Author Topic: Sustainable Considerations in Selecting Furniture - REED CONSTRUCTION DATA  (Read 2003 times)


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Here is a great article from Reed Construction Data's "Focus on Furnishings" eZine article (entitled "Furniture and Furnishings") which reviews sustainable factors to take into consideration when selecting furniture and furnishings. (Originally published February 2, 2013).


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This article mentions avoiding furniture that has upholstery that can not be removed and washed. Unfortunately I have found that almost every couch I have owned does not have removable upholstery! Are there ways to have your upholstery cleaned without using harsh chemicals? Or can the they be reupholstered and the old fabric recycled?


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Re: Sustainable Considerations in Selecting Furniture - REED CONSTRUCTION DATA
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2015, 03:34:54 pm »
Hi riabee11:

Yes, the majority of upholstered goods are made with non-removable upholstery which of course would not allow for removal and washing. A fabric's performance really depends upon the structure of the fabric, the fiber content of the upholstery, the type of soiling that has occurred, and whether the upholstery has been treated or not with stain resistent coatings.

Certainly all pieces can be reupholstered, but that is an expensive option and not one for general cleaning. Steam cleaning can be done by professional upholstery cleaners, or spot cleaning can help as well, but not all fibers should be steam cleaned or treated with heat and water or specific cleaning agents. You can look for companies that use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. If the fibers have been treated with a stain resistent finish, then wiping with a damp cloth may be enough...but for more substantial stains the cleaning method has to be right for the fiber type and the stain. Natural fibers that are "hydrophillic" like cotton, for example, will absorb water, and they will react differently to a stain and the cleaning process than man-made fibers that are "hydrophobic" like polyester. Oily stains will require different cleaning agents than stains that are not oil based.

Fine furniture companies and textile companies will have specifications and testing information for the fabrics that you will specify as an interior designer. so you can make good choices for your client and to meet code requirements for flammability for commercial projects. You can also specify a COM (customer's own material) in many cases where you have your choice of fabric shipped to the manufacturer and used to upholster the chair or sofa, etc. You can look for materials from preferred texile companies that have high ratings for their durability, flammability and stain resistence. One interesting one, for example, is "Crypton" http://crypton.com/contract/ Keep in mind though that it will then be your responsibility to ensure that your COM fabric has been tested to meet building code requirements (for commercial projects).

The textile industry and textile science is always changing and new innovations are happening all the time that result in better performance for fabrics, so staying up with the research is important. Fortunately we are well beyond the "plastic zippered covers" of the old days to keep our sofas clean!