Horse Hair in Furniture: A Brief History

Horsehair is a unique material with a long history of use, particularly in furniture. It’s been used to stuff mattresses, cover furniture, and even weave chair seats since at least the 16th century. But when did horse hair stop being used in the furniture?

Let’s take a look into the history of this unique material and find out.

What Is Horse Hair?

Horsehair is a special type of fiber that is sourced from the manes and tails of horses. It is made up of two different types of hairs – coarse outer hairs and fine inner hairs – that together create an incredibly strong yet flexible fiber.

Why is My Horse Losing Hair?

Horsehair was first recognized for its strength during the 16th century when it began to be used as a weaving material for chairs and other furniture pieces. This was because it could be woven more tightly than most other fibers, making it ideal for creating sturdy items that would last for years.

The natural material is strong and durable, making it an ideal choice for upholstery. Horsehair also comes in a variety of colors and textures, which makes it customizable to fit any design style. It’s no surprise then that it remained popular until the 20th century.

The Decline of Horse Hair in Furniture Upholstery

By the 19th century, horsehair had become widely used in furniture production due to its durability and affordability.

Synthetic materials like rayon were also being developed and were becoming increasingly popular for use in furniture upholstery. This was due to their affordability and availability compared to natural materials like horse hair.

New materials such as steel springs, synthetic fabrics, and foam had become popular alternatives due to their greater comfort levels and resistance to wear and tear.

As a result, horsehair’s popularity began to decline as these newer materials became more widely available. By the late 20th century, horsehair had all but disappeared from furniture production as it was no longer seen as cost-effective or comfortable enough for modern tastes. 

It was pretty much phased out entirely by the 1970s, but it remains an important part of furniture history.

Today, vintage pieces that feature horse hair upholstery can be found in antique shops and online stores, often with a price tag to match their unique history and quality. So even though the material may no longer be used for modern furniture production, its legacy lives on.

Can Horsehair be Reused in Upholstery?

The short answer is yes! Horsehair can be reused in upholstery if it is properly cleaned and stored correctly. The most important factor is ensuring that the material is still in good enough condition to use again.

The first step in reusing horsehair in upholstery is to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the hair during use. This can be done using a vacuum cleaner or by hand-brushing the hair with a soft brush. Once the horsehair has been cleaned, it can then be stored in an airtight container until needed again.

Does Horsehair Scratch

f there are any signs of wear or damage (such as fraying or cracking), then you should avoid using it again as this could lead to further damage down the line.

It is important to also make sure that any new material you use is compatible with the original horsehair – this includes both the type of fabric being used and any dyes/colors that have been applied. This will ensure a seamless transition between your new material and the existing horsehair without having any jarring contrasts between them.

You should also consider whether or not you need additional support when using horsehair – this could include using an additional layer of foam or batting beneath the fabric to add extra padding or support if necessary.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, horse hair has been used for centuries to upholster furniture for its strength and durability as well as its versatility in terms of color and texture options. However, due to the development of synthetic materials like rayon, demand for horse hair declined steadily throughout the 20th century until it was all but phased out entirely by the 1970s.

So while horse hair is no longer largely used in furniture today, its legacy remains as one of the most enduring materials used in upholstery throughout history.