Faux Leather Upholstery

Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette
Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette

Faux (or fake) Leather offers a great alterantive to leather. With Martindale rubs of over 100,000 this is a very safe choice for high use contract areas. It’s usually made of a pure cotton basecloth with a poly-cotton visible coating. There are many other animal skins that are mimiced in the same way and in many cases the finishes are convincing.

But why not just use leather?

Much leather production has now moved away from the West to areas with less stringent environmental laws and lower wage rates. This is where the problem lies.

Chromium based compounds are used in the tanning and curing process of real leather. They are thought to be carcinogenic as, in some European tanning factories, cancer rates were found to be up to 50% higher in workers than in the population as a whole. Furthermore there were higher incidences of Leukemia in children living in areas near the tanneries. Environmental problems are exacerbated by the siting of factories next to rivers; the significant amounts of discharge that are produced are fed into the water courses and then dispersed over wide areas. In more lowly regulated economies it is not unreasonable to believe that the situation is probably worse.

Moving towards a better leather requires that chromium use is stopped completely and that the water used in production is cleaned and re-used in the factory. Any tanins and dyes uses would preferably be plant based.

Food for thought: If you wear leather clothing on sweaty skin then chromium residues in the leather can rub off and enter the skin.

Faux Leather on doors and walls

Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette
Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette

KOTHEA had two recent projects where we had to adhere Faux Leather vertically. This poses a more serious challenge than paper-based wall coverings due to both the weight of the fabric (nearly 1kg per linear metre) and the wear and tear when adhered to a door. Both installations were more involved than domestic ones as we had to consider firstly the use on a yacht in a marine environment and secondly the high levels of usage of a hotel.

So the adhesive needs to be strong.

A further set of issues to overcome are related to how the fabric might react to any chemicals in the adhesive. In both instances our fabric had a 100% cotton back coat with a vinyl mix visible layer. Superfically a conclusion could be drawn that most adhesives would be OK with the surfaces they are fastening to in these instances ie a natural wooden door and inert stone wall combined with the natural cotton back cloth. However the adhesive will almost certainly penetrate the back cloth. Becuase of this the use of a solvent based adhesive, such as Asceton, is most definately not recommended.

So the adhesive needs to be strong and water based.

After performing suitability tests in these instances we chose to use Mapei’s Adheselix VS45 . VS45 is an acrylic adhesive in water dispersion and has been used extensively by Mapei’s customers for PVC/foam wallcoverings and rubber flooring. An alternative of Adesilex G19 was also suggested for areas with more moisture but that was not necessary in these cases.

Directory Listings Of Top Market Fabric Suppliers In The UK

555722790393613763_3d6571c7061dClick the fabric company name for their web site:

Abbot and Boyd 020 7351 9985
Altfield 020 7351 5893
Alton Brooke 020 7376 7008
Borderline 020 7823 3567
Brian Yates 01524 35035
Brunswig 020 7351 5797
Bruno Triplet 020 7823 9990
Chase Erwin 020 8875 7441
Colefax 020 7244 7427
Colony Fabrics 020 7351 3232
Donghia 020 7823 3456
Gainsborough Silk 01787 372081
Henry Bertrand 020 7349 1477
Jab 020 7349 9323
Jane Churchill 020 7244 7427
Jrobertscott 020 7376 4705
KOTHEA 020 8943 4904
Kravet 020 7795 0110
Lee Jofa 020 7823 3455
Lelievre 020 7352 4798
Manuel Canovas 020 8877 6400
Nobilis 020 7351 7878
Pierre Frey 0207 376 55 99
Robert Allen 01494 474741
Sacho Hesslein 020 7352 6168
Silk Gallery 020 7351 1790
Turnell and Gigon 020 7259 7280
Watts Westminster 020 7376 4486
Zimmer and Rhode 020 7351 7115
Zoffany 08708 300 350

Many of these fabric companies sell a wide range of products including: chenille, contract fabric, faux / fake leather, mohair velvet, linen velvet, cotton velvet, wool,  hand woven products, natural silk, cashmere and damask for upholstery, curtains and cushions.

Knit Back Fabric Backing

Schematic of stockinette stitch, the most basi...
Image via Wikipedia

Some fabrics can be too fragile for use as upholstery unless knit backed. Knit backing is a process whereby, for example, a cotton polyester backing is applied to a lighter weight chenille, silk or cotton.

Essentially the fabric‘s life is increased with better durability and resilience. The handling characteristics of the fabric can be improved; and knit backing also helps prevent seam slippage.

The same principle applies for the fabric whether or not it is to be used for either upholstery or wall covering. There will certainly be other requirements for contract usage, say, in hotels and aviation and also other treatments like fire retardancy or stain protection would be required for contract upholstery.

