Upholstery Fabric Finishes, Backings and Additional Treatments


After weaving, fabrics undergo finishing processes. This changes the feel, appearance, and durability of the fabric. There is literally hundreds of finishing that the fabric Stoffenmarkt Burg. van Stamplein Hoofddorp  may go through. Many cloths must be softened, cleaned, and be prepared to accept dyes or printing.

Cotton fabrics are pre-shrunk and mercerized. When a fabric is mercerized, the fibers are strengthened, made more lustrous, and receptive to dyes.

Wool may be sheared and singed to remove surface fibers and fuzz. Passing it through rollers can alter the surface pattern or sheen of a fabric. This process is called calendaring. This process is used to make smooth glazed or polished cotton and to produce knapped surfaces such as suede cloth or flannel. Calendaring can also create reflective or wavy patterns (example: Moir) on ribbed fabrics. Silks and nylon emboss into three-dimensional patterns.

Other finishing processes impart resistance to environmental influences that reduce the useful life of upholstery fabrics.


Fiber manufacturers can apply additional treatments for a variety of reasons. Listed here are just some of the more frequently used treatments. All these treatments aren’t found on all fabrics.

Anti-static finishes reduce soiling caused by a static electrical build-up in fabrics.

Mildew and bacteria inhibitors help prevent soil and odors created by microorganisms.

Flame-retardants slow down the spread of fire and stop burning when the flame is removed.

Fume-fading resistant finishes impede color loss in certain fabrics and dyes caused by airborne pollutants.

Moth proofing treatments stop the damage that moths do to protein fibers. (Example: silk or wool).

Water repellent finishes cause the yarns to repel water, while allowing the fibers to remain porous. This helps prevent sagging that may result from water retention, keeping the soil on the fabric’s surface.


Fabrics attain their color and design from several different methods of dying or printing. The method of dying or printing, directly affects how well a fabric will hold its color as well as the method and results each will attain.

Earlier in this book, the different fibers and methods of cleaning each fabric were discussed. The way a fabric is dyed or printed may change both the method of cleaning, as well as the expected results. The fiber might be very cleanable, but the dye or print may not be.

Some colors are added to the fiber before weaving, some are added after weaving. Dyes that are added before weaving has a tendency to be more durable, with better cleaning results. When dyes are added after weaving, they tend to remain only on the surface. These dyes are generally called screen-printed dyes.

REMEMBER: The way a fabric is finished or dyed, directly affects how well that fabric will serve your needs.

Dyes that are applied after weaving are very easy to identify. If the fabric is turned over, you will see that the print on the back of the fabric is not as bright. This tells you that the dyes are only on the top of the fabric.

Under these conditions, the method of cleaning is directly effected. These dyes are not always stable and color loss can occur. This color loss can result from use also. These types of dye are not very abrasion resistant. Premature fabric wear is likely to occur.

Dyes that are applied before the weaving process are called solution, skein, or vat dyed. These types of dying are also very to identify. Turn the fabric over; you will see that the brightness and design are the same on both sides. With this type of dye process, the wear and cleaning results will be much better, and consistent.


Fabric backings vary in types and thickness. The backing is determined by the weave and type of fabric. The purpose of the fabrics backing is to stabilize the weave.

This fabric, a blend of cotton and polyester shown above, is very tightly woven and would need no additional support from a supplementary backing. This type of fabric will keep its shape and stay relatively dimensionally stable.

SPECIAL NOTE:The backing or lack of stabilizer has some effect on how this fabric will clean. The less tightly woven a fabric is, the more important the backing becomes.

Most fabric backings are made by applying latex to the reverse side of the fabric. When a fabric has thick yarns (example: Haitian Cotton), more latex is required. Latex is soft and pliable and does not affect the feel or the texture of the fabric.

Loosely woven fabrics, such as a linen and cotton blend, depend on the backing for dimensional stability. When latex is applied to a fabric the cleaning method is changed. The above fabric (linen and cotton) is best solvent dry-cleaned. However, due to the latex backing, solvent dissolves latex, the only safe method is dry foam shampoo.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When selecting a fabric for your upholstery, always look at the back of your material. You will see a lot of hidden information if you know what to look for. You will see the fabric backing and the method used to dye that fabric. If you were to turn this linen sample over, you would see the latex backing and understand why it is needed.

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