Leather Sofas vs Fabric Sofas. Pros & Cons.


Modern manufacturers produce a wide range of different sofas which can be distinguished by quality, construction, or design. It can be very difficult to make choose a perfect couch. Two most popular sofas are made of leather and fabric. Let’s do the research and find out the pros and cons of both — leather sofas and fabric sofas and you will make your decision.

I have done an impartial comparison of leather and fabric sofas and here is the result:

Are Leather Sofas Worth It?

Leather sofas have been very popular for many years. Leather sofas are a timeless classic that can organically fit both in the living room of the apartment and in the office space. If you get a leather sofa, your house will look stylish, warm and cosy. It is an indicator of status and prestige.

Leather Sofa Pros:

  • Leather sofas are durable. Leather is a natural material that will last up to 15 years, which is twice or even three times longer than fabric sofas last.
  • Leather sofas are not very demanding. You just need to follow four basic rules:
    • Regularly wipe your leather sofa with a damp cloth and treat it several times a year with special compounds.
    • Do not leave the sofa wet for a long time.
    • Protect leather furniture from direct sunlight and radiators. Do not dry with iron and hot air.
    • Do not use solvents, bleaches, stain removers or abrasives to clean the leather. It is better to contact professionals who specialize in cleaning leather furniture.
  • Leather sofas do not electrify when in contact with synthetic fabrics. Unlike synthetic materials and wool, leather does not electrify clothes. You can sit on the leather couch without worrying that the clothes will begin to stick to the body.
  • Leather sofas have pleasant tactile sensations as genuine leather has a soft, elastic surface.
  • Leather sofas are easy to clean and maintain. It will not absorb moisture into the surface. You can simply wipe your with a damp cloth, and there will be no stains or smell left. Leather sofas do not collect dust and pet hair. 
  • Leather sofas are hypoallergenic since leather is a natural material you can be sure that you and your children will not have allergies caused by it. Since leather upholstery does not collect dust and wool, allergens do not accumulate in the house. Therefore, if you are allergic to something or you just like maintaining your house perfectly clean, you should opt for a leather sofa.
  • Leather sofas smell nice. You can also polish your leather couch with some special oils that will add a delicate and pleasant aroma to the sofa.
  • Leather sofas do not absorb liquid as fast as textiles. This means you will be able to wipe off spilt wine in just five seconds without getting your leather sofa stained.  Leather sofas are perfect if you have children since it is so easy to remove stains from it.
  • Leather sofas favourably affect the indoor microclimate. Genuine leather breathes. So it is able to absorb excess moisture or, conversely, give it away when the air in the room becomes dry.
  • Leather sofas bring the element of luxury. A leather sofa made of genuine leather looks beautiful and expensive. Leather furniture demonstrates the status and prestige of his owner and looks amazing in any interior.
  • The leather upholstery is heat resistant.

Leather Sofa Cons:

Even though leather sofas have a lot of advantages, they are not perfect and I want to highlight the main disadvantages of leather sofas.

  • Leather sofas fade in the sun. Leather furniture does not tolerate direct sunlight, sudden changes in temperature and dry air. Leather sofas fade in the sun, they can also peel and come apart because of it. It is very important to put your leather sofa far away from a radiator or a window if it faces the south.
    In addition, manufacturers recommend maintaining indoor humidity in the range of 40-60 per cent.
  • You can’t sleep on leather sofas. It is very uncomfortable to sleep on the leather since it can be cold and stick to your body. But if you still want to use a leather sofa for sleeping, take a look at the mattresses-toppers. They are created specifically for organizing a sleeping place on the couch.
  • Leather sofas can get sticky in summer and cold in winter.
    If your house is not warm enough in winter, it will be very uncomfortable to sit on a leather sofa. The leather sofa will need time to warm up to body temperature. The time required to warm up the leather will depend on its quality — the better the leather, the faster its temperature adapts to body temperature.
    Leather sofas tend to get sticky in summers or when it is very hot. Leather absorbs moisture much more slowly than fabric, that is why the sweat will not be absorbed by the leather which may lead to unpleasant stickiness. You can get rid of this feeling by putting a cover on the sofa or by covering it with a blanket when it is hot.
  • Leather sofas get visible scratches. Pets or clothes with metal elements can ruin a leather sofa. Scratches are less noticeable on fabric sofas. Cats like sharpening claws on a leather covering and dogs like to chew soft leather while playing. So if you decide to get a leather sofa and you have pets, you will need to be extra careful as your four-legged friend can ruin your leather sofa.
  • Leather sofas require special care. If you want the leather to be durable and not to stretch or peel or lose its original shine, it must be treated with special conditioners. Usually, these things cost a lot, but fixing up damaged leather sofa can be even more expensive.
  • Leather sofas can darken. Over time, a leather sofa can darken in places of contact with the body. And although leather hygroscopicity is lower than that of textiles, it still absorbs fat and moisture. Preventive treatment of the sofa with special furniture conditioners and weekly cleaning with a damp cloth will help get rid of dark spots.
    You need to be careful with your clothes, too. Your bad-quality jeans may ruin a leather sofa leaving a stain. Just make sure that you do not sit on your sofa wearing clothes that may leave a stain.
  • Leather sofas are expensive. Genuine leather is expensive. Few textile products can be compared at price to the leather furniture. Leather furniture has always been considered a luxury item. This opinion remains unchanged today. Whether it is worth paying a high price for a leather sofa when you can buy the same from textiles but cheaper is a matter of aesthetic rather than practical nature.

