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Microfiber upholstery: Is it any good?

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 01:11 pm
Does it pass the kid/dog/cat test?

Does it pass the cleanablitly test?

Does it pass the wear and tear test?

Fill me in!

Please!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 32,975 • Replies: 84
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GeneralTsao
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 07:37 pm
Re: Microfiber upholstery: Is it any good?
boomerang wrote:
Does it pass the kid/dog/cat test?

Does it pass the cleanablitly test?

Does it pass the wear and tear test?

Fill me in!

Please!


I have not seen enough of this to know thorough answers. However, my answers will be better than any you've received thus far. Smile

First, some background: I am a certified Master Textile Cleaner, specializing in carpets, rugs, and upholstery.

Microfiber, as I know it, is a special polyester fiber which is very fine denier (diameter), and extruded such that there's fine "slits" running the length of the fiber.

You've heard of the microfiber towels & cloths? They are super-absorbant. However, polyester itself is almost non-absorbant!

The fine denier and the slits account for the fiber's apparent absorbancy. The microfiber uses capillary action to hold dirt and liquids. Think of this as holding two pieces of glass together flat. Then dip one end of the "sandwich" into a liquid. That liquid will travel upward between the slides of glass.

Likewise, microfiber absorbs liquids simlarly.

So, the trick to cleaning microfiber is to release the dirt from the slits in the fiber, as well as from between the fibers themselves, and the foundation of the fabric itself. As you can see, this can prove difficult.

Polyester fiber is fairly stain-resistant, and water-repellant, so theorhetically, it should clean up easily. What makes it difficult is the physics of removing dirt from such small fibers (which happen to have a whole lot of surface area).

Keep in mind, too, that polyester is easily stained by oily/greasy spills such as buttered popcorn, salad oil, hair oils, lotions, etc.

Many microfiber fabrics are made to look like suede. The worst part about cleaning these is that if it takes some physical aggression to remove the dirt or stains, the fiber will distort easily, and you'll leave a mark from the scrubbing or overworking of the fabric.

On the upside, microfiber is very soft and comfortable. I've never sat on microfiber in shorts on a hot day, but you might want to try that before you buy--synthetic fabrics will reflect body heat more than cotton or wool.

A regular polyester fabric will also feel "sweatier" than a cotton one. I suspect the microfiber polyester won't feel as sweaty, as regular, but moreso than cotton.

As with anything, you should clean up spills promptly, vacuum at least weekly, and have professional cleaning in at least 6-12 months intervals to keep your fabric a) clean and sanitary, and b) looking its best and lasting longest.

I do not know microfiber's durability.

General Tsao
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:32 pm
Hi General Tsao and thank you for your reply.

I'm insane for beautiful textiles. I'll bet your job brings you in touch with things I only dream of (or fondle in the fabric store).

Trying to learn about microfiber has been very confusing.

The stuff that makes up towels and cloths used for cleaning seems to follow a different process than that used for upholstery.

It is very confusing!

Apparently one process gets the fiber to repel liquids (this is the kind used in upholstery and clothing) and one process makes it more absorbent (this is the type used in toweling).

The process is something called, I think, "splitting", but I haven't entirely figured it out.

We did go out and look at some furniture tonight and I noticed that a lot of the microfiber stuff warned that it was flammable. I don't think I want that even though we aren't careless with fire!

I'm thinking that there must be several grades of microfiber though.

I have an ultrasuede shirt (the original microfiber) that I bought at Nordstoms about 15 years ago. I've washed this thing at least a 1,000 times and it still looks like new.

It is indestructible.

My husband is insiting on leather furniture but the prices are so prohibitive that I am looking at options.

We live a big, messy life. I don't want to be freaky about the things in our house, but I don't want to be all "Tobacco Road" with it either!
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:35 pm
Wow!

What an answer.

Rather than hijacking yet another one of Boomer's threads (but but she starts such good ones and then I...), I'll start a new one to ask you something GeneralTsao, if I may...
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:39 pm
Ummm... You can ask here soz as that will help me from having to keep track of another thread that I'm sure I'll want to read anyway.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:47 pm
Oh, already made it... here 'tis:

http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=63869
0 Replies
 
LionTamerX
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:54 pm
Boomer,
Our cat loved our brand new $1000 microfiber couch so much that he promptly made it his new litter box.
The couch still reeks of cat urine one year later, despite numerous attempts at cleaning.

Your mileage may vary...
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 08:58 pm
Ugh!

I do have a cat. And two dogs. One of the dogs is quite ill and ..... occassionally aromatic.

She can't get up on furniture though because she just can't -- she's too unlimber.

And we do rely on pet doors so we don't keep a litter box for the cat. We've never had any kind of accident.

