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The Best Fabric for Your New Sofa Combines Durability, Comfort, and Style

When you’re making the all important investment of a new sofa or settee, you want to be sure your fabric sofa holds up well to wear, is cozy and fits in with your other interior decor. There are many different fabric options available, so the choices might seem overwhelming. Not to worry. 

In this guide, we’re going to discuss natural fabrics, synthetic fabrics, leather and faux leather, and a few other unique fabric swatches to give you an idea of what your options are. We’ll review each to show you which are durable fabrics, which have high and low price points, and the other pros and cons of each fabric choice to help you narrow down your options.

Natural Sofa Fabrics

Natural fabrics are, as their name indicates, fabrics that come from nature and natural fibers and are available in a wide range of thread counts, patterns, and colors. They include:

  • Cotton Fabric
  • Linen Fabric
  • Silk Fabric
  • Wool Fabric
  • Rayon Fabric


  • Tight weave design is scratch and snag resistant for high traffic living rooms.
  • Available in organic form, free of chemicals, dyes, and flame retardants.
  • Typically available at a reasonable price point, suitable for all budgets. 
  • Naturally hypo-allergenic.
  • Easy to clean off pet hair.


  • Not as stain resistant as other fabric options.
  • Some fabrics, like silk, must be professionally cleaned if soiled.
  • Natural fibers are more prone to abrasion as they are more delicate than synthetics.

Synthetic Sofa Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are man-made synthetic fibers, designed to simulate the look and feel of natural fibers at a much lower price point. They include:

  • Microfiber
  • Acetate
  • Polypropylene
  • Nylon
  • Acrylic
  • Olefin


  • Performance fabrics that are scratch and stain resistant and easy to clean up.
  • Are often combined with natural fabric weaves to create a more durable blend.
  • Have a lower price point than many comparable high end natural fabrics. 


  • Tend to collect pet hair more than natural fabrics.
  • Some synthetic fibers, like acetate, are far more likely to wrinkle and stain. 
  • Lower quality synthetics are susceptible to pilling with frequent friction. 
  • Oil based stains are very difficult to remove from synthetic fabrics.

Leather and Faux Leather Materials

Leather and faux leather fabrics are unlike any other couch fabric materials. They have a much longer shelf-life and don’t stain or fade like other fabrics. They include:

Leather Types:

  • Cow Hide
  • Composite Hides
  • Top-grain
  • Split-grain
  • Suede

Faux Leather Types: 

  • PVC
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyamide Microfiber
  • Faux Suede


  • A more upscale option for consumers
  • Good for spot cleaning with simple soap and water. 
  • High odor and stain resistance. Does not absorb like other fabrics.
  • Leather furniture can be dyed to create a number of color options.


  • While true leather wears well over time, faux leather does not.
  • Some types of faux-leather are not as easy to clean as true leather.
  • Leather and faux leather sofas are difficult to repair if ripped or stained.
  • Can be hot when sat on and cause the user to sweat and stick to the fabric.
  • True leather is quite a bit more expensive than faux leather and other fabrics.
  • Leather and faux-leather tend to be prone to easy scratching by pet claws 

Unique Sofa Fabrics

Then there are certain types of unique upholstery fabrics that can’t be boxed into a specific category. That’s because they tend to be a blend of multiple different fabrics. These include:

  • Velvet 
  • Denim
  • Polyester Blends


  • Great for DIY project as you may not find these types of upholstery available otherwise 
  • Some options are far less expensive than traditional furniture fabrics. 
  • Unique fabrics make for a more original, one-of-a-kind sofa. 


  • May not be the best choice for a sofa which is why these aren’t traditionally used.
  • Reupholstering a couch is not a job to take lightly, it must be done properly.
  • Hiring a professional to reupholster your couch might cost more than you paid for it.
  • Some alternative fabrics aren’t as scratch and stain resistant as traditional fabrics. 

Choosing the Right Sofa Fabric for Your Situation

Now that you have a great understanding of the common, and not so common, fabric options for your piece of furniture, which is the best upholstery? The answer to that largely depends on your unique needs, preferences, and budget. Here are a few common scenarios that might help you narrow your options down:

  • If you’re a pet owner, a tight weave, performance fabric might be the best option for you. If you’re looking for something that looks slightly more upscale than fabric, a leather option might be the best sofa for you. If you tend to be allergy prone, a natural fiber fabric sofa might be a good option. 
  • If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution on a tight budget, a synthetic fiber fabric sofa is a great choice.  Also, make sure you keep in mind how much maintenance is needed to keep the appearance of your sofa up to par. Some fabrics are far easier to clean and maintain than others.

The Home of Cozy team also put together a great list of the best places to buy a couch so you can start there on your sofa-buying journey.

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