Leather Sofas — The Bottom Line:

Of course, leather sofas have quite a few cons, but as we can see, they have a number of advantages such as style and prestige. If you do not mind paying extra money for classiness and comfort, it is worth buying leather upholstered furniture.

If you give proper care to your leather sofa, it will last for many years to come returning your investment.

Are Fabric Sofas Worth It?

Fabric is a very popular upholstery material. You can choose a fabric sofa from a variety of colours and textures making any design idea come true. The real question is whether fabric sofas are better than leather sofas. That is what we are about to find out.

Fabric Sofas Pros:

  • Fabric sofas have good tactile properties. The fabric surface of the sofa is very pleasant to the touch and it does not feel slippery like leather does.
  • Fabric sofa is a good option for sleeping. The upholstery is highly breathable which allows proper air circulation and ensures a comfortable sleep. If you buy a sofa to sleep on, you should opt for a fabric sofa as sleeping on a leather sofa will not be very comfortable and the bedsheets will be rumpled.
  • Fabric sofas have perfect thermoregulation. The fabric keeps its temperature at a comfortable level regardless of the season or weather outside the window. As you remember, leather sofas are not as good at thermoregulation as leather needs much more time to warm up to body temperature. The time required to warm up the leather will depend on its quality — the better the leather, the faster its temperature adapts to body temperature.
  • Fabric sofas are resistant to mechanical damage. It is much more difficult to damage fabric with a sharp object, especially when compared to leather.
  • Fabric sofas are more affordable. The prices of textile sofas are much lower than products upholstered with faux leather and leather.
    However, some fabrics like jacquard can be very expensive but this is more of an exception than a rule.
  • Fabric sofas are easy to maintain. Most fabrics can be cleaned at home using regular soapy water, a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner. You can always get a cover for your fabric sofa if you want it to serve longer.
  • Fabric sofas feel more like home. Some people think that leather sofas are more suitable for offices while fabric sofas create a cosy atmosphere at home. Of course, it all depends on your tastes and you may consider your leather sofa perfect for creating comfort in your home.

Fabric Sofas Cons:

  • Fabric sofas are not hypoallergenic as they collect dust. This is also not very good for people with allergies as fabric sofas can make you sneeze all the time.
  • Fabric sofas are not as durable as leather sofas. Fabric sofas last approximately 7-10 years while leather sofas last 15-20 years. Fabric upholstery may stretch, fade in the sun and simply look more won off.
  • Fabric sofas are harder to clean compared to
    Care. For the most part, textiles are fairly easy to clean, but there are exceptions, so sometimes dry cleaning is inevitable.

Which Fabric is Best for Sofas?

The choice of the best fabric for your sofa directly depends on how you will use it and what room you want to put your sofa in.

Sofa Fabric for a Living Room

The fabric for the sofa in the living room must be resistant to dirt and mechanical damage. Synthetic fibre fabrics are the best option for a living room as they are easy to clean and do not absorb odours and dirt.

