up and if it grays. My sofa has an English arm and I did not use the armchair covers because it ruins the look.
    So I was able to compare the never used covers against the sofa and wow – it was shocking. It is just an overall thing – no one spot at all. Check out Houzz for posts. Anyway – good luck!!ReplyCancel

  • Patti McGovern - March 31, 2020 - 1:21 PM

    I am a cat lover and I appreciate both sides of the cat claw discussion but don’t think this is the venue. Laurel has provided us with some welcome relief to take our minds of the horror outside the window and I would like to see it stay that way.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 31, 2020 - 1:29 PM

      Ack, you are so right Patti! Guys, please let’s not get into debates, especially regarding things not related specifically to the post topic.ReplyCancel

  • Lea - March 30, 2020 - 10:45 PM

    If you have spayed or neutered a cat you have had a procedure done which is far more invasive than declawing performed by a qualified veterinarian.

    If you have ever owned or ridden a gelding, you have ridden a horse that had his testicles surgically removed.

    Life is full of examples of animals who are surgically altered both for their well-being and ours.ReplyCancel

  • Lea - March 30, 2020 - 7:25 PM

    Sorry. I have to disagree about the “mutilation” and “ethically wrong” attitude on the declawing of cats.

    We are about to live through some economically challenging years. What we have or are fortunate enough to own in the next few years will become more limited for many of us.

    I have a stray cat who showed up starving on our farm years ago. She is a lovely animal and wants to live in our house, but unfortunately also wanted to shred my expensive furniture. My choices were keeping her outside, subject to becoming a meal for coyotes or bobcats, or having her front claws removed. I opted for the latter alternative.

    She has no idea her front claws are gone. She still”scratches” furniture, sheds cat hair everywhere, and is a very very happy animal. She isn’t stressed and we aren’t stressed that she is destroying what we have worked hard to furnish our home with.

    I suppose I have a more practical attitude about animals…We raise beef cattle and have owned about every domestic animal you can list, along with bottle-raising several species of abandoned baby wildlife. Animals eat other animals. It isn’t Disney fairy tales in the real world of nature, and as people are more removed from the reality of the natural world we tend to attribute our emotions and reality to animals.

    Miss Kitty is currently sitting on my arm as I type this. She is completely unconcerned that when she scratches my velvet sofa she no longer leaves a trail of destruction. She is more concerned that she can’t eat my pet cockatiel.ReplyCancel

  • marie - March 30, 2020 - 4:24 PM

    Hi Laurel, You are the best! One of your posts about faux fireplaces was the inspiration for my carpenter and I to cover my old, dirty rustic brick fireplace. He build everything in place, but your wonderful blog was our guide. Thanks so muchReplyCancel

  • Louisa - March 30, 2020 - 1:42 PM

    I can attest to the efficacy of the cat nail caps. I get them in bulk from amazon, and I have found the cheaper, rubbery ones seem to stick better than the more expensive name brands. Before I grab the cat, I set the nails up with their glue inside, so that I don’t have to fuss with any of that while I have him held captive. Then, as soon as they’re applied, and I’ve held them in place I give him a “perfect portion” cat treat. It keeps him busy while the glue is still setting.

    I am not a cat person, but my husband brought this cat into the marriage, and the cat was tearing up brand new beautiful rugs and chairs. He still “scratches” with the caps on, but there’s no damage. I just look once a week to see if there are any to replace. The caps are a lifesaver.

    Great post! Will save for my next upholstery purchases. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Janet R - March 30, 2020 - 1:37 PM

    I have cats and prefer leather over fabric because the hair doesn’t stick. How I wish I had a purple or other colorful couch! But when I was looking, I ended up with a large espresso brown Stickley. So I consoled myself that any spots, stains, etc would give it character. It still looks great 14 years later. My children were appalled when I didn’t stop my dear departed Miss Cloudy from scratching on the woven bit in front of the armrest. I told them it would be something to remember her by when she was gone, just messing with their heads 😀 , but you know it’s completely true! Either no kitties have tried to scratch it elsewhere, or the scratches heal themselves!ReplyCancel

  • Madonna - March 30, 2020 - 10:50 AM

    For Ramona, try Wade’s Cat Trees. He builds them and sells them both online and at cat shows. The one we bought completely entranced one cat, and another uses the scratchers instead of the furniture and the third ignores the scratchers completely and shreds an old sofa I picked up at Salvation Army.

