Choosing Fabric for your Upholstery Project – Part Two: KIDS!

What kind of fabric should I look for if I have young kids?

I have three kids, so I am fully aware of their destruction potential (more on that later), however…I am rarely asked this question. Know why? Because parents of young kids know that no fabric can stand up to the daily abuse of a young child.

Parents of young kids are just not likely to spend money on upholstering a large sofa. To do so would be throwing money out the window (better to wait, ohhh, say twenty years, ;)). But dining seats? Oh, I get those all the time! Here are my top picks for families with young kids.


Vinyl, or bonded leather is a popular choice for dining seats, with good reason. If you want white, or very light dining chairs, vinyl is going to last much longer than fabric. If you love the look of fabric, but want durability, consider upholstering just the outside back of your dining chair in a great fabric – it’s the only part of the chair you really see anyway!

Oilcloth/Laminated Fabric

Fabric, laminated with plastic, makes a great option for dining chairs. It’s thinner than vinyl, so it may not be as durable, but it does come in a variety of fun patterns.


Spaghetti sauce coloured swirls and dots? That’ll work. Choose a tightly woven jacquard, not a flimsy cotton print! I know how stylish chevron patterns are…but cotton prints are not going to last! A jacquard fabric has the design woven into it, as opposed to printed on. Check the back…if it’s white, it’s a print.

Polyester Prints

If you like the idea of changing out your dining seats to suit the season, then 100% polyester prints are inexpensive, and tend to repel stains and wick moisture. These fabrics do, however, have a tendency to run when stapled, so they require some patience to work with.**For this reason, I do not recommend these fabrics for bigger upholstery projects.


Microfibre, being 100% synthetic, is great at repelling stains (I’ve been able to remove ballpoint pen!) and wicking moisture.

Here’s the caveat: My own kids have ultimately destroyed my microfibre chaise. Without a pattern to distract the eye from grime, it calls out like a beacon from across the room – and when company comes, I have resorted to tossing a blanket over it.



When it comes to upholstering larger items like sofas and chairs, chenille fabrics are what I recommend. They are durable (some more than others), and they have a pile, which tends to hide dirt better than other fabrics.

I also recommend:

* Scotchguard. Spray on Teflon works to repel stains from most fabrics.

* Slipcovers. Anything that can be bleached and thrown into the washing machine is popular with moms.

* Plastic. If all else fails on your dining chairs, use plastic for a few years. It’ll go well with the Little Tikes jungle gym you have set up in your dining room. :)