Fabric Sofa for a Bedroom

The fabric of the upholstery sofa for sleeping should provide comfortable rest and sleep. Give preference to natural fabrics or semi-natural for example, flock. It is hypoallergenic, does not lint and keeps its shape.

Fabric Sofa If You Have Pets

You should opt for microfiber, flock, velvet and artificial suede when looking for a sofa if you have pets. It is better to choose a fabric with a pattern as this will hide minor damage and stains. Give preference to a smooth pattern. The fabric should not absorb moisture and odours.

Fabric Options for Sofa Upholstery: Characteristics and Features of Each Fabric

Now let’s dive in different fabrics that can be used for sofas so that you could decide which one is best for you.

Chenille Sofas Pros & Cons

This material is created on the basis of natural cotton and synthetic threads which are twisted in a special way. Chenille is a strong and durable material and it is rather difficult to stretch it. Many properties of the material depend on the base — it can be fabric or adhesive. The adhesive base cannot withstand wet processing, it can deform when wet.

High-quality chenille is environmentally friendly and resistant to wearing off and tearing due to the presence of synthetics. Chenille is easy to clean, too. Chenille sofa can be vacuumed, cleaned with a sponge or medium brush.

The material is not very suitable for people who have pets at home as they can pull out the threads from the sofa ruining it forever.

Some people also say that chenille sofas do not come in many colours — but if you want something classic like black or beige, you will have no problems choosing your chenille sofa.

Flock Sofas Pros & Cons

Flock attracts a lot of attention as it is very soft, velvety to the touch that is why it is sometimes called a substitute for velvet. The fabric is not subject to rapid wearing off, it does not absorb dirt and is easily cleaned. And it also allows air to pass through well which is necessary during the hot season.

Flock looks expensive, it has a rich texture and a large selection of shades — you can always choose something for the interior. Due to its dense structure, flock retains its shape for a long time without stretching.
It is completely safe for health, which makes it a priority in the choice of fabric for the upholstery of the sofa in the children’s room.

The fabric also has disadvantages: flock electrifies and collects dust so it needs to be vacuumed quite often.

Tapestry Sofas Pros & Cons

Tapestry is a natural fabric that is used for classic sofa models. It looks good, is practical and durable. However, for many buyers, tapestry sofas may seem a little old-fashioned as they are not suitable for modern interior styles such as loft, minimalism, hi-tech. And sofas upholstered with this fabric do not tolerate wet cleaning.

Jacquard Sofas Pros & Cons

Jacquard is a dense fabric with a complex weave. But compared to tapestry, jacquard looks more expensive and solid. It also has better performance as jacquard is more durable than tapestry. Jacquard can be found in a variety of shades, patterns. 

It is necessary to clean jacquard carefully as it can fade because of strong detergents. Jacquard has two disadvantages — price and demanding cleaning.

Cotton Sofas Pros & Cons

Cotton is 100% natural material that is rarely used for sofas that will be placed in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. Cotton sofas are best suited for children’s rooms. Cotton is the safest, most environmentally friendly material that breathes well, but is not very durable as cotton sofas last approximately 3-5 years. However, manufacturers additionally process the fabric with protective compounds.

Velour Sofas Pros & Cons

Velour is a very soft and pleasant pile fabric. It can be uniform or made in the form of some kind of pattern. The basis of velour can be cotton or woollen fibres. Since manufacturers use modern technologies for processing the threads, the fabric hardly abrades and velour sofas usually last up to 10 years. Velour is also easily cleaned.

Velour does not tolerate scratches, so if you have pets, it is better to avoid getting a velour sofa for your house.

Microfiber Sofas Pros & Cons

Microfiber is a new generation of upholstery materials. The softness and appearance strongly resemble velvet. Microfiber does not fade in the sun and does not stain from food or drinks.

Microfiber is durable as was tested by the Martindale test and resistant to abrasion, direct sunlight and cleaning with chemicals. Microfiber is a hypoallergenic material that does not retain dust which is perfect for people suffering from allergies. 

However, you should not place your microfiber sofa next to radiators as this will ruin its appearance. Microfiber sometimes can build up static electricity, too. The pile also collects animal hair, so if you have pets, you need to often clean the fabric.

Faux Leather Sofas Pros & Cons

Modern technologies have developed so much that faux leather is now not much worse than genuine leather. Faux leather sofas are used for houses and offices.

