There is so many fabrics out there, it’s tricky to chose the perfect sofa fabric that will suit our lifestyle and space. And unless you work with fabrics everyday all day like me it might get a bit confusing.

So here is a “Guide to fabrics” I put together so you know what to pay attention to while choosing a perfect fabric for your home.


First of all, ask yourself who will be using the sofa? Is it for a cinema room for the whole family and friends to hang out in? Is it for a formal living room you will receive guests from time to time? Maybe for a library-or a playroom? Each upholstery fabric undergoes a special rub test called the Martindale test (or the rub test) – the result of the test indicates how durable the fabric is. 

Knowing the rub test result will help eliminate the fabrics that are not suitable for your needs.

Less than 10,000 rubs – Fabric for decorative use like cushions or curtains. Won’t be suitable for upholstery (but you may use it for a back of an occasional chair).

15,000-25,000 rubs – The fabric will be suitable for a light domestic use, occasional armchairs or a formal living room sofa you use from time to time.

28,000 – 30,000 rubs – The fabric with this test will be good for general domestic use on an everyday sofa for a living room.

Over 40,000 rubs – If you have kids and friends over all the time or use a fabric in a busy family/cinema room the higher rub test the better. Look for fabrics over 40,000.

Type of fabric

Depending of the style you want to achieve and the use of a room, you might go for a plain, chenille, suede, linen or wool fabric or velvet.

Plain fabrics, especially cotton blends and linens are casual and will look great in a contemporary space. The choice is REALLY wide but you can find great plain fabrics in any price range.

Wool fabrics are durable and stain resistant and will be best in traditional and rustic interiors, cottages and country houses.

Velvet reflects the light which make it look more shiny and therefore formal. Although, if you like the softness of a velvet but don’t like the shine – go for a 100% cotton velvet. Pay attention to the the pile as well. Touch the sample back and forth to see how it moves. You don’t want to have to brush it back to smooth all day at home.

If you are on the budget, don’t overlook the synthetic fabrics- they are much cheaper and some of  them really look and feel great and have a high rub test in the same time (example of my recent favorite this fabric from Houles or this velvet).

Texture and colour

Even a fabric considered “plain” can have a texture so really test the fabric before going ahead. Some fabrics have metallic tones to them, some of them a bigger, irregular weave and some will look really smooth and regular. The important thing is to take the sample home and test in the room you want to use it in – the color can look completely different in the natural light and you don’t want a surprise on the delivery day! If you want to use colour but are not sure about using it on a big piece – tr it on the cushions or back of the chairs- it’s much easier to get new cushions than replace a sofa.

Care and maintenance 

Ask if the fabric is washable and if it is, make sure the sofa has a removable covers you can take cleaning- this will make your life so much easier. Also, ask if the manufacturer offer Guardman protection- it usually comes with a full cleaning service – in case of accidental spillage your sofa will be professionally cleaned or if not possible – the fabric replaced. This only works on plain fabrics, if you want a velvet sofa, ask for a dry policy protection!

I hope this is helpful, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below! 


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