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Velvet & Velour Upholstery Care & Maintenance Tips

Sanderson Velvet - The Art of the Garden Collection

Velvet is a woven fabric with evenly distributed cut threads forming a short dense pile. Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fibre (Velveteen is a fabric made to imitate velvet, normally made of cotton).

Velour is a knitted fabric, similar to velvet.  It is usually made from cotton, but can also be made from synthetic materials such as polyester.

These fabric-types, whose qualities overlap, share one particular quality in common – they have a short pile (the raised surface of a fabric, consisting of upright loops or strands of yarn).

The days when a fabric with a pile (velvet for the sake of simplicity) was exclusively a luxury item have long gone. There are now many contract–quality velvets available – but the characteristics of velvets are rather different to those of more standard fabrics.

jagger armchair in velvet

Velvet’s changing appearance

Velvet will naturally shade lighter or darker depending on the lay of the pile. Brush it one way and it might be darker, brush it the other way and it may become lighter. Care when brushing or hoovering the fabric will minimise this.

The pile of this chair is facing in multiple directions so it appears as different shades.

velvet bruise

Velvets can be bruised

If a velvet pile is pushed in different directions, it can appear ‘bruised’, showing irregular marks, particularly noticeable on a plain fabric. This can usually be removed by careful brushing or hoovering.   We regularly find bruised velvet when a chair is unwrapped following a delivery. More stubborn bruising can take time as well as care to remove.

velvet upholstery gathering

Velvet can be more difficult to upholster

Because the pile of velvet makes it a thicker fabric, this can make it more difficult to upholster, one result that the fabric can slightly gather occur along a seam line. Another case in point is this pouf  which was upholstered with a thick velvet. Curved or circular designs require thinner materials or they will be too stiff to upholster neatly.

Dust is not your friend

The pile of fabric, particularly if charged with static electricity, can be a dust magnet, leaving a velvet chair looking like it's been abandoned in an uninhabited palace for several decades.

The solution is simple though: a hoover.

Caring for velvet

The fine pile of velvet ideally requires a fine brush; we have found a suede brush to be particularly effective. Most velvet can also be wiped with a wet sponge and a lint roller is a further useful tool. For stubborn bruising and marking, velvet can also be (gently) steamed. If this does not work, some heavier marks may become a permanent patina. Permanent marking may occur if the pile is melted, which can be caused by something as innocuous as a particularly hot radiator.


This velvet chair with creases... was smoothed out by steam ironing.

Free Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide

Get more from your contract furniture by caring for it properly. Download our Furniture Care & Maintenance Guide to learn how to make your furniture last longer in a hospitality space.

Topics: Furniture care, Contract upholstery,

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 07/05/18 11:30
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