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All You Need to Know About Performance Fabric

Castlery|Mar 20, 2024

When it comes to selecting furniture for your home, there are various factors to consider: style, comfort, durability, and maintenance. One aspect that plays a significant role in achieving these goals is the choice of upholstery fabric.

In recent years, performance fabric has gained substantial popularity for its exceptional stain-resistance qualities.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of performance fabric, exploring its benefits and how it can elevate your furniture to new heights of style and longevity.

What is performance fabric?

Performance fabric refers to a type of textile (or any fabric with the performance finish applied) that has been engineered and treated to possess enhanced qualities, such as durability and stain resistance. This makes them excellent for busy households with children and pets.

This type of fabric is specifically designed to withstand the demands of everyday life and maintain its aesthetic appeal over time. Performance fabrics are commonly used for upholstery, including furniture like sofas and armchairs.

The unique characteristics of performance fabric are achieved through advanced manufacturing techniques and treatment processes. These fabrics undergo processes that make them more resilient and better equipped to handle the challenges of modern living.

Types of performance fabric

Performance fabrics can be made from various materials, including synthetic fibres like nylon and polyester, as well as other specialised blends. These materials contribute to the unique qualities of the fabric, such as durability, stain resistance, and more.


Polyester is a widely used synthetic fibre in performance fabrics. It's known for its strength, resilience, and resistance to wrinkles and shrinking. Polyester fabrics can be treated to provide stain resistance and moisture repellency, making them easy to clean and maintain. They also often have good colour retention, making them less prone to fading.


Nylon is a strong and durable synthetic fibre that is also often used in performance fabrics. It has excellent abrasion resistance, making it a popular choice for high-traffic areas. Nylon fabrics are known for their softness, smooth texture, and ability to hold colour well, making them fade-resistant. These fabrics can offer water and stain resistance, making them suitable for upholstery and outdoor use.


Olefin, also known as polypropylene, is a synthetic fibre that is naturally moisture-resistant and often used in outdoor performance fabrics. Olefin fabrics are resistant to fading, staining, and mildew, making them suitable for outdoor furniture and cushions. These fabrics have a smooth texture and are often used in outdoor rugs, umbrellas, and patio furniture.


Acrylic is another synthetic fibre commonly used in performance fabrics like Sunbrella. It's known for its softness and resistance to UV rays and water. Acrylic fabrics are often used for outdoor cushions, awnings, and umbrellas due to their fade resistance and durability.


Many performance fabrics are made from blends of different synthetic fibres to achieve a balance of various qualities. For example, a blend of nylon and polyester could offer the durability of nylon with the wrinkle resistance of polyester.

Blends can be engineered to provide specific performance features, such as stain resistance, moisture wicking, or enhanced comfort.

Benefits of performance fabric

Performance fabric is designed to withstand the rigours of daily life while maintaining an impeccable appearance. Here are some of the key benefits that make performance fabric an ideal choice for furniture upholstery:


Durability is a fundamental characteristic of performance fabric. Performance fabrics are often woven using advanced techniques that result in tightly knit fibres to enhance the fabric's strength and resistance to abrasion.

Furthermore, performance fabrics are typically made using high-quality synthetic fibres and blends that are chosen for their strength and resilience.

Hence, they are exceptionally durable and can resist wear and tear even in high-traffic areas.

Spill and stain resistance

One of the standout features of performance fabric is its ability to resist spills and hence, stains. The performance finish is applied to the fabric at high heat to create a protective barrier, repelling liquids and preventing them from being absorbed into the fabric fibres.

This helps to minimise the risk of stains caused by spills and makes it easier to clean up accidents without leaving lasting marks.

A performance fabric sofa, glass coffee table, and wooden sideboard in a living room.

