If you’ve recently shopped for a sofa, I can bet you got pretty overwhelmed with all the decision-making. Sofa, or sectional? A tight upholstered back, or loose cushions? Do you need a matching ottoman? Leather, or fabric? Do you need performance fabric for a sofa? What type of arm should it have? What kind of legs, and how high? Or maybe a skirt?
“Performance fabric” is one of those buzzwords floating around, but unless you know exactly what that means, it’s hard to know if it’s something you really need or a fancy marketing gimmick. Here’s the down and dirty on what performance fabrics are, and if you need ’em:
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Hey everyone, I’m Lesley Myrick – your interior design partner-in-crime to help you Bust Out Of Boring. Welcome to Episode 5:
Do You Need Performance Fabric for a Sofa?
Aah! I don’t know! We’re about to find out today.
We talked a little bit last week about my epic sofa failure and how getting a sofa with vinyl was not a good choice. It just deteriorated after a few years.
But the conversation I want to have today is about specific fabrics for a sofa – mainly, do you need Performance fabric for a sofa?
Now, you might not be familiar with the term “performance”.
Basically, Performance fabric is the kind of stuff that was used in restaurants and hospitals and – you know – fabric that’s plastic-y and resists stains and dirt and you can be pretty rough to it and it still holds up.
I will have you know that things have come a long, long way since then and there’s lots of fabrics available on the residential market that are “Performance”, meaning they have those stain-repellent qualities, they have treatments done to them and even woven into them that’s going to make them easy to clean, resistant to stains, really durable, but it’s not that old, stiff, commercial fabric you might be thinking of.
Now, do you need it for a sofa?
The short answer is, no – but yes.
I think Performance fabrics are an awesome option for a sofa in two really specific instances. The first one is if you have kids or pets (because those things make messes!) and the second is if you want a light-colored sofa, like a light linen color, white, a light grey, or something like that.
I see all these really cute inexpensive sofas on the market that are upholstered in beige linen or grey linen and, girlfriend, you pour one little bit of water or, heaven forbid, a little bit of red wine on that and you’re toast.
That sofa is never going to look like it did when it came to your home for the first time.
The benefits of performance fabrics are
that when you spill red wine on them, on a good performance fabric that stuff will bead up and roll right off.
Now, it doesn’t mean you can be super mean to them and just throw crap all over them! But it buys you time to clean them properly and it resists stains and it’s going to work really well.
So having little kids, having small pets or big pets, I think it’s a great great idea.
Think about that plastic sheeting on grandma’s couch back in the day. Grandma’s couch probably did need plastic sheeting because that fabric was way too delicate. But now, you don’t need itg – you can just get a really great fabric on your sofa and it kinda has the plastic secretly built in to the fibers which makes it super, super durable.
The other time you’re going to want a performance fabric specifically is if you’re doing a very light color.
A white couch – guys, you can do a white couch! If it’s your dream to have this pristine white couch you can actually do it with a performance fabric and get a really awesome result and have something that’s really going to serve you and function well, even though it’s white.
I show clients samples and they look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I’m proposing something that’s a really light color for upholstery, but with the right material it’s a really, really great fit for a project.
Now, I will say –
I mentioned last week that we just got our new sectional and I’ve got kids, and those kids can be dirty, and we did not do a performance fabric.
I did a teal sofa (obviously – I love teal!) and I didn’t like the options that were available in performance fabric in that color. So we chose to do a beautiful soft, silky velvet fabric. We also know how to clean it properly, we know it’s a darker color so it’s a bit more forgiving, and the kids now know they do NOT eat on our new sofa!
So that’s one way we’ve made it work.
But overall, do I recommend doing a performance fabric for a sofa? Yes.
It is just something that’s going to make your life a heck of a lot easier. You won’t be thinking and worrying about all the things spilling on your sofa, all that kind of stuff. I think it’s a worthy investment to look into it.
A lot of ready-made sofas have the option of performance but not that many. But if you look to a company that does custom, or semi-custom usually they’re starting to roll out some really great lines of fabric that do have performance characteristics like Crypton or Teflon. Sometimes the fabric is treated on top or underneath (sometimes both), and other times it’s actually woven into the fibers so they’re stain and soil repellant all the way through.
So – YES to performance fabrics if you want a sofa that’s going to last and look great and be easy to clean.
But here’s something to note…
I’ve heard stories of people complaining because they had a performance fabric and their sofa got dirty. Well yeah – you still have to clean it if anything happens to it and you spill on it! It’s not the plastic-covered sofas from the 70s you might remember your parents or grandparents having. It is still fabric, it is still a fiber with little pores that you can get stuff in – but it’s a lot easier to clean, maintain, and keep looking beautiful if you do invest in a performance fabric.
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