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Sofa Materials - Fabric vs Leather Sofas

Updated: 2022-09-20

When selecting the best materials for your sofa, it is important to take into consideration each of the material's attributes and how they fit your personal requirements and lifestyle. In this guide to sofa materials, we'll discuss upholstery types for sofa materials, fabric sofas vs. leather sofas, and the best sofa materials for pets. 

Sofa fabric types and materials

There are several different fabric type options for your sofa. Each different type holds its own unique characteristics, from stain and fade resistance to strength and style. A sofas fabric will affect how it wears over time. Researching and understanding the different options can help you in finding a piece of furniture worth your money!

Sofa materials made from natural fibers

Natural fibers are exactly as they sound: materials naturally sourced from plants and animals. The most common natural fiber materials include:

  1. Linen: While linen is a very elegant type of material, it is best used only in low-traffic areas or adult-only areas due to wrinkling and staining. 
  2. Wool: Wool is great at resisting staining, wrinkling, fading, and pilling. Wool can also be blended with a synthetic fiber to offer even more durability and easy spot cleaning. 
  3. Silk: This is a very delicate and soft material. Due to its fragility, it's best placed in a formal area, and must be professionally cleaned if dirtied. 
  4. Cotton: Cotton is great for withstanding wear, fading, and pilling. It is not, however, as resistant to soiling and wrinkling. If blended with other fibers, cotton can increase its durability and make for a great family-friendly fabric. 
  5. Leather: This material is known as one of the most durable and sophisticated materials out there. It is a favorite for people with kids and pets, as it tends to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life while also being incredibly easy to clean. 

Sofa materials made from synthetic fibers

Synthetic fibers are man-made products meant to imitate natural fibers with an overall stain-resistant quality. Synthetic fibers include:

  1. Polyester: Polyester is typically blended with other fibers in order to create an upholstery resistant to wrinkling, crushing, and fading. 
  2. Nylon: Resistant to staining, this fiber is considered one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. When added to blends, it helps to prevent this fiber from fading, crushing, and pilling. 
  3. Acrylic: Developed as an imitation wool, this synthetic fiber is great at resisting wear, wrinkling, soiling, and fading. 
  4. Olefin: Olefin is resistant to abrasions, stains, sunlight, and chemicals. This is a perfect material for furniture expected to receive heavy use. 
  5. Vinyl: This is a great alternative to leather, offering a cheaper alternative with comparable toughness.

How do you choosing the best materials for your sofa?

As important as looks are when it comes to buying a new sofa, you should first consider your current lifestyle and household to help you determine whether leather vs. fabric sofas are right for your home. Here are some key questions to reflect upon before making a decision:

  • Do you have young children or pets? Having little ones, both 2 and 4-legged babies, can be harsh on furniture and it is important to buy a more durable material to hold up to those inevitable messes.
  • How do you use your current sofa? Maybe you and your family frequently gather in your living room to eat, or you want a comfy spot to lounge and watch tv or possibly take a nap. Factors like this will determine comfort level, maintenance, and durability.
  • What is your personal or home style? Possibly the most focused aspect is interior styling. Making a decision on a sofa that you keep for years to come, you want to be sure you make the right choice.
  • Do allergies concern you or your family? Choosing a sofa that's easy to clean and won't collect certain allergens as easy is important to you and your health.
To help you work through some of those scenarios you will find a chart below that helps highlight the importance of each type of sofa material and how choosing the right one will help make your life a little easier and your sofa way more enjoyable.

Types Of Sofa Materials

What Is The Best Sofa Material, Leather or Fabric?

When redecorating your living room, you'll be faced with many choices: glass vs. wood table, or blinds vs. curtains. When it comes to sofa materials, the biggest debate is always between fabric vs. leather. No matter your preference, both of these sofa materials have pros and cons — But which one will be worth it?

Fabric Sofas

Comfortable and versatile, fabric sofas can sometimes already feel "broken in" when they arrive at your home. 

