Heavy-Duty Fabrics Page for Comfy1
We offer well over 1000 heavy-duty fabrics in a huge selection of colors. NOTE: "Heavy duty" in the furniture industry refers to wear-resistance; "cleanability" is a distinctly separate feature, although many fabrics have both qualities. Stain repellancy is a third characteristic, distinct from either of the above two terms. Resistance to cat's claws is not something indicated by a standard test, but we can offer advice in that regard.
If you do a fabric search on most of the websites indicated on our main fabrics page (from which you may have just come, at www.cmft.com/fabrics.htm ) , many of the fabrics you see might be heavy duty but without any indication of that fact being shown. That information is almost always available on inquiry.
Measures of durability: There is an industry-standard test for durability, the Wyzenbeek test, which measures in numbers of "double-rubs" passed. If a fabric passes 15,000 double rubs, it qualifies as heavy duty. But many fabrics pass this test many times over. Specific test results are available for most fabrics, or at least information as to whether a fabric qualifies as "heavy duty" or "medium" or "light duty."
A collection of extra-heavy-duty solids and tweeds in a large selection of colors might interest you. Some people find these fabrics to be scratchy, but you can't beat them for practicality; they pass 250,000 double rubs, and the fiber content is very cleanable. Some of our customers, after 10 years or more of heavy family use of these fabrics, have told us that they look brand new. To see images of these, click here.
Heavy-duty fabrics in general,
including fabrics in a great variety of patterns, can be seen in
various websites as follows:
Most of the fabrics found on the page you get to by clicking on the following link are not only inexpensive but also heavy duty: click here. In the Charlotte site ( www.charlottefabrics.com ), you can view fabrics by "Type", one category of which is "commercial grade", but many or most of their other fabrics are also heavy duty. Duralee has a good selection of commercial-grade fabrics in interesting contemporary patterns (and higher price levels) but also many moderately-priced heavy-duty solids (see below). Most of the fabrics offered by Outdoorfabrics.com are heavy duty and stain resistant, as are many offered by Burch; both of these companies are referred to on our main fabrics page. Burch and Charlotte both have especially large selections of vinyl fabrics (most of which are heavy duty), including fabrics in excellent leather imitations. Many vinyl fabrics are subject to splitting open with use; we can test for that or advise you how to do so.
There are hundreds of heavy duty solids that provide especially good combinations of excellent durability with soft, smooth feel, along with very good cleanability. They are available in a huge range of colors (often with a subtle intermixture of colors), and most have interesting textures or a suede effect. Many of these exceed the industry's minimum standard for heavy duty use five, ten, or even more times. Some of them are said to be washable (most upholstery fabrics are not washable). These fabrics are mostly of polyester, so they should be quite cleanable, even if not washable. And they are generally also flame retardant. Hundreds of such fabrics are shown on our suppliers' websites. Hundreds more such fabrics are not pictured anywhere on the web, but we can have swatches sent to you if you indicate which particular colors interest you. They are mostly at the +5 to +7 level, adding $175 to $245 to the base price of a three-seat exposed-wood sofa ($300 to $420 for a fully-upholstered three-seater), or $125 to $175 to the price of a loveseat ($225 to $315 if fully-upholstered).
There is one collection that is worth special mention because it combines several sought-after characteristics: Robert Allen's "Soft Hand" pattern, which includes very economically-priced, very durable yet soft, pet-practical micro-suede solids (micro-suedes are popular in general, but especially with cat owners because of their lack of nubbiness). These fabrics pass an excellent 102,000 double rubs on the abrasion test, are 100% polyester and are therefore very cleanable, qualify under the California 117 stanrdard for flame resistance, are cleanable with water-based solutions, sell at the "+3" price level, adding only $105 to the price of a 3-seat exposed-wood sofa, and are available in a selection of eight solid colors: "coffee" (dark brown), "date" (medium reddish brown), "mango" (dark caramel), "apple" (as in Granny Smith apple green), "chili" (barbecue sauce red), ""agean" (medium, soft blue), and "marine" (Navy, very dark blue). These fabrics are made in China, but so are a high percentage of other fabrics these days. If you tell us which specific colors are of interest to you, we can send samples.
Sunlight: Fading and (with cottons) even disintegration can result from too much exposure to direct sunlight. One entire substantial website, outdoorfabrics.com, is devoted to fabrics (including the Sunbrella line) that are especially sun-resistant. The websites of Burch, Charlotte and Kravet (mentioned below) have substantial selections of fabrics that are especially sun-resistant, and other websites probably also offer such fabrics.
Cats' claws: Choose a fabric that is smooth in texture (the many suede-type, micro-fiber fabrics should be ideal). Avoid like the plague: nubby fabrics, especially ones with loops on the surface. Be aware that the heavy-duty ratings have little relevance to resistance to cats' claws.
For maximum stain resistance (short of using a vinyl fabric) plus anti-microbial properties, along with heavy-duty abrasion resistance, and typically at a fairly high price, be sure to consider the "Crypton" fabrics. See the paragraph dealing with Cryptons farther down this page.
Scotchgarding and similar treatments: See the cautionary notes on this subject near the bottom of this page, under the category "Stain Resistance and Stain Repellancy".
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