But your comments recommend that I follow Mr. B's leather advice!
0 Replies
 
LionTamerX
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 09:03 pm
We had a weird cat, boomer. He ran away, and all we have of him is the smell of his pee...

Somehow, we still miss the little fella.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 09:11 pm
<snork>

Cats!

Go figure.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 09:13 pm
I have a primitive response re various polyester and highend polyester stuff... re flammability. I admit to breaking down and wearing some of it sometimes, at least cloth that has polyester or microfiber percentage wise, but never without slightly thinking about it.

I am just now giving away my green leather sort of couch to my sweet gardener... warning him that one falls off of it while watching tv. Still it is cool, sleek lines. No, no, you don't want it, boomer, at the least it is too small, not to mention slippery.

I got it at a place called Plummer's in west los angeles..
I suppose their couches were not the best, but they were fine for the time we needed them. There must be equivalent places in your area..
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 09:21 pm
The place we looked today was probably sort of like Plummer's, osso!

I've reconcilled myself to not having the best -- even the used best -- but I still want something that is not going to fall to pieces.

Or that I will slip off of!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Nov, 2005 10:27 pm
We have an ultrasuede couch. It's great for collecting cat hair. No major stains, though, even after two years.
0 Replies
 
GeneralTsao
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Nov, 2005 07:19 am
"Apparently one process gets the fiber to repel liquids (this is the kind used in upholstery and clothing) and one process makes it more absorbent (this is the type used in toweling). "

This could very well be right. It's amazing the things that fiber manufacturers can do! I'd expect that the microfiber for upholstery, then, would simply be of really fine denier, making it feel soft.

For repelling liquids and soil, I expect that Scotchgard or Teflon are still used.

Regarding flammability, you'd be hard pressed to find any "normal" fabric that's not flammable.

The only natural non-flammable ones I can think of are wool and leather. And wool is considered non-flammable, even though it will burn.

No kidding. Basically, it's because wool will self-extinguish if the source of the flame is removed. Try this with any hair and a lighter.

You can get flame-retardant treatments for fabrics (they require these in commercial buildings for non-wool fabrics), but I don't think they usually do it on upholstery for the home.
0 Replies
 
GeneralTsao
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Nov, 2005 07:23 am
Oh, and leather is not as expensive as you think (unless you're like me and won't buy anything til you can afford the best).

I've seen leather sofas for about $600. Now this is, of course, a lower-quality, thinner leather, usually protected leather (the smooth stuff).

You'd pay more for an aniline, nubuck, or suede of course. You could get into the many thousands of dollars for really nice leather!

The nice thing about protected leather is that it generally cleans up easily--just a damp cloth--and does not stain as easily as anilines et al.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 05:02 pm
I've got a sofa!

It is good to check in and see General Tsao's comment about nubuck because the one we bought is nubuck!

I was worried about that choice but it is so lush and comfortable, much more so than the flat, smooth leather.

The style is a lot more traditional than I would have normally gone for but this thing is built like a tank, is in pristine condition and was only $600! Compared to all of the others we looked at this was by far the best value.

It is squishably soft and a beautiful brown that goes with my dark brown walls beautifully.

Okay General Tsao, how do I take care of nubuck?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 05:14 pm
Yay! No more sofa constipation! Fantastic!

Got a pic?

(Hey, I'm yaying you a lot, aren't I? Well, good news is... good!)
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 05:19 pm
I'll go take a photo. It will take me a bit to get it all loaded and such.

Then everyone can help me figure out what kind of stuff I can get to kind of funk it up a bit. I need a couple of chairs and a table or two.

I'm not all into matchy-matchy so I'm thinking something kind of weird or retro to go with it.

Hang on......
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 05:22 pm
Did you buy it in an actual factual store or craigslist?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 05:45 pm
Here it is:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v667/boomerangagain/sofa.jpg

It is waaaaay traditional but I could tell that Mr. B liked it better than the modern stuff I like. Truthfully, it is way more comfortable than the modern stuff I like.

I'm still a little worried about nubuck in combination with messy, paint spattered, pizza sauced, clay coverd Mo but for the quality and the price, if it lasts us five years we came out ahead.

Now. What to put with it? I'm thinking modern and streamlined with a funky carpet.

I did buy it off craigslist from a really lovely couple (he reminded me of Richard Gere, she was this very mellow, calming Asian woman). They lived in this incredible house with an amazing view of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Ranier. I wanted to move in with them.

Not that that swayed our decision to buy. I had done a bit of research on the sofa. It is Pelle leather (which is supposed to be good) and the manufacturer is Drexel Heritage (which is supposed to be good).

It is so nice to have something to sit on!
0 Replies
 
 

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