The Lucas Performance Boucle Sofa is spill and stain resistant. Picture credits: @edwardleefilms

When a spill happens on performance fabric, the liquid tends to bead up on the surface rather than being absorbed. This gives you a window of time to quickly wipe away the spill before it can seep into the fabric and cause a stain. It's important to address spills promptly, even on spill-resistant fabrics, to ensure the best chance of preventing any potential staining.

Easy maintenance

With performance fabric, maintaining the pristine look of your furniture becomes a breeze. As it is spill and stain resistant, most stains can be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution. Harsh chemicals, specialised cleaning products, and professional cleaning are often not necessary.

A performance fabric sofa with curved backrest.

@dreamingofdecor creates a beautiful contrast with a brown checkered mat and the Odette Performance Bouclé Sofa.

While performance fabric is low-maintenance, regular care like vacuuming or brushing off loose dirt and debris can help keep your furniture looking its best.

Fade resistance

Performance fabric is designed to resist fading from exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors when compared to traditional fabrics like cotton. This ensures that your furniture retains its vibrant colors and fresh appearance over time.

It's important to note that while performance fabric is fade-resistant, prolonged and intense exposure to direct sunlight can still have some effect on its color over a very long period.

Kid and pet-friendly

For busy households with children and furry companions, performance fabric can be a lifesaver. It can withstand the demands and potential challenges that come with active family life like scratches, accidental spills, and pet hair accumulation.

A dog lying down on a performance bouclé swivel armchair

@athomeontheboulevard’s furry pal lying on the Amber Bouclé Swivel Chair.

Allergen resistance

Many performance fabrics are treated in ways that make them hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites. As performance fabrics are often woven with tight fibres, this makes it more difficult for allergens to become trapped within the fabric, making them an excellent choice for individuals with allergies or sensitivities.

Here at Castlery, we’ve even done tests to ensure that the fabric is PFOA-free (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) so you can lounge worry-free.

What to look for in performance fabric

Durability and quality

When looking for performance fabric furniture, durability and quality are foundational factors because they determine how well the furniture will hold up over time. High-quality construction and materials ensure that the furniture can withstand everyday use and maintain its appearance.

Type of performance fabric

As listed above, there are 4 main types of performance fabrics used in the making of such furniture. However, do also keep in mind that any fabric with a performance coating is also considered performance fabric.

This is why choosing a specific type of performance fabric can impact its performance characteristics. Different fabrics excel in different areas, such as stain resistance, fade resistance, or moisture repellency.

Maintenance and cleaning

The ease of maintenance and cleaning directly affects your daily experience with the furniture. Performance fabric furniture is valued for its low-maintenance qualities, but understanding the care requirements is essential to keeping it looking its best.


It’s important to ensure that the furniture you’re buying fits into your existing interior decor and suits your personal preference. Fortunately, many retailers offer performance fabric that comes in various colours and patterns, providing more options to choose from.

Should you get performance fabric furniture?

Performance fabric has revolutionised the furniture industry by combining style, durability, and easy maintenance into one remarkable package.

So, should you get performance fabric furniture?

Ultimately, the decision to get performance fabric furniture depends on how well it aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and needs.

But, with the myriad benefits performance fabric offers, it’s clear that this fabric is here to stay and is worth the investment. Whether you have a bustling household, playful pets, or simply value furniture that stands the test of time, performance fabric is definitely a game-changer.


How long can the performance finish last?

Typically, performance fabric can last from 1 to 3 years but this is highly dependent on the fabric, usage, and maintenance of the furniture.

How do I prolong the life of the performance fabric?

The best way to ensure your performance fabric furniture withstands the test of time is to follow care instructions and avoid any direct heat or use of chemicals on the fabric. For a more in-depth guide, check out how to care for performance fabric.

What does performance fabric feel like?

Performance fabrics are often designed to have a smooth and soft texture, as well as a pleasant hand feel, ensuring that they're comfortable to sit or lie on. Depending on the type of performance fabric, some are even designed to be cool to the touch, making them comfortable in warm climates.

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