Fabric has many uses, and while it's pretty obvious why certain weights of fabrics are used for certain types of clothing, when it comes to fabrics used for interior design, it's not quite so clear. But just because the world of interior fabrics are a bit more complex for non-professionals to understand, it doesn't mean that you can't learn enough to make wise choices for your home.
Often times, we can be wowed by beautiful colors, textures and patterns without really paying attention to whether or not the durability of the fabric is fit for what it's needed for. Generally, interior fabric weights specifically upholstery fabrics can be categorized into "light," "medium," and "heavy." The more you know will help you choose the proper weight and quality for your project.
An easy way to determine if a fabric is the right weight for you is by understanding how its durability is tested. Manufacturers will perform a "double rub" test to determine fabric strength. The double rub, is a back and forth motion that gives an approximation of the wear and tear. Three thousand double rubs are equivalent to one year's worth of use. Below is a breakdown of how light, medium and heavy weight fabrics stand up to the test.
Light Weight Fabric
Lightweight fabric can handle roughly 3,000 to 9,000 double rubs, meaning this isn't the best fabric for heavy use. At best, this fabric will withstand up to three years of regular use, so it's best to keep it for items such as accent pillows, curtains, or chair cushions that get minimal use. When looking at lightweight fabrics, lean toward tight weaves and durable fibers like cotton, linen, nylon and microfibers.
Medium Weight Fabric
Fabrics of medium weight can handle approximately 9,000 to 15,000 double rubs. These are fabrics that would serve well in the family and/or living rooms. Since they are more versatile that light weight fabrics, they can be used in many more ways.
Heavy Weight Fabric
These fabrics are the most durable, able to withstand more than 15,000 double rubs. In the past, heavyweight fabrics used to be stiffer and thicker. Today, however, newer blends are available, leaving you with much more supple and softer options. Choose heavyweight fabrics for heavy use pieces and elegant drapery. Be sure to factor in texture when looking at heavyweight fabrics (this can apply to medium weight as well). Certain overlaid patterns and textures can fray easily, so be careful as to where you use it. Just because it's heavyweight, doesn't mean all textures can withstand heavy wear.
Some additional things to consider and remember when deciphering fabric weight:
- Look for wearability codes such as LD, MD,and HD on fabric swatches to determine if it's light, medium or heavy. Some swatches may have a DD, which stands for delicate duty.
- To prolong the fabric's lifespan, keep it out of direct sunlight if possible.
- If you live in a humid climate, look for mildew-resistant fabric.
- Delicate fabrics should be avoided if you have indoor pets.
While it is always nice to know the brand name of a product, it's important to remember that quality doesn't have to be expensive. Be sure to shop around and speak with fabric suppliers directly when possible. Fabric can be changed, but to save in the long run, it's important to keep in mind that it's an investment that should be well understood.
When you are looking for a fabric store near you in Missouri City, TX, stop by our Interior Fabrics location in Houston, Tx for great deals on discount designer fabrics. You will find something for every home interior project from gorgeous drapery fabrics to lightweight cottons and luxurious Dupioni Silks.