Advice re: Lee fabric choice & 'green' fabric

msmithesqJanuary 18, 2009

After much research, I have decided to purchase a Lee Industries sofa and 2 chairs. I was looking for eco-friendly furniture and I am going to upgrade to the "Spring Fiber" package.

Here's my dilemna: Given the eco-friendly nature of the composition of my furniture, I would like to find a fabric for the sofa (will be upholstered, no slipcovers) that will not off-gas but will perform well in a high traffic area with children and a cat.

I like the look and performance of the ultra suede but it is 100% polyester. What is your feeling about the toxicity of polyester?

I have considered Sunbrella, which has a Green Guard certification now, but my retailer had very few fabric options and they were not so great.

I was thinking of doing the chairs in a 100% cotton washable slipcover and not treating the frabic. Is it a mistake not to treat the fabric?

Is there a "green" performance fabric out there? Is Sunbrella the only option?

Thank you in advance for your advice. I have learned a great deal from this forum and appreciate your help!


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Some people have ecological objections to polyester because it is a non-renewable resource. I don't think it's toxic to most people. But many chemically sensitive people have problems with polyester - both touching it and breathing in the vicinity of it.

How much time are you willing to spend washing the slipcovers? Are you considering a light colored solid color or a more medium toned print - that will hide some dirt/stains? These are factors to consider if you're looking at cotton.

I'm looking at upholstery myself right now. I'll most likely go with leather for two reasons. It's more durable and long-lasting than most fabrics. It also is impermeable to dust. My allergies tend to act up around older upholstered pieces, because dust accumulates inside the cushions.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 12:17AM
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My concern about polyester is the off-gassing, the new furniture smell, that essentially is the chemicals releasing from the material. I know that the actual heath effects of this is somewhat controversial and I'm not totally convinced myself but I'd prefer to find a fabric that has minimal off-gassing. Polyester is notorious for off-gassing.

That's why I was hoping to find a fabric that would clean easily with children and pets but that would have some kind of "green" certification. That was how I discovered Sunbrella which is acrylic (so synthetic) and incredibly durable but does not impact indoor air quality like other materials.

Does anyone know why Lee's Sunbrella options are so limited?

The cotton is brown and beige so I think it will hide dirt.

I can't do leather because my cat is not declawed. :)

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 3:42PM
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Could you provide your own fabric if Sunbrella does have options not offered by Lee?

As for treating the fabric, I went with a treated cotton/poly blend for a loveseat. My toddler was sick on it and I still had to get a professional in to clean the sofa. You can still see the stain. Those stain repellent treatments are probably just as bad for us as off-gassing polyester.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 1:46AM
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