How Durable is Upholstery Cotton?

Upholstery cotton is a common choice for covering most home and office furniture. It is beautiful and there is such a great variety of upholstery cotton that the differences in design and style are practically endless.

How Durability is Measured and Tested

There are official and standard tests that upholstery manufacturing companies conduct in order to determine the durability of a particular type of upholstery. The company literally takes a large swatch of the material to be tested and stretches tight. Then another piece of cloth is rubbed on it to imitate regular wear and tear on the material. From the moment that one strand of the fabric tears the count of how many rubs it took is recorded. This is actually called the "double rub rating." When rating fabrics for upholstery the bare minimum count of rubs allowed is 30,000. If the fabric is to be used in an industrial manner then the number can go up in excess of 100,000 to be strong enough.

Types of Cotton Upholstery


Canvas is an extremely durable upholstery cotton. The strands that make up the fabric are thick and course and this enables the entire structure of the finished product to be very strong. Consider the difference between a thread and string. The thread will not hold up as well as the string for the obvious reason that it is not as thick.


Corduroy is an attractive retro appearance for upholstery. This fabric is not quite as durable as canvas. Corduroy is a medium strength base fabric that has a mat finish of strips of thick cotton. The strips of cotton have the potential of rubbing off with friction although it will take a considerable amount of time.


Of upholstery cottons this pretty and delicate fabric would be considered quite low on the double rub rating scale. It is made of thin fibers that will not hold up to wear very well. A chair or chaise lounge could be covered with this fabric if used in a bedroom or a sitting room where there is little use of the furniture. 

Cotton Yarn Fabric

Cotton yarn is a good choice in durable upholstery. The thickness of the fibers that make up the fabric is much the same as canvas but not quite the same durability. Like any of the upholstery cottons the only limitations to design and color is the imagination of the manufacturer and the buyer.

Other Features of Upholstery Cotton

In addition to the wear and tear that can occur in any of the types of upholstery cotton available one must consider the durability of the appearance of the fabric and therefore the furniture. Cotton does not withstand wrinkles well and is easy to rip along seams because the integrity is weakened by the stitching. Regardless of the choice of upholstery cotton that you use, it is important to understand what you are going to be upholstering and the wear and tear potential of the piece of furniture that you are covering. Footstools and favorite recliners or sofas should be covered with a more durable fabric than a vanity seat.