You’ve heard about performance fabrics in two contexts:
- And upholstery at home (usually on the patio or poolside)
Performance fabrics have become a BIG deal in recent years because, like their name suggests, they have higher performance. Who WOULDN’T want a fabric (for the gym or the home) that resists stains, wear and tear?
There are many kinds of performance fabrics, too, and they each bring different benefits. That doesn’t spell out any hierarchy of “best” and “worst,” though, because different benefits will be important to different people.
Read: It’s actually your LIFESTYLE that points to the performance fabric that’s right for you. Can you imagine how that looks?
Keep reading to find out…
What performance fabrics should you know about?
So…you’ve heard of performance fabrics, but let’s take the time to explain them in detail, fabric by fabric.
These are the four performance fabrics that are most popular, and you’ll see why!
- Olefin has extraordinary performance qualities without needing to be treated. It’s just naturally amazing! It’s resistant to moisture (and everything that comes with moisture, like mold and mildew), it’s smooth (and resists abrasion as a result), and it’s the most versatile performance fabric in terms of style. It can even be woven into velvets and other textures.
- Polyester is another one of those easy-to-clean performance fabric options. When treated, it resists moisture, stretching, shrinking, and piling. Its moisture resistance includes a special ability to repel chemicals, too. Polyester is considered one of the best outdoor performance fabrics, when treated properly.
- Nylon makes you think of stockings first, right?! This fabric can also be woven into beautiful and durable fabrics that have a natural stretch and resist shrinkage and abrasion as a result. Nylon is also moisture-resistant, though it must be treated to resist stains effectively.
- Acrylic fabrics are naturally resistant to chemicals as well as moisture and spills. It’s super easy to clean, too, and it has a timeless look that’s almost wool-like…it dyes well due to its texture, and is known to lock in colors.
Where in the home can you use performance fabrics?
Let’s say your favorite shirt for the gym might be made of nylon. The uppers on your hiking shoes might be polyester. These fabrics are mercifully durable when faced with the extreme situations you put them in!!
Performance fabrics used in the home don’t have to be subjected to the same extreme conditions that your sports bra is, but they still need to be performance fabrics…
- For instance, using nylon for your couch upholstery will make it easier to clean and give it a FAR longer life.
- Using olefin for your dining room seat cushions might give you that velvet feel you LOVE without the care requirements of velvet.
- Using acrylic for your outdoor furniture could protect it from the sun, from color fading, and from SO many bacteria it’s exposed to.
Performance fabrics can be used inside and outside of the home, mind you. Just think through your spaces, room-by-room, and ask yourself what furniture WOULDN’T benefit from greater durability or ease of cleaning…
Here are a few examples of where to use performance fabric:
- Dining room chairs
- Breakfast nook coverings
- Home theater seating
- Family room seating
Next, knowing which fabric is right for your family—by way of your lifestyle—comes down to looking at your own priorities…
Which of these benefits are most important to you?
Start by selecting your TOP priority from this list. Then, try selecting your top TWO priorities. Which performance fabrics make multiple appearances?
- “I want my furniture to be child-proof.” Performance fabrics that are “kid-proof” have to be moisture and stain resistant, because sometimes a spill won’t get cleaned up right away! They also have to be abrasion-resistant for all that rough use as kids slide around. Fabrics that avoid static electricity buildup are better for kid-proofing, too. For child-proof performance fabrics, consider nylon or olefin.
- “Pet-friendly is my priority!” The needs for pet-proofing furniture are similar to those of child-proofing…though static might not be as much of an issue. For that reason, consider nylon, olefin, or acrylic if this is your top priority.
- If you LOVE white furniture…and if you want to KEEP it white, consider the most stain-resistant and pile-resistant fabrics. Polyester is known for its low absorbency, however it’s known to pile. On a cost-benefit analysis of the top performance fabrics, consider quick-drying olefin or mildew-resistant nylon (when it’s treated to avoid stains, too).
- “Just make my performance fabric last as LONG as possible!” If longevity is your priority because you know you won’t be replacing furniture anytime soon, you’ll want a fabric that is resistant to stretching and shrinkage while also resisting piling. Nylon fits the bill on most counts and is known for its durability. Another option would be olefin, which does not need any additional treatments to enjoy its naturally resistant qualities!
- “I want the widest range of styles in fabrics…” If you want a performance fabric for some of the obvious benefits, but your REAL priority is ensuring the right “look and feel,” you need the fabrics that come in an array of patterns and textures. Turn to olefin as the most versatile performance fabric. Acrylic is also lauded for being very easy to dye if it’s the perfect color you’re after!
Finally, as yourself…WHAT is the point of having beautiful furniture if you’re afraid to use it?! With performance fabrics, you can enjoy the LOOK and the functionality you need…and if you choose based on your lifestyle, you’ll get even more out of it!
For example, maybe your home sees a lot of foot traffic…or maybe the grandkids are always over…or maybe your pets mean the world to you. Whatever your needs—lifestyle and room-specific—you can find the perfect performance fabric by simply picking out your priorities above.