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

Red faux leather upholstery on chair
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.

Faux Leather Upholstery Fabrics

Off- white faux leather upholstery

KOTHEA Faux Leather Upholstery Fabrics

Off- white faux leather upholstery
Off- white faux leather upholstery

KOTHEA is the UK’s supplier of choice for high-end quality faux leather upholstery fabrics for  commercial and residential applications, offering an extensive colour palette, great design and cut lengths.

Performance Fabric For Cleaning – Our faux leather upholstery fabrics are resistant to many of life’s daily hazards. Whilst we might not be able to defend against the rigours of a cat’s claws we can fight off the most intense family usage in residential developments as well as meeting the needs of hotels and other public spaces.

Grains and texture– We have grain and luster mimicking differing hide ‘patterns’, as well as the soft and supple feel like natural (treated) leather.

Superior Properties – We research the industry technical requirements fro upholstery and then strive to exceed them. Our contract grade faux leathers upholstery fabrics have some of the very highest Martindale Rub test results in the UK (We have not seen higher performance figures from our competitors)

Colours and Palettes in Our Collections – We have an extensive palette of muted neutrals in our upholstery faux leather fabrics, whilst also recognising more recent tonal trends in many contract applications as well as some residential applications we have a significant number of striking colours and tones.

Marine– We have exceptionally high performance characteristics even for demanding marine environments for faux leather upholstery fabrics.

Perfect for

  • Hotels
  • Cruise Liners
  • Yachts
  • Hospitality
  • Private / Residential
  • Leisure
  • Bars
  • Club Houses

Use for

  • Interior Seating
  • Wallcovering / Wall panels
  • Headboards
  • Bed Bases

Faux Leather Upholstery Fabrics

Black Faux Leather Upholstery
Click Image To Request Samples

KOTHEA are one of the UK’s leading Faux Leather suppliers to the Interior Design and Architectural sector. Our products in this sphere have high peformance, commerical and residential characteristics – fantastic durability and adherence to appropriate fire retardancy standards.

We have several faux leather collections – they are aimed specifically for upholstery but are often also used on walls, doors, sometimes for curtains and cocktail bar fronts and stools.

Most of the wide range of colours we stock are available in several different finishes. The finishes range from a ‘flat’ vinyl to a heavily, but naturally, textured leather finish. Inbetween these extremes there are leather textures with differing degrees of depths of textures.

Click HERE To Request Samples.

The ‘feel’ of the collections vary. Some are very like leather to the touch, whilst others are more vinyl. Typicallymore vinyl-type finishes have highly superior cleaning and light fastness properties.

Please note that these faux leathers are specifically targetted towards interiors. They are not thin, low-grade fashion faux leather.

We also have several ranges of faux animal skins, mimicing skins such as crocodile and ostrich. These are niche products and are only available by the roll.

Textile Pinking Machines

For the emergency fabric samples that we sometimes have to make when we are out of stock of samples we use the GOLDSTAR pinking machine. Here’s a quick youtube video from the manufacturer

And here is another one that looks a bit more industrial strength.

11 Top London Upholsterers – London Upholstery At Its Very Best

Orange, Black and red colourful velvets

Here are a great selection of London based upholstery companies. Some of them are relatively small and other are very considerable and long-established companies. They are not necessarily at the upper end of the market, nor the bottom. I guess I could more easily say here is a range of upholstery and re-upholstery companies in London ! Enjoy, in no particular order.

Barnes Upholstery – 020 8255 9797 info@barnesupholstery.co.uk/
Sofa And Chair Co – 020 8752 8938 info@thesofaandchair.co.uk

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Business-Related Interior Design Articles

Whilst we have dealt with some of these companies as clients this post is not intended as a specific recommendation, or otherwise, of any of them.

 

 

SJ Upholstery 078 7652 8213
Moore’s Upholstery – 020 8421 5448
Chelsea Upholstery 020 7384 1666 info@chelseaupholstery.co.uk
Brown Antiques  020 7736 4141  sales@brownantiques.com
Fine Line Upholstery –  020 7407 7438 info@finelineupholstery.co.uk
Upholstery Village – 020 7731 6586 UpholsteryVillage@hotmail.co.uk
HJ Cooper – 020 8788 8673 enquiries@hjcooper.com
Barnett Upholstery 020 7622 9347 s.carter@barnettupholsteries.co.uk
7 Upholstery – 020 7613 4925 upholsterye27dj@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Textile Tuesday – Leather for Walls      

Yep it’s a good idea, especially in commercial spaces. We even got asked for faux leather for contract curtains recently – the ultimate black-out window treatment. Great in terms of cleanability although you have to be very careful when specifying the FR compliance.

http://www.kothea.com/faux-leather-upholstery-black.htm