Faux leather is very durable and it does not absorb odours and dirt and is easy to clean. Faux leather does not absorb liquids, so if you spill your drink, you can just wipe it with a towel. Faux leather is soft and pleasant to the touch.

Faux leather has a number of disadvantages, too. For example, if your cat scratches faux leather, it will leave a visible scratch that cannot be fixed. Also, it is not recommended to place faux leather sofas close to open sources of flame as this will cause deformation of the fabric. Also, your body may stick to the faux leather as this material does not have good breathability. 

Is a Leather or Fabric Sofa Better? The Bottom Line

The sofa is one of the most common and functional pieces of furniture. Therefore, choosing a sofa should be taken very seriously.

As a rule, when you want to buy a sofa, you will know your requirements for the frame, filler and type of folding mechanism of the sofa. The main problems begin when you start choosing upholstery fabric.

What’s the best upholstery for a sofa? How not to make mistakes when choosing? What are the basic upholstery parameters? First of all, you should pay attention to the strength, performance and appearance of the fabric. There is a generally accepted division of upholstery fabrics into categories. The division into categories is conditional and indicates not so much the quality of the fabric, but rather the performance characteristics — density, lightness and appearance. The higher the density of the fabric, the higher its category and price.

This article has offered you all types of upholsteries for your future sofa and now you just need to decide what is the best option for you. 

Let’s just sum all the information up so that you could make your final decision.

Cotton is a natural, environmentally friendly material that allows air to pass through perfectly. It is an excellent material for upholstering children’s furniture. The disadvantage of cotton fabrics is that cotton sofas are not very durable. They last up to 5-7 years. This is a good investment since cotton sofas are usually pretty inexpensive.

Cotton fabric can be coated with a special protective substance to protect it from chafing, fading and dust.

Jacquard is a dense, durable and beautiful fabric with a complex weave of threads. The density of jacquard depends on the thickness of the threads — the thinner the thread, the lower the density and the price, since in this case, the strength of the fabric is lower. Jacquard always looks festive, does not fade in the sun. The beautiful intricate pattern of this upholstery will look great in an elegant exotic living room.

Tapestry is a very strong fabric with a complex weave of up to 100 threads. Tapestry has the richest patterns and refers to double-sided fabrics, i.e. both sides are suitable for upholstery, which makes this fabric very popular in the furniture industry. The composition of the tapestry can include various natural threads such as cotton and wool. Their content can be from 40 to 100%. The use of synthetic fibres increases the durability of the tapestry and the resistance to dirt.

Flock is strong and durable upholstery fabric. It does not fade in the sun, is very pleasant to the touch and resistant to pets’ claws. Flock is easy to clean, does not cause allergies and is moisture resistant. The disadvantage of the flock is the ability to easily accumulate odours. This upholstery is perfect for a living room or a children’s room but it will not be entirely appropriate for a kitchen.

Chenille is a very beautiful and cosy fabric with a thick pile. The combination of natural and synthetic threads makes this fabric very durable and reliable. This material can be perfectly cleaned with a brush, sponge or vacuum cleaner, and is resistant to mechanical damage. The chenille upholstery will delight you for years to come and give you comfort.

Velour is an ideal material for creating a cosy soft corner. It is pleasant to the touch and does not stretch with time.

Upholstery suede or microfiber is an excellent material for upholstery that is made with the latest technology. The special coating makes the suede a moisture and dust repellent material. The low pile fits nicely with the movement of the hand giving the microfiber the look of natural suede. The practicality of furniture suede is invaluable as it retains its colour for a long time, does not stretch, perfectly breathes, does not cause allergies and does not harm health.

Faux leather is moisture-resistant, wear-resistant and durable. Faux leather is easy to clean and it does not cause allergies and is not harmful to health. The faux leather is pleasant to the touch.

Genuine leather is a very valuable material. The leather is durable and very easy to care for. The leather can be polished to improve its appearance. You should know that polished leather-based on lead, not chromium, is cheaper. You can choose a variety of different colours of leather sofas.

In any case, when choosing upholstery for a sofa, the main thing is your preference. You need to follow your heart and I really hope that my advice will help you to make a right decision and your new sofa will serve you for many years to come and will give you comfort and cosiness.

Kateryna

I am passionate about making my home a better place and I want to share all my knowledge with you.

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