Good and Bad upholstery faux leather-fabric – what’s the difference?

REd faux leather on modernist chair
REd faux leather on modernist chair

We are sometimes casually reminded that “you pay for what you get”. Buying cheaper goods obviously encounters a lower cost on day 1 but as time passes the costs of cheaper products can raise their ugly head. Surely fabric is fabric and immune from this?

Sorry, no. Fabrics vary tremendously in quality and Faux Leather is no exception. Faux leathers are synthetic and can be manufactured following several processes. Good faux leather will be influenced by:

  • excellent quality raw materials,
  • ensuring the precise drying time for the paste to bond together the ‘layers’
  • Using the correct temperature.

Shoddily or speedily trying to manage these factors necessarily leads to a bad product. The product might look the same as another but the truth will out as the fabric starts to be used in earnest.

Differing kinds of upholstery Faux Leather will then be subject to treatments to make them suitable to the intended end use. So, for example, some have chemical stabilizers to reduce ‘fading’. If an insufficient concentration and purity of stabilizer is used then UV performance will degrade.
The quantity of material used in each layer too plays a very significant factor in cost and quality as the industry reference, Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications, notes;

Upholstery-grade cloth has a thick foam layer ranging from 360 to 480 grams per meter squared, a top layer of 180 to 360 grams per meter squared.

Cheaper faux leathers fail to meet these tolerances.

Faux leather needs the correct certification for the intended end-use. Otherwise the fabric can be flammable. A major UK retail furniture vendor was recently blasted for using cheaper, incorrectly treated faux leather upholstery fabric.

The cost of rectifying this poor quality is significant. Transport and re-upholstery costs are huge. Is it worth the risk to you as a designer or specifier?

With Faux Leather Upholstery Fabric, you really do pay for what you get.

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