June 29, 2022
Choosing the Right Upholstery Fabric - A Guide for Designers
GUIDE: How to Choose the Right Upholstery Fabric for Your Next Design Project With an endless variety of fabric options available on the market, choosing the right one for your projects can be overwhelming. Plus, it’s difficult to create pieces that stand out from the crowd when every designer in your competing space has access to the same resources and suppliers as you do.

With Ultrafabrics’ extensive product line, we can help you choose the right upholstery fabric for various applications while giving you the space to do what you do best - create.

Whether you’re looking for water-resistant upholstery fabric for boats, lightweight aircraft upholstery, or premium fabric for corporate offices and busy homes, this guide will walk you through our product line and explain exactly how to choose the right one for your next design project. .

Analyzing Your Requirements


No matter what it is you are designing, understanding the project's requirements is the first and most important step in selecting a fabric.


So, how do you nail down your product’s requirements? For starters, think about which attributes your clients value the most. From there, you can narrow your search based on the fabric’s inherent qualities, such as breathability, stain-resistance, antimicrobial protection, UV endurance, etc.


Ultrafabrics offers premium upholstery fabrics engineered to specific applications, with durability, comfort and style always held to the highest standard of excellence. What’s more, you can also order a complementary fabric swatch at any time, so you know exactly what to expect when placing your order.




One of the most important factors when selecting a fabric is durability – can it withstand the test of time? This is why, again, knowing the intended purpose of your upholstery and the type of material you are using is crucial. Typically, the best way to determine a fabric’s durability is through abrasion or its double rub count. However, in the case of Ultrafabrics, which is a premium polyurethane upholstery material, durability is determined by hydrolysis resistance testing and ultimately the resin type used. Polyurethane materials are made using 1 of 3 resin types – polyester, polyether, or polycarbonate. The durability of the resin, and ultimately the final material, is based on its ability to withstand exposure to extended periods of heat and humidity. These factors, like body temperature on a seat or temperature changes in a room, can cause polyurethane materials to peel, flake or delaminate, which are true failures and signs of a lesser-quality material. Hydrolysis resistance testing, also known as the jungle test, places polyurethane in a controlled chamber of 158 degrees Fahrenheit with 95% humidity to test its endurance. The Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) requires that the material remain in the chamber for at least 5 weeks to be suitable for upholstery. Polycarbonate resins can normally stay in the chamber 7-10 weeks. However, because Ultrafabrics uses 100% polycarbonate resins across its portfolio*, our materials can remain in the chamber 14+ weeks, placing it head and shoulders above ACT requirements and the competition. Additionally, our unique construction and high-quality ingredients allows the material to endure frequent disinfection or cleaning.


But what truly separates Ultrafabrics from other vegan leather alternatives is the fact that designers no longer have to sacrifice form for function, or vice versa. While our fabrics are high-performing and proven to withstand everyday use, our sophisticated design processes deliver in every area – style, comfort, strength and sustainability, so you never have to compromise.


When it comes to fabric applications in areas with lots of outdoor lounging, Coast is a top choice of designers.


Size and Shape of Furniture


The performance of fabric may vary depending on its application. A fabric that looks and feels great on a sectional sofa may behave differently when draped around a statement chair. If your furniture has several curves and angles, a solid-textured fabric would be an ideal choice. Regardless of application, if you want to experiment with something bold, our extensive library of colors and textures allow you to flaunt your freedom as a designer and explore possibilities beyond the norm.


If you’re looking for premier durability with trendy tones, consider our Promessa, Tottori or Ultraleather collections. If breathability is a priority, nothing beats the woven texture and comfort of Spectra Fabric.


Sun Exposure


As any designer knows, the amount of sunlight your indoor or outdoor space receives is not a factor to overlook.


If you wish to create a vibrant space that thrives in the sun, Ultrafabrics has a selection of outdoor collections, like Coast and Pumice for high-traffic spaces and marine, or Cora, Brisa Forecast, or Brisa Frontier for residential applications, with all options offer a variety of colors and shades. From vivid hues like Michigan Blue, Burnt Red and Sea Green, to neutral tones like Snow Cap, Beacon and Conch. All of our fabrics are the product of years of research, able to provide durable, fade-resistant upholstery that offers the best of indoor style with outdoor performance.




How the fabric looks is important, but how it will age is critical. This is why maintenance is a vital consideration when choosing fabric for high-traffic settings.


For these spaces, we recommend Reef Pro and Ultraleather Pro fabrics, which offer the highest level of stain resistance to denim dye, ballpoint pen, mustard, or ketchup – just to name a few. These fabrics are engineered with a proprietary technology that makes it a breeze to clean the toughest of stains.




Over the past decade as climate change and a global pandemic have taken the world by storm, consumer habits have changed to be more considerate of how they treat their bodies and the planet. In response to this conscious consumer movement, brands are re-evaluating and redefining their values and ideals. To be a part of positive change, consider using animal-free, vegan materials, that are responsibly made in your design projects. 


Ultrafabrics proudly provides our customers with sophisticated fabrics that offer a high performing and sustainable alternative to animal-based products. Our innovative materials conserve resources and protect the wellbeing of people and the planet, while meeting the demands of comfort and durability. In addition to being 100% free of toxic products with low VOCs, we are increasing the use of rapidly renewable resources. This includes our first biobased collection, Volar Bio, and using Tencel™ Modal fibers in fabrics like Cove, Dwell, Eco Tech, Fusion, Fusion Shimmer, Helix, and Volar Bio lines, representing 1/3 of our overall offering..


Final Thoughts


Your reputation as a designer relies heavily on the materials you choose for your project. That's why our team of innovators and designers work hard to make state-of-the-art fabrics that transcend our promise of comfort, durability and style.

We value your business and are happy to provide fabric samples upon request. Get in touch with our team today, and we'd be honored to support your vision.


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