4 Things to considered when buying a couch: The Fabric
Updated: May 20
Let's start this post by deconstructing claims that pollute our trade.
Have you ever seen the reference to “PU Leather”, “Nappa Leather” or “Bonded Leather”? None of these products are actually genuine leather and are actually nowhere close. They are all PU (Polyurethane) products.
PU is widely used in the upholstery and clothing industry because of the fact that it looks like leather but also because it is very easy to maintain. Due to its non-woven structure, dust or liquid do not penetrate. However, it is a product sensitive to the acidity of sweat and to heat exposure (direct sunlight and heaters).
The quality of PU is determined by its thickness and flexibility; the thicker and more flexible, the more resilient and durable it is. Most of PU found today has a thickness of 0.6mm which is way to low to be used on a couch. The correct thickness for upholstery should be 1.0 mm minimum.
Another recent claims that we've seen popping around for woven polyester fabric, is the yarn count of the fabric. The higher the count, the thicker and therefore the stronger the fabric is. But these are unverifiable and often invented claims. The most common grading for knit or woven fabric is the GSM (gram per square meter); this is more verifiable provided you have a sample of the fabric. Again, the higher the GSM the stronger the fabric.
Woven fabric should have a backing either made of latex or of a non-woven material. If the backing is weak the yarn will move apart and the fabric will eventually tear. A naked eye can quickly see a low-density fabric; you can actually see gaps between the yarn when exposing it to light.
Recently we have also seen appear a very popular product called “Buffalo Suede”. No, it is not buffalo skin. It is a synthetic product commonly called “microsuede”; some are plain and other are embossed. Once again, the thickness of the fabric will define its durability.
Over the past 5 years we've witnessed the quality of fabric supplied in the market dropping substantially, driven by unscrupulous importers and manufacturers looking to lower their cost at any price.
It is always better to touch and feel the product; t is the only way to assess its quality. I know that buying online is more convenient, but if you want to make sure you are making the right choice, you need to physically see the product. At least half the customers that comes to the showroom with a product in mind, end up buying something else.
Seeing and feeling the actual fabric makes a huge difference at the end day.
For more info on fabric, check out our post on the 5 most common r type of fabric used in South Africa.