How to Protect Upholstery From Fading

An artfully and tastefully decorated room can be expected to serve its owners for years.

Well-made furniture and rugs are easy to care for. However, the one factor that can cause a room to show its age is faded upholstery. Because fading is not a factor usually taken into consideration until it’s already beginning to happen, a perfectly good chair or sofa may have to be reupholstered or replaced. However, there are steps that can be taken from the beginning to avoid such a costly and time-consuming step.

Make wise choices about the fabric. Some fabrics are more prone to fading than others. For natural fabrics, consider cotton and wool, along with wool blends. Fabrics blended with acrylic, polyester and nylon are generally less likely to fade.

Consider the “fade-ability” factor of the colors you are choosing. Dark colors will fade more rapidly than lighter ones. It may be worthwhile to design your room so that the pieces with lighter-colored upholstery receive more sunlight than the darker pieces.

Design a room in a way that furniture can be easily and effectively rearranged. For example, if a sofa sits directly across from two chairs, you will probably be able to turn the arrangement around, giving the furniture an alternate “dose” of sunlight from time to time. Also consider exchanging pillows and cushions on the sofa so that the same ones are not always nearest to the window.

Buy furniture that can serve a dual purpose by working in two different rooms. For example, you might consider buying two identical or similar wing chairs--one for the bedroom and the other for the living room. Exchange them every month or so.

Look for window treatments such as shades, drapes and blinds that will help shield the furniture from the sun while also adding a complimentary decorative touch to your room. Consider the use of awnings outside your home. You might want to look into some of the new transparent window coverings, and if you are planning to actually replace your windows, there are some interesting new options available that will almost entirely eliminate the fading problem.


  • If you’re not in a hurry to redecorate, bring home a swatch of upholstery fabric, and watch how it does when it’s placed in a sunny window for a month.


  • Be realistic about your expectations of any warranty on a piece of furniture. Fading probably is not covered.

About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.