Fabric Sofa Pros

  • Flexibility: When it comes to furniture, "fabric" is practically synonymous with "options." Want a pink, zebra-print sofa for the living room? You got it! With the versatility of fabric, you can make any ordinary sofa into a unique extension of your personal style.
  • Price: Additionally, fabric sofas can also be less expensive than leather ones. So you can create the perfect persona in your living room without breaking the bank.

Fabric Sofa Cons

  • Stains: You may find that even the cleanest of homes can attract stains, odors, and dust to your furniture, and it can be difficult to get them out of fabric once they're there.
  • Durability: Furthermore, the durability of your sofa material may be of concern in households with young children and pets, as most fabric is made from either cotton or a mixture of both cotton and polyester. 

2676-72FCB-Beckham-WI21.jpgYet, while these are traditional concerns with fabric furniture, technological advances in performance fabrics have greatly improved the quality and durability of fabric sofas. For a more in-depth look at the various types of fabric in sofas, check out this article on the different types of sofa fabrics

Leather Sofas

Think of the fanciest home you've ever seen, and envision the furniture within. What material is it? If you're thinking leather, you're right. Below are the pros and cons to leather sofas. For a more in-depth look at all of the types of leather that goes into leather sofas, you can also check out this guide to leather types

Leather Sofa Pros

  • Natural Elegance:  Leather furniture easily introduces elegance and luxury into any home, even without the mansion! If the leather is real, your new sofa can feel as amazing to sit on as it is beautiful.
  • Durability: Moreover, leather is a highly durable material that can over a decade if properly cared for.

Fabric Sofa Cons

  • Price: But with any leather sofa, there's always a price to pay — literally! Leather sofas tend to come at a higher price than fabric, in addition to the cost of maintaining the leather to prevent aging and maintain durability.
  • Temperature Control: Your comfort on the leather may vary if your house is kept at above or below-average temperatures, as the leather may reflect that temperature on you. 


Best sofas for pets

Sometimes there's nothing like cuddling on your sofa with a furry friend (or two). But if your sofa's fabric isn't up to the challenge, allowing cats and dogs to enjoy it can result in some seriously damaged living room furniture. Below is some information on the best sofa materials for animals:


Animal lovers rejoice! Leather sofas are here to ease all of your pet stain and shedding woes. Leather sofas are extremely durable and only look better with age. Leather is also pretty odor resistant and most stains and spills can be easily wiped off with a cloth. 

Leather can show scratches more easily, but they can usually be buffed out. If you have a cat, just make sure you keep a few scratching posts near by. Or look for a sofa made from already distressed leather. It won't show scratches as easily. 

Synthetic fibers

Synthetic fibers include olefin, acrylic, nylon, polyester and rayon, and are good choices when you need to protect against stains and cuts from your pets. Many synthetic fabrics also hold up well when exposed to sunlight and are easy to clean.



If you want an affordable, easy to clean sofa, that is stylish, go with a synthetic, like the performance suede option at Bassett Furniture. Just be sure to invest in a vacuum that comes with a pet hair attachment!

Patterned fabric

If you're a fan of patterns, you're in luck. Patterned fabric is perfect for hiding pet hair and stains. Just make sure to choose the color palette based on the color of your pet(s). If your pet(s) have dark fur, stick with a pattern that includes darker colors. If your pet(s) has light-colored fur, choose a light pattern like the one featured above. 

Different Materials, One Source

2711-72A-Davis-FA21.jpgWith so many different choices, it may be overwhelming to find the right fit for your home. At Bassett Furniture, we have skilled Design Consultants that can help you create custom furnishing, define your decor, help you to establish a budget, or offer their expert opinion at no cost. 

We are here to supply you with a sofa meant to not only look great in your space but to last as well. Shop online or come in-store to meet with a Bassett Design Consultant who can help you decide what’s right for you.

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