Upholstering Tips

Seating Manufacturers and Upholstery Shops find EnviroLeather™ easy to work with and for the last decade have seen their skilled craftsmanship in creating finished products result in a well-tailored appearance long after installation.

As commercial seating buyers have asked suppliers to transition away from PVC or vinyl, there has been a plethora of low cost polyurethane (PU) based faux leathers that have been brought to market. It is now common knowledge that PU should not be upholstered the same as PVC. The problem is that different PU constructions require even more subtle changes to upholstery technique through trial and error to get best results. In addition, many PU’s do not have good durability and recovery properties.

EnviroLeather™ is different

Virtually every significant commercial seating manufacturer has had experience with EnviroLeather™ over the last decade. Each EnviroLeather™ collection starts with an exclusive urethane-based TPE formulation. This construction addresses the health concerns surrounding PVC and it outperforms traditional PU faux leather.

With hundreds of designs utilizing similar formulation and construction, and many years of wide industry use, a designer is able to have confidence that their seating manufacturer or upholstery shop is able to achieve consistent results every time.

Minimize Sagging

EnviroLeather™ is designed with a unique TPE formulation to give it more elastic and better recovery properties than traditional polyurethanes.

Here are a few other upholstering tips to help minimize sagging or puddling issues:

  1. EnviroLeather™ has more inherent stretch than vinyl, so patterns may need to be adjusted smaller in size to compensate vs vinyl (PVC) coated fabrics. It should also be tested independent of other PVC-free materials for correct pattern size and upholstering. If you cut EnviroLeather™ with the same pattern as PVC, or a different PVC-free material, you may have excess material that will cause sagging or wrinkling of the material on the upholstered piece. Smaller patterns will generate more tension.
  2. Use high quality, high density /resilient (see foam selection section below) foam and ensure stress points, such as tight corners, are well padded.
  3. Consider cutting the foam at least one inch oversize in both directions.
  4. Thick foam applications should have breathing holes to allow for maximum foam recovery
  5. Consider using a bonded Dacron between the material and the foam to give the material some loft and assist the backing fabric to slide freely over the foam. This will assist in recovery when someone sits on it.
  6. EnviroLeather™ has more stretch in the cross-machine direction than the machine direction, so try not to railroad the material
  7. If gluing is part of your upholstering process, spray any adhesive on both the foam chair form as well as the back side of our material. Our substrate has a bit of a nap to it so a thicker layer of adhesive may be advantageous to get deeper penetration than just on the surface.

Avoid Abrasion Issues

EnviroLeather™ has a formulation specifically designed for superior toughness and chemical resistance to hold up to high traffic, heavy duty applications.

However, here are a few upholstering tips to further help avoid abrasion issues:

  1. EnviroLeather™ is thinner and lighter in weight than vinyl. Therefore it will upholster differently around sharp corners or edges.
  2. Tight folding around corners or sharp radii without the cushion of foam, will stress the faux leather, making the top film layer susceptible to tearing, picking and breaking. So ensure stress points are well padded.
  3. Consider using 7-8 stitches per inch using a light ball tip needle. Ideal size is 19 American / 120 European. Thread and pressure should be set up to be as loose as possible.
  4. Ensure that the foot on the sewing machine is not grabbing the material as it passes through. A little Teflon tape on the machine can help if this is a problem.
  5. Consider double stitching key seam areas, but stitching back and forth over the same line could simply cut the top film
  6. Avoid use of welt cord, especially if the welt cord is in an exposed, high abrasion area such as a cushion top. Wrapping a piece of fabric around a hard, plastic tube exposes it to continual rubbing every time someone sits down and gets up. Also, the welt cord creates greater tension on the material. This reduces the flexibility of faux leather and makes it easier to abrade the surface of the material.
  7. Whenever possible, avoid or minimize right angle seams in high abrasion areas. For example, use a waterfall design vs edge seam along the chair cushion bottom

Foam Selection Tips

The ILD or IFD  – Indentation Load/Force Deflection - rating impacts the feel of the foam, and tells you how much weight it takes to compress the foam by one third. The lower ILD/IFD foam will sit softer. The higher ILD/IFD foam will sit firmer.  ILD/IFD numbers range between 15 and 55. Foams suitable for seat cushions are typically rated 35-55 but the thickness of the foam should also be taken into consideration since you can bottom-out more easily on softer/thinner foam. People often confuse foam density (lbs/cubic inch) with firmness but foams of different firmness can have exactly the same densities. There is a correlation with the quality of the foam and the density. High Resilience foam, or HR foam, is open-cell, flexible polyurethane foam that has a less uniform (more random) cell structure that helps add support, comfort, and resilience or bounce. HR foams are considered the highest grade and have densities of 2.5 lbs/cubic foot or greater.

California TB 133

EnviroLeather™ has successfully demonstrated to comply with TB 133 on furniture systems when tested with suitable components. Cal TB 133 is a composite test that evaluates a fully assembled furniture system. There are many variables which affect the result of this test, such as surface area, contour design and component materials such as type of flame blocker and urethane foam used. EnviroLeather™ is only a component, so we cannot say if it passes TB 133 or not. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to choose what components to use and to validate performance for TB 133 on the appropriate assembled furniture system. The same material can pass on one chair and fail on another due to the variations in furniture construction listed above.

Recommendations for EnviroLeather™:

  1. If you require a flame blocker we suggest careful selection of an adhesive when gluing the blocker to the back of EnviroLeather™. If the bond is not strong and the two materials begin to break apart after installation it could lead to wrinkles in the material.
  2. Whenever possible, if a flame blocker is necessary, try to select one that does not contain halogenated flame retardants. While they perform well, they contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to impact human health. Non-halogenated options exist. Your EnviroLeather™ Regional Sales Director can share with you who some of those suppliers are.

RF Welding

RF Welding may be used to create a seam on EnviroLeather™ rather than a traditional sewn seam.

Radio Frequency Welding, also known as RF sealing or dielectric sealing, is when energy is created to weld specific types of thermoplastics. Radio Frequencies excite the molecular structure of the material causing it to heat very rapidly upwards of 200° F. Typical upholstery welding is done on a 4kw machine at 27 mhz. They are welded for 5 seconds at 1000 watts of power. Once heated, an RF die forced into the material by a press determines the final shape and characteristics of the finished sealed product. RF welding is a quick process and does not require any special joint designs, producing cosmetically appealing welds. With this method the heating can be localized, and the process creates a consistent weld. It is used in many industries where a strong, leak-proof seal may be required or where bed bugs pose a concern.

  1. Customers should ideally seal face to face, not face to back.
  2. Use sealing adhesive tape between layers of our material to broaden the processing window and enhance adhesion
    • A contact for sealing tapes is Bemis Associates, Inc. 978-425-6470
    • Three specific tapes to try from Bemis would be, Sew-free 3415, SRT 4000, and SRT 5000

Are there places I should not put the material?

EnviroLeather™ is designed for interior applications so avoid areas that have unfiltered, direct UV exposure.