Vinyl upholstery is extremely common and is found in a lot of places and applications. If you’re looking for something that’s durable and can come in a variety of different colours and styles, then this type of fabric material may be exactly what you need.
Vinyl is similar to plastic. However, instead of resins, it's derived from crude oil or ethylene. So it's a synthetic material used for many purposes including clothing, military tents, sports clothing, commercial tents, upholstery, and more.
The discovery of vinyl and its use dates back to the 1920s. Surprisingly, the material was discovered by accident! A scientist named Dr. Waldo Semon was experimenting with making a solution that would be metal and rubber. He was using discarded materials and mixing them with chemicals, and heating them. In one of the experiments, polyvinyl chloride was developed, which is the other name for vinyl or PVC as we know it today.
Dr. Waldo experimented with PVC to create things like shoe heels, golf balls, and shock absorbers. By the 1930s, it made its way into the commercial world and became a successful material because it was an excellent substitute for rubber. But how is it made today?
How is Vinyl Upholstery Made?
Vinyl is manufactured using chlorine and ethylene. When these two elements are processed together, polyvinyl chloride is produced. Two primary substances are used; oil and salt, and the process is called cracking. It uses pressure and high temperature to break down petroleum oil. It gives out propylene, ethylene, and many other by-products during the process.
The goal is to separate the ethylene. So during cracking, it keeps giving out the by-products until ethylene is the last by-product. The final step for obtaining is compounding, i.e., mixing vinyl resin with other materials. So it varies, and the consistency will depend on how the different materials are mixed.
The process seems confusing. But over the years, manufactures have perfected the process and have produced a wide range of vinyl selection options. So whether it's for upholstery, marine vinyl, or even automotive vinyl, you can get some of the best vinyl options in the market today.
When it comes to upholstery, vinyl is undoubtedly one of the best fabrics. It has many fantastic characteristic features that make it an ideal choice for many different applications. Here are some of the key characteristics of vinyl upholstery:
• More durable compared to other materials, so it lasts longer.
• Versatile and applicable in many areas of manufacturing industries.
• Resistant to flames so a safe material for indoor uses.
• Resistant to moisture and water.
• Easy to clean and maintain.
All these features make vinyl one of the most preferred choices for furniture upholstery. One of the most significant reasons vinyl upholstery is preferred is that it's an excellent substitute for traditional leather. Leather does not come cheap, but it's also the finest material for furniture and other upholstery work. But vinyl comes at a more affordable price and aesthetically has a natural leather-like appearance, so it can be used as faux leather. So by saving costs, you get some fantastic upholstery work done on your furniture.
Vinyl also has a wide selection when it comes to design, textures, and patterns. A wide array of different designed and textures can simply be printed and mass produced for various applications. Although it does not beat leather in durability, it still lasts longer than most other upholstery fabric. So it makes sense why people choose vinyl given how cost-effective it is and how it can still make furniture look elegant. The easy maintenance and cleaning also make it perfect, especially when you use professional cleaning services.
But despite some of the fantastic characteristics, vinyl also has its drawbacks. So it's essential to know about them before you decide on anything. Although vinyl is durable, it’s not easy to repair once it has wear and tear. It happens mostly with cheap and poorly manufactured vinyl though, so paying more can still get you a very long-lasting piece of furniture.
The quality of the vinyl also matters a lot. Due to mass production, there are many inferior quality types of vinyl in the market today. If you purchase poor-quality vinyl, it will not be soft and almost feel hard like plastic. So it would be best if you were careful while buying vinyl for upholstery. Always go for the higher quality grades and you will find you have it for much longer.
The use of vinyl for upholstery is diverse. You can use it on furniture at home, and it also applies to beds and furniture in different commercial environments like hospitals, restaurants, offices, etc.
You can find it on things like the seat covers of automobiles, aircraft, ships, yachts, caravans, planes, and even the trimmings and on door and wall panels. It’s very popular in commercial environments such as pubs and clubs because it can handle a lot of exposure to food and drink. Because of this, you will find vinyl upholstered onto stools, lounges, benches, sofas, bed heads, couches, chairs, and more!
The use of vinyl for upholstery also depends a lot on the grading. Different vinyl grading types work for specific things. You can find different types of grading, such as non-expandable vinyl, commercial vinyl, marine vinyl, and so on.
Either way, it can be a fantastic material and also incredibly durable, so it’s great in a wide range of different settings and a decent quality will be able to handle typical everyday usage.