When shopping for a new living room sofa, sectional, armchair or other upholstered furniture, it’s important to consider not just how they look but how they’ll hold up to the wear and tear and everyday life. Factors like durability, stain-resistance, and ease of maintenance will help you decide what type of fabric is best for your furniture. Let’s take a look at the benefits and downsides of several common options.
One of the best options for people with young kids or pets, leather is durable and classic. Cleanup is generally easy—just vacuum or wipe with a damp cloth to clean up messes. For more thorough cleaning, you’ll want to use a leather conditioner or saddle soap to ensure your leather sofa or leather sectional set looks good for years to come. Check out our past blog post on the topic for more information on whether leather is right for you.
Microfiber & Polyester
Another durable and popular choice, microfiber upholstery is easy to keep clean and stands up well to everyday wear. One downside of some microfiber furniture is that it can have a bit of static that attracts pet hair or clothing lint.
Microfiber is made of polyester, and there are other polyester-based upholstery options as well. These include polyester canvas, some faux leathers, tweed, twill and many other strong, textured fabrics. In general, polyester is a durable synthetic fiber that offers many advantages. However, some polyester blends include natural fibers like cotton, which can be more prone to staining, so it’s important to check the sofa label for its exact composition.
Other Synthetic Fibers
Polyester is not the only synthetic fiber used for upholstery fabrics. Other made-made fabrics like olefin, rayon and nylon are often blended with other fibers to improve durability and stain-resistance. In general, synthetic materials are stronger and more practical than their natural fiber counterparts.
Cotton upholstery provides good resistance to wear and fading, but not much resistance to wrinkling and staining. In general, 100% cotton sofas can be a great choice aesthetically, but may not be right for families with children or pets. Cotton canvas and certain cotton blends are more durable choices than softer cotton weaves like chenille.
Linen & Silk
While linen and silk are quite different fabrics, their downsides as upholstery options are similar. Both are best suited for formal, adults-only living areas that are free of pets, since they won’t withstand heavy wear. Both silk and linen furniture must also be professional cleaned if soiled.
Tips for Choosing a Sofa Fabric for Your Home
Now that you’re familiar with the pros and cons of some of the most popular sofa and couch fabrics, here are some additional tips for how to choose the one that’s best for your needs:
- Choose a sofa fabric based on how much use your sofa will get as well as who will be using it. Toddlers, dogs and cats can be particularly rough on upholstery, so it’s best to choose a durable material like leather or microfiber.
- Fabrics with higher thread counts (number of threads per square inch) are denser and therefore more durable. To get the best possible strength and quality out of a fabric like cotton, opt for one that features a high thread count.
- For best results, and to ensure your new sofa or sectional has a long life, we recommend applying a water-repelling upholstery protectant like Scotchgard. This will help create a barrier to reduce the chance that spills will stain your furniture.