    I hate microsuede, but it has defeated even Bandit, the compulsive furniture destroyer of worlds.

    Third, try Soft Paws. They were invented by an American veterinarian more than 20 years ago. They work really well. I let my cats’ Soft Paws shed in preparation for a visit from the red-haired great-nephew so they can put him in his place when he messes with them.

    Thanks for the tip about essential oils. I had no idea!ReplyCancel

  • milton mom - March 30, 2020 - 10:28 AM

    Hi Lauren,
    Last fall I received my beautifully styled sofa with a Crypton Silex Snow fabric – it was gorgeous! I hadn’t had the sofa a few months before the “white” was now gray. I wish I could upload a picture of the difference – we’re not talking about a “stain” but an overall graying of the fabric. We don’t smoke, have a pet or any other obvious reasons. Upon testing the last few months at the Crypton factory- they said it performed as expected. NOT!! Just a heads up on the popular “white” look -you end up with ‘gray” if its Crypton. I had two armchairs recovered in same (initial) color- not Crypton and they have held up exceptionally well. I had my kitchen and dining room chairs recovered in Crypton 2 years ago and they still look great, but this sofa is a VERY disappointing mess.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - March 29, 2020 - 5:12 PM

    What a great post. Thank you Laurel. I have two long hair cats, and several pieces of furniture that need upholstering, so any fabric that I choose needs to be bullet proof! Well, as close to bullet proof as possible.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 29, 2020 - 3:54 PM

    I have five kids, including a barfing baby. We just bought living room furniture on Black Friday, upholstered in emerald green poly/cotton velvet. I spot clean it with a tiny bit of soap and water, and it looks new. Which it still is, but those white spit-up stains disappear.ReplyCancel

  • Tracey - March 29, 2020 - 2:00 PM

    Hi Lauren,
    Thank you so much for this post today!
    Firstly, I’m glad you are ok. I’ve been thinking of you, well basically every time I turn on the news, and they are reporting on the situation in NewYork.
    Secondly, I’m so very stressed, and anxious about the situation. It’s making my depression worse. But, reading your posts and perusing Your blog and reading the books you wrote, really help me transport to a better happier place. I may not be able to afford to buy anything right now, or even paint, but I can still dream!!!
    my hubby and I both have underlying health issues that would make getting this illness very bad.
    It’s so wonderful of you to take the time to write these posts. It helps!! Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Wallace - March 29, 2020 - 1:47 PM

    Thanks for this post. I knew about sunbrella and perennials fabrics but did not know much about crypton…..thank you for ALL of the information. I have been sheltering in place for three weeks now and finally got around to reading and enjoying the 333 Hard to Find Decorating Rules I purchased after the holidays! Great stuff! Stay safe!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - March 29, 2020 - 1:28 PM

    PS: Sunbrella fabrics have too much texture and would attract my cats, as would the vast majority of linen and cotton fabrics. Smooth, tight, almost chintz-like fabrics are the only way to go.

    Never declaw a cat. Furniture is less important than a cat’s health and well-being — and your conscience! Even if the cat is fine, you will feel guilty because you know it’s mutilation and it ethically wrong . . . as I did for the 18 years I after I stupidly did it, long ago.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - March 29, 2020 - 1:20 PM

    Five cats here, all with claws. We used to use the claw caps and they are great, if you hang out with the cat for 10 minutes after application so the glue really sets. But it just got to be too much, now we just trim their claws (when we brush their teeth!) so they can do less damage.

    We live in a small apartment so our furniture gets lots of use and all seven of us sit everywhere.

    1. Repellants don’t work; one of my cats loves citrus spray, which I was using since he was EATING our antique (cheap, ratty) Persian carpets. Cats are supposed to hate citrus and it didn’t faze him at all.

    2. DO NOT use essential oils, like lavender. Most essential oils are extremely toxic to cats; their livers can’t metabolize even the oils’ aromas the way ours can.

