Bar Stool Fabrics

Bar stools are used in a variety of settings, from commercial establishments to home bar rooms and kitchen diners. Having an upholstered, slightly padded seat makes a bar stool more comfortable to sit on for any length of time. However, the upholstery fabric needs to be suitable for environment in which it’ll be used. Of course, any bar stool is going to be at risk from drink spills, but some will be subjected to more use and abuse than others.

Stools in a busy pub or grill are going to be in constant daily use, so the upholstery needs to be very resilient and durable. It’s the same with kitchen stools, which can easily get all kinds of greasy food stains on the seats. If you’ve got children, things like felt tip pens can mark the fabric. On the other hand, in a home bar that you use just at the weekend, you could get away with putting aesthetics before practicality when choosing the fabric for your bar stools.

Microfiber is a modern synthetic fabric that has a number of qualities that make it suitable for use in furniture upholstery. The term microfiber describes the diameter of the superfine fibers, which are said to be 100 times finer than a human hair. Microfibers can be any fiber that can be made superfine, which includes all of the manufactured fibers that are liquid then squeezed through spinneret holes and dried into a fiber. The most common microfiber fabrics are made from polyester or nylon, or a blend of these. One of the major benefits of microfiber is that it repels, rather than absorbs, liquids. It causes liquid spills to form into beads so they don’t stain and are easy to clean off.

This type of bar stool upholstery can be cleaned with warm, soapy water – the heat opens up the fibers to release dirt – but you must avoid using bleach or fabric softeners as they can damage the fibers. Baking soda can be used to remove odors. As well as being water repellant, microfiber is breathable. It doesn’t release any lint or dust into the air, so it’s considered good for allergy-sufferers. It’s soft to the touch and is often used to make faux suede upholstery for bar stools. However, care must be taken to avoid getting oily or greasy marks on this fabric, as they will become trapped in the fibers. For this reason, this type of upholstery isn’t best suited for bar or counter stools at a kitchen island or breakfast bar counter where food will be prepared or eaten.

Another fabric commonly used to upholster bar stools is vinyl. Because of its high durability and resistance to wear and tear, it’s often used in commercial bar stools. This fabric has the benefits of being flame resistant, fade resistant and abrasion resistant. When used in upholstery, vinyl is compounded to give it a soft hand and coated with a protective finish to make it easy to wipe clean. Vinyl seats can be cleaned with a soft cloth, mild detergent and water, before being rinsed and dried. For really stubborn marks a brush with soft bristles can be useful. You’ll need to be careful to avoid using cleaning products that contain solvents that could damage the plasticizers and the soft surface.

Upholstered bar stools can be great items of furniture for your bar or kitchen. As long as you select a suitable fabric and take proper care of it, upholstered seats should give you years of use.
By Simon Phillips

Simon Phillips is co-founder of http://www.getbarstools.com
which offers reviews of all types of bar stools, consumer advice and listings of recommended brands.

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