Ideas + Advice


Guide to Velvet Furniture & Decor

Tips and tricks for understanding and caring for velvet furniture and decor.

What is velvet furniture?

Velvet is a type of material with a plush, soft texture. The softness of velvet is a result of a special loom technique in which two types of fibers are woven together and then cut apart, creating a pile effect. Typically, velvet is made from a synthetic material such as polyester.

Suede vs. Velvet

Velvet is fabric, made up of fibers – often a synthetic material. Suede, on the other hand, is leather – a hide. The reason why they feel the same, though, is because suede uses only the underside of leather (not the leather exterior or surface, which feels thicker and tougher and is often the kind used in leather sofas). As opposed to the exterior of leather, the underside is smooth, thin and feels like fine, silky hairs. (Napped suede means a type of leather in which the hairs of the leather are not removed, for a softer finish.) The fine-tuning of synthetic suede over the years has resulted in an almost indistinguishable feel from the actual material.
‘Suede’ and ‘velvet’ connote the same kind of feel – a type of super soft, luxurious material often found in furniture and winter clothing. However, they’re intrinsically different.

What is the difference between velvet and velour?

Velour is a type of material with a similar feel to velvet, and is often confused for velvet. The main difference between the two is that velvet typically has a higher pile, while velour often has a denser feel.

How do you care for velvet furniture?

There’s no doubt that velvet furniture offers a luxurious feel – but part of maintaining that luxury lies in knowing how to properly care for it.

  1. Check the cleaning care codes on your velvet furniture piece. The last thing you want is to damage your furniture or worsen any stains.

  2. Spot test an area first. Mild dish soap mixed with water is usually the best bet for treating stains on velvet, but if you are still unsure about whether your cleaning solution will work even after checking the care codes, test a small spot in a covered area before treating.

  3. Dry, vacuum and brush. Once you’ve blotted the stain or spill from your velvet furniture piece, use a dry towel to absorb any remaining solution, and go over the area with a vacuum for a deep clean. Finally, gently brush down the fibers with a soft bristle brush to help maintain velvet’s natural sheen.

Crushed Velvet Despite its name, crushed velvet isn’t velvet that’s literally been “crushed” – though it does affirm a “crushed” look. The way this type is made is through twisting the fibers in different directions during the production of the material. The end result is a velvet that looks as though parts of it are ‘standing up’ and other parts are ‘lying flat.’

The Four Types of Velvet You Should Know

Whether you’re interested in velvet for fashion, decorating or arts-and-crafts purposes, it’s always helpful to brush up on your vocab!

Velour Typically made from cotton, velour is a dense velvet often found in clothing for its comfort and versatility.
Silk Velvet Velvet can be made from most materials, and there are a whole host of subcategories of velvet based just on those materials alone. Here, we’re singling out silk velvet in particular – not only is it considered the crème de la crème of velvets, it’s also the softest-feeling type of velvet out there.
Velveteen Velveteen is a type of velvet (so it’s a woven, short-cut pile) that is at maximum three millimeters deep. In sheet form, it’s not as “flowy” as velvet, but still offers the same loveable “furry” softness.

So . . . How Does Velvet Furniture Hold Up?

Velvet furniture can be beautiful, comfortable, luxurious and exciting – all at once. But none of those qualities will matter if it can’t stand the test of time! Here’s what you need to know about velvet quality and how it holds up in furniture.

Velvet is a practical material – especially of the ‘short pile’ variety. The higher the pile, the higher the weaves or loops – and the more likely it is to catch, pull, and/or unravel. A higher pile velvet also mean more of a risk of dirt and dust settling in. (Think of velvet furniture as you would a higher pile shag rug – it may look and feel softer and cozier, but are you willing to risk the lessened durability?)

It’s still highly durable. Remember, when we say some types of velvet might not be as durable as others – all types are still highly durable when compared to non-velvet fabrics. Still, when shopping for velvet pieces, it’s important to check the backing fabric; velvet upholstery is only as durable as the materials upon which it is built. In a pillow, for example, maneuver the fabric so that it “crunches” up or bends; if you can see the backing just by doing that, then you know you have a lesser quality piece. (If you are working with a piece that can’t “bend,” like a sofa, see if you can part the velvet fibers with your fingers. If you can easily part them, and can while doing so can see the backing fabric – that’s another sign of a poorly built design.)

Hot tip! If you are browsing in a store, check an item’s tag for the ‘rub rating.’ This is a rating of durability, and measures how many times a fabric can be double-rubbed (i.e., rubbed up once and down once) before it starts to show wear. This is a helpful rating to know if you are using the piece in a living room, where it’s bound to see a lot of daily use. (Don’t see the ‘rub rating’ anywhere? It can’t hurt to contact the manufacturer – or ask a store salesperson.)

The short answer: Velvet wins the durability test.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.