    3. My only solutlon, so far, for the rugs was duct-taping the edges. I was able to find maroon duct tape. Ideas, anyone?

    4. Synthetic or cotton-blend velvets are tough and indeed work very well. Sturdy, smooth cotton works well. Our Ralph Lauren Lakota Paisley (cotton drapery fabric, but strong) slipcovered sofa is 20 years old and doing well. Fur removal is easier with one of those velcro-type brushes or wet your hand. Brush the velvet with the nap to protect it.

    5. Patterns show less fur and stains than solids. Buy fabrics that coordinate well with your animals’ coloring. I’m serious.

    6. A thin layer of cat fur on a rug will protect it when the cat then throws up there. So don’t vacuum so often.

    7. I recently recovered our dining chairs in light tan suede cloth. This is different from ultrasuede. It’s thinner so it’s easier for upholsterers to work with. It passed my peanut butter test and buttery-tomato sauce test. They look fantastic and no one wants to scratch them so far. I covered another chair seat in teal Krypton velvet, same deal, also passed my tests.

    8. If you have cats, the most important detail to avoid with upholstery is CORDING. It’s the perfect thing for little claws to grab onto. Avoid cording and piping and your furniture will last longer.

    9. Leather is generally a stupid idea, but husbands love it. Pottery Barn offers many leather choices. I picked one by scratching all the samples in their books with a sharp fingernail. Hard. Their “Signature” leathers were resistant, unlike all the others. I chose “Maple,” and I cover the armchair completely with a throw. The chair is not in perfect shape after a couple of years, but it doesn’t look like it was attacked by 3,000 rabid baboons, the way my previous leather armchair did after just a week or two. I use “Leather Honey” from Amazon to hide scratches. It even helped the baboon chair.

    My five cents!ReplyCancel

  • Susanamantha - March 29, 2020 - 1:09 PM

    Laurel,
    Thanks to your article last year regarding Crypton, I am having 2 swivel chairs reupholstered in the miracle fabric. 3 dogs, 5 grandchildren, a husband, and my taste for red wine, made me choose Crypton. I’m waiting for delivery of the chairs any day now unless coronavirus has got the workers in its grips. (We’re in a lot better shape here in Ohio than you are, but my sister in Brooklyn seems to have it, altho’ she can’t get a test even tho’ she has had a fever for 2 weeks, lethargy, and now a cough. Yuck. There’s no way I can help her or her Alzheimer’s husband. Sorry for the downer. It’s on my mind.ReplyCancel

  • DAM - March 29, 2020 - 12:15 PM

    I’m shopping for a sofa now so your blog was timely and I enjoy your comments.

    I can vouch for the Folex spot remover as I have been using it for years. It was recommended by a restoration company service person. You can find it in grocery stores or some big box home improvement stores. We’ve had kids, cats and dogs so it’s a home saver!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - March 29, 2020 - 11:55 AM

    What a great resource for fabric durability! I love seeing your blog pop up in my inbox. I know I’m going to be entertained and learn something new every time!! Thanks for being you!ReplyCancel

  • HG - March 29, 2020 - 11:40 AM

    I was able to keep my cat off the couch using a scat mat. It gives them a little shock. While not pleasant ( I sat on it myself when I forgot it was there) it will not hurt them. I got one after my cat came in from outside with something on his feet, jumped on the couch and left a black mark that would not come off. The cushion had to be flipped.
    And this was an antique couch I had covered with a fabric that I bought as a remnant so I can’t get more and it isn’t easily cleaned.
    This is the one I had : https://store.petsafe.net/scatmat-pet-proofing-mats?_ga=2.115829638.1868310694.1585495803-936230896.1585495803.ReplyCancel

  • agd - March 29, 2020 - 11:36 AM

    Laurel, Glad to hear you are well. The lockdown seems to cause fatigue – I’m so done with being isolated. Anyway, thanks for this timely article – we are preparing to buy new or reupholster a sofa and I have been stressing over fabric. I prefer natural fibers and was leaning towards cotton velvet but perhaps a blend, or synthetics like Crypton, would be a safer choice. The info on leather is helpful too; we thought about putting leather in a vacation property but now I am so glad we didn’t. N.B.: We had Sunbrella pillows and cushions made for wicker rockers for the house we rent, and it turns out renters can stain those (and destroy pretty much anything else). We’re not sure if it’s chocolate or blood, but the stains refuse to come out, so we need to replace those too. Stay well and safe, and thanks so much for the blog. I read it as soon as it’s delivered.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - March 29, 2020 - 11:18 AM

    I finally got a real adult sofa in my 60s! It is white Perennials and is bleachable. It is looking perfect except for the cat shredding. I’ve actually never had a cat who shredded furniture, so my three year old kitty decided to let me know I would not escape this life without loving a manic feline.

