Sofa Materials - Fabric Vs Leather Sofas

Updated 2/3/23

Upholstered Julian Sofa with Coordinating Chairs

When selecting the best materials for your sofa, it is essential to consider each material's attributes and how they fit your 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 type has unique characteristics, from stain and fade resistance to fabric strength and style. A sofa's fabric will affect how it wears over time. Researching and understanding the different options can help you find 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 an elegant material, it is best used only in low-traffic or adult-only areas due to wrinkling and staining. 

2. Wool: Wool is excellent at resisting stains, wrinkling, fading, and pilling. Wool can also be blended with synthetic fiber to offer 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 needs professional cleaning if dirty.

4. Cotton: Cotton is perfect for withstanding wear, fading, and pilling. It is not, however, as resistant to soiling and wrinkling. Cotton can increase its durability and make a great family-friendly fabric if blended with other fibers. 

5. Leather: This material is known as one of the most durable and sophisticated materials. 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 fiber is a manufactured product that imitates natural fibers with an overall stain-resistant quality. Synthetic fibers include:

1. Polyester: Polyester is typically blended with other fibers 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. Olefin is a perfect material for furniture expected to receive heavy use

5. Vinyl: Vinyl is a good alternative to leather, offering a cheaper price tag with comparable toughness.

How to Choose the Best Material for Your Sofa

As important as looks are when buying a new sofa, you should first consider your current lifestyle and household to help you determine whether leather or 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 two and four-legged babies—can be harsh on furniture, and it is essential 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, watch TV, or 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. When deciding on a sofa you will keep for years, you want to make the right choice.

Types Of Sofa Materials

Do allergies concern you or your family? Choosing a sofa that's easy to clean and won't collect allergens as easily is essential 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.

What is the Best Sofa Material, Leather or Fabric?

When redecorating your living room, you'll have many choices: glass vs. wood tables, blinds vs. curtains, and loveseats vs. armchairs. But when considering sofa materials, the biggest debate is always fabric vs. leather. No matter your preference, both of these sofa materials have pros and cons — But which one will be worth it?

Why Choose 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 a unique extension of your personal style.

Price: Fabric sofas are generally less expensive than leather ones. So you can create the perfect ambience 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 challenging to get them out of fabric once they're there.

Durability: The durability of your sofa material may be of concern in households with young children and pets, because most fabric is from either cotton or a mixture of cotton and polyester.

Yet, 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 materials for sofas, check out this article on the different types of sofa fabrics.

Why Choose 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 of 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 introduces elegance and luxury into any home, even without the mansion! If the leather is genuine, your new sofa can feel as marvelous to sit on as it is beautiful.

Durability: Moreover, leather is a highly durable material that can last over a decade if you take proper care of it.

Leather 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 with leather may vary if your house is kept at above or below-average temperatures, as the leather may reflect that temperature on you. 

Best Sofa Materials for Pet Owners


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:

Easy-Clean Leather Upholstery

Animal lovers rejoice! Leather sofas are here to ease your pet stain and shedding woes. Leather sofas are incredibly durable and only look better with age. Leather is also pretty odor-resistant; cloth can easily wipe up most stains and spills. 

Leather can easily show scratches, but you can usually buff them out. If you have a cat, just keep a few scratching posts nearby. Or look for a sofa made from distressed leather that won't show scratches as easily.

Durable Synthetic Fabrics

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 with a pet hair attachment!

Fun Patterned Fabrics

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


Finding the right fit for your home may be overwhelming with so many choices. 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 that looks great in your space and lasts for years. Shop online or come in-store to meet with a Bassett Design Consultant who can help you decide what's right for you.