Upholstery Fabric Finishes, Backings and Additional Treatments


After weaving, fabrics undergo finishing processes. This changes the feel, appearance, and durability of the fabric. There is literally hundreds of finishing that the fabric may go through. Many cloths must be softened, cleaned, and be prepared to accept dyes or printing.

Cotton fabrics are pre-shrunk and mercerized. When a fabric is mercerized, the fibers are strengthened, made more lustrous, and receptive to dyes.

Wool may be sheared and singed to remove surface fibers and fuzz. Passing it through rollers can alter the surface pattern or sheen of a fabric. This process is called calendaring. This process is used to make smooth glazed or polished cotton and to produce knapped surfaces such as suede cloth or flannel. Calendaring can also create reflective or wavy patterns (example: Moir) on ribbed fabrics. Silks and nylon emboss into three-dimensional patterns.

Other finishing processes impart resistance to environmental influences that reduce the useful life of upholstery fabrics.


Fiber manufacturers can apply additional treatments for a variety of reasons. Listed here are just some of the more frequently used treatments. All these treatments aren’t found on all fabrics.

Anti-static finishes reduce soiling caused by a static electrical build-up in fabrics.

Mildew and bacteria inhibitors help prevent soil and odors created by microorganisms.

Flame-retardants slow down the spread of fire and stop burning when the flame is removed.

Fume-fading resistant finishes impede color loss in certain fabrics and dyes caused by airborne pollutants.

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