    She rarely gets onto the sofa, but loves to destroy it. I have to say that it is resisting her given the givens. I am heartbroken as it was a major splurge with down and the whole nine yards. I’ve got it barricaded, but she still gets between the barricades to do her work. And barricading is definitely not a decorating style! I’m just hoping she outgrows this tendency when I move and the living room isn’t adjacent to the sliding door which means freedom.

    At least the sofa is worthy of reupholstering. I refuse to believe she will do this her entire life!

    I am housebound due to chronic illness, but even I want to get out once a week!! It is not going to be possible for the next couple of months.

    I am hoping that this global crisis will give humans pause and teach us different ways of living. It is time for simultaneous global meditation.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - March 29, 2020 - 8:50 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    You mentioned that you get tired occasionally. Are you allowed to take a walk outside? I always feel better after a walk around the block.
    Thank you for all the information in this post. I’m not in the market for furniture but my daughter wants to buy a sectional next year. So I emailed this to her. She’s got 2 dogs.
    They don’t slobber but the shedding one of them does is off the charts!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Hijazi - March 29, 2020 - 8:11 AM

    Hello Laurel,
    Hope you’re doing well, not getting too stir crazy.
    I just received my new Brooke three seat Ivory Crypton
    sofa…Yes, I was so excited I allowed the delivery guys in my house…I stayed in the other room!
    You are spot on about this sofa. Perfect proportions, I’m in love with it. I was thinking to take one of the extra pillow covers and experiment with it…I was wondering about denim dye as one lady said it Does transfer. Nothing is perfect but it looks great! Thank you for the shopping guide. We’ve never bought a sofa without sitting on it first BUT so glad we did🤗ReplyCancel

  • Patti McGovern - March 29, 2020 - 7:44 AM

    Great, great article I will save. One thing to note about ultrasuede: I have Kravitz ultrasuede on a down parsons sofa and ultrasuede never loses its stiffness. Some people might think this is a good thing because the down never collapses, but it is not as comfortable as a cloth covered down sofa.
    Would love suggestions for products to repair an untreated black leather sofa that has become cat scratched. Stay well.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Bier - March 29, 2020 - 7:11 AM

    Really good information, Laurel, thanks for this post!
    One thing to keep in mind about white crypton fabric is that it can become stained from coming in contact with the blue dye in denim jeans. Here’s a link to a discussion on this topic: https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5685542/help-please-i-have-blue-jeans-stains-on-my-new-white-crypton-couch#n=76ReplyCancel

  • GL - March 29, 2020 - 4:20 AM

    Pleased to have this list of recommended fabrics (and gratified to find that my rolls of fabric in waiting are the right type!).
    I would add one caveat: the fake suede Alcantara (which is diabolically expensive) ends up by rubbing badly so that the arms and seat of a chair end up very worn (after 20 years).
    And one recommendation: I’ve made zipped covers for chair seats after the cheap originals turned disgusting, by buying heavy-grade foam and covering with a fixed cotton protective cover followed by a fake linen-look cotton, Teflon treated, which I’ve washed several times and which looks like new. But it did need to be pre-shrunk first. Unfortunately I can’t give you the manufacturer’s name, it’s called Coton Diabolo, from a mail-order site here in France.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - March 29, 2020 - 2:13 AM

    OMG! Cat fake nails. Too hilarious. My old Snow would NOT have complied with the application process. No way, no how, no sir! He was pure white, so I think he could have rocked the gold glitter colour way like a star. Great post. I got a pair of the most gorgeous club chairs for $50 that need new upholstery. Now I know what to look for. Yeah thank you!ReplyCancel