#upholsteryrepair PHOENIX, AZ

Auto Upholstery Fabrics


When it comes to auto upholstery, one of the most important considerations for any repairs or custom interiors is the material used. At Apex, it’s important to us that you are completely satisfied with your interior projects finished product. Understanding your material options for upholstery is a critical first step in ensuring you fall in love with your interior. Here are the most common materials used in modern automotive interiors.

Nylon Car Upholstery

Fabric car upholstery is a common car interior due to its lower cost and material availability. Nylon is the most common material for a fabric auto interior due to its durability, porous properties, color and pattern availability. Nylon fabric is weaved making it harder to tear or puncture over other fabrics. It is stain resistant, provided you wash spills before they dry, and should be cleaned with a combination of mild detergent and hot water.

While nylon is the least expensive auto upholstery option on the market, there are a few drawbacks. Cloth interiors are more susceptible to stains and are not as durable as their leather and vinyl counterparts. A vehicle with a cloth fabric upholstery is harder to sell on the used car market which impacts the residual value of your investment.

Polyester Car Upholstery

Polyester is the most commonly used in auto upholstery applications as microsuede. As a soft fabric that mimics the texture and feel of suede leather, polyester is a very comfortable material for car interiors. The major drawback of microsuede polyester is its difficulty to clean. Not only is it a porous material, but it’s also prone to stains and dirt due to its texture. The best way to clean a microsuede fabric is to use a wrung-out damp cloth and a cleaning detergent that is made specifically for microsuede. Be careful not to get the suede too wet as it is susceptible to water stains.

Another common form of polyester used in car upholstery is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE–also known as Teflon. Teflon Polyester is good for auto interior applications due to its strength. There is also a UV-resistant style of PTFE that is good for sun-soaked interiors. Resistant to cleaning chemicals, mildew and mold, PTFE is a common alternative to Nylon. Several automotive manufacturers combine polyester with nylon to meld the best qualities of each for a perfect combination of strength and cost effectiveness.

Vinyl Car Upholstery

Vinyl, another common auto upholstery material, is a non-porous and waterproof material which unlike its fabric counterparts, can be wiped clean with a damp towel. In most cases, the only time you need to use a vinyl specific cleaner is for stubborn stains or residue. Most vinyl materials used in car upholstery is designed to take on the characteristics of leather or suede which gives it the appearance of leather with the hard-wearing durability of vinyl. It has similar properties to PVC but is available in a soft, firm, pliable, or hard finish.

There is also a faux vinyl which is a mock vinyl material developed to emulate real vinyl at a fraction of the cost. Vinyl is not fabric, it is a type of plastic made from natural gas, petroleum, and salt. It is more durable that fabric as it’s not as difficult to tear and can stand up against alcohol, spills, and some oils. Vinyl upholstery will retain its form until 150 degrees F. It is available in a variety of colors and can even be manufactured to be transparent.

Faux Leather Car Upholstery

If you’re looking for a car upholstery that looks like leather but don’t have the budget for real leather, Faux leather is a great option. Similar to vinyl, faux leather requires minimal effort to clean and is waterproof. It is a versatile material which can be manufactured to look like almost anything. There are some wild faux leather patterns available, like fake crocodile skin, fake snake skin and even a dinosaur print. Faux leather doesn’t stain easily and is very durable, it behaves like leather and can be easily wiped clean.

To clean faux leather, use a duster to remove loose dirt and dust, and then follow-up with a vacuum. After you’ve removed the loose dirt, mix a detergent with water, dip a clean cloth into the mixture and wring out the water. Wipe down the faux leather surface and immediately follow up with another damp cloth to wipe off the detergent. Finally use a dry cloth to remove the water.

Leather Car Upholstery

Leather is the most coveted car upholstery material available on the market. It offers a rich, plush finish that has a premium appearance and exotic style. Leather can be colored and is available in a variety of patterns which can be firm or soft depending on personal choice. While leather isn’t technically a fabric, it is a standard material for auto interiors in high-end sedans, sports cars, and SUVs. It is treated through a tanning processed combined with chromium salts which soften the material. Leather can is sourced from calfskin, kiwi, ostrich, or buffalo. There are also synthetic leathers available for those who are looking for an alternative while retaining the visual athletics of the real thing.

Leather must get cleaned with care and the proper products. We highly advise against trying to skimp on the cleaning materials when you clean your leather interior. Using a cleaning agent that is not intended to get used on leather could strip the leather of its natural oils causing it to dry and crack. The proper way to clean leather is to remove any lingering dust or oils that are present on the leather surface. Next, ensure the surface is completely dry, then use a clean cloth to apply a leather upholstery conditioner. Use liberal amounts of the conditioner and be sure not to leave clumps in one area. Use the cleaner as evenly as you can and rub it on the leather, so it absorbs the oils. Once finished, place your vehicle in a shady area overnight to keep it away from UV light exposure.

PVC Car Upholstery

PVC is another common material used for car upholstery. It is a soft plastic vinyl style material which is pliable and easy to form around interior objects. Commonly used in lower-end models of cars, trucks, van’s, and SUV’s, it is available in black and white and can be colored to match just about any color. It stretches well but is notorious for being sticky and hot to sit on in hot weather. Heat has the tendency to make PVC upholstery sweat which is very uncomfortable for the driver. If you have a vehicle with PVC in Arizona, we advise against wearing shorts!

PCV is plastic and can be cleaned the same way as vinyl interiors. It can hold up to a variety of cleaners, but we recommend using a standard upholstery cleaner. The one benefit of PVC over a cloth interior is you can easily wipe off spills to prevent stains.

Wool Car Upholstery

Wool was a standard fabric used in older vehicle upholstery. Most cars manufactured between 1920 and the early 1950’s used wool which is woven into a patterned cloth. It was commonly spun into a plain broadcloth or Bedford cord and used on seat upholstery. There are still some specialty manufacturers who produce wool fabric as well as replica materials that are more durable and comfortable. If you’re looking for a custom interior on an older vehicle, our upholstery technicians can re-create your traditional look in either a replica or original wool material.