Shopping for a new sofa always comes with plenty of questions about design, size, and color. But before you even get to that point, you need to decide on leather vs. fabric sofa upholstery.
There are great reasons for both types of upholstery, and even though here at Leather Furniture USA, we specialize in high-quality leather upholstery, it might not always be the ideal choice for everyone.
So, to make sure that you get the perfect sofa for your home and don’t end up with buyers’ remorse, we’ve put together a list of the most important reasons to consider.
10 Things That Should Influence Your Decision
Here are the ten things to consider before making a decision between fabric or leather sofas.
1 – Comfort
There are a couple of ways to look at comfort, but let’s start with a fabric sofa. Now, there are vast differences in fabric quality that ultimately impact comfort levels. A high-quality and extremely soft fabric will up the comfort level a lot.
And many people prefer that such sofa materials tend to be warmer than a leather sofa.
However, once you add texture into the fabric, then what can happen is that you sacrifice some level of comfort for visual impact.
On the other hand, leather sofa materials generally have a much smoother surface, and with the right quality, it will also be extremely comforting.
The downside is that if you sit on leather with bare skin, then you would tend to sweat, which you might want to keep in mind if you live in a hot climate.
2 – Care
For this, you have to consider how you would need to look after leather and fabric furniture.
With leather sofas, you can keep the upholstery clean with little more than a damp cloth. But you would need to regularly apply a leather conditioner to make sure it’s properly cared for and will last for a long time.
Fabric couches might seem a bit easier to care for as you should be able to use a vacuum cleaner. The downside is that spilled food and drink is a bigger problem, and you’ll probably need to get a fabric couch deep cleaned every few years.
Overall, it tends to be a bit easier to keep leather sofa materials clean.
3 – Staining
This is related to the previous item but important to look at on its own. Leather sofas tend to be more stain-resistant than their fabric counterparts. A good quality leather won’t instantly absorb spills, and if you’re quick enough to wipe it away with a cloth, then most spills won’t leave any visible effect.
This is important if you have young children or for those of us who are more accident-prone.
Fabric, in general, is a bit less forgiving. And those dreaded red wine stains can be a real pain to get out.
There are some special stain repellent treatments, but it’s still not going to be as good as leather.
4 – Color Choices
Theoretically, there should be hardly any difference in the number of colors available when it comes to choosing between a leather vs. fabric sofa.
But both types have some unique advantages.
Fabric upholstery provides a bit more flexibility when it comes to unique shades as the raw fabric usually has such a light color.
But there is one thing you won’t be able to get, and that’s the unique natural shades of a full and semi-aniline leather. This type of leather is treated with a soluble dye that penetrates deep into the leather fibers.
The result is an amazing look that makes every leather sofa unique.
5 – Pattern Options And Textures
This is where the two types of upholstery also bring some unique features.
First of all, there is no denying that fabric sofas will have a lot more choices when it comes to patterns and textures in the upholstery. With different weaving techniques and a mix of fabrics, you have a lot of great options.
But leather sofas also bring something truly unique to the table. Top and full grain leather in the right color can bring out all the natural imperfections and truly unique shades of every single animal hide. With the right style and room decor, it can provide an amazing look.
There is also the patina effect of full grain leather that gradually improves the appearance of the surface over time. It gives it a polished look, and it’s not something that can be recreated with any fabric or synthetic materials.
6 – Durability
This is where the debate between fabric vs. leather couch comes down to the material and type of leather.
A good fabric sofa will likely outlive a bonded or faux leather sofa. But those are the types of leather that we don’t recommend considering.
If you choose a full or top grain leather sofa, then you’ll typically get over 25 years, assuming you picked one with a durable solid wood sofa frame.
Between the leather being less prone to tearing and the fact that it takes a lot of use and wear to see any signs of damage, you simply won’t get a better result with fabric sofas.
7 – Child And Pet Suitability
For most families, this is going to be a vital part of the decision between leather vs. fabric sofas.
If you have a furry friend and they tend to leave a lot of pet hair around, then you’ll have your work cut out with a fabric couch. Animal hair is notoriously tough to get off the fabric, and you’ll need special attachments for your vacuum to get it off.
With leather options, that’s a lot easier as pet hair doesn’t get stuck to the fabric surface. But you do run the risk of pets using the leather as a scratching post, which could ruin an expensive piece of furniture.
And when it comes to kids, then you have to consider the reality of sticky hands and all sorts of stuff spilling on the sofa. Fabric options can then be an awful lot more difficult to clean, and stains tend to be more permanent.
With leather sofas, the majority of spills require little more than some warm water and soap.
8 – Cost
Generally speaking, high-end leather sofas will cost more than the most expensive fabric sofa you can find. And that’s because you get a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to durability.
At the same time, a high-end wool sofa with a solid wood frame is still going to cost a lot of money. So it’s important to consider whether you prefer a certain look and feel over the durability of full grain aniline leather.
While you could pay 30% to 50% more for leather furniture depending on the style, keep in mind that leather could last more than twice as long without showing signs of wear.
9 – Allergies
This is an important thing to consider in a leather vs. fabric sofas decision. If you suffer from allergies like dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens, then fabric furniture will be a lot more difficult on your airways.
See, it’s a lot easier for dust and other small particles to settle into the fabric. And then, every time someone sits down on the sofa, the room will fill with allergens again.
With leather couches, those particles will settle on the surface. And during your main allergy season, you can simply wipe the surface down with a damp cloth every day to avoid a constant burst of allergens.
The more severe your allergies are, the more you’ll have to gain from avoiding fabrics for your furniture.
10 – Home Decor
And the final thing to keep in mind when picking your new couch is how it will match up against your other home furnishings.
Now, a mix of fabric and leather can work well together, but it will require a lot more careful planning to get the right style for the living space. Sometimes, it can be a better approach to soften a room that has a lot of natural wood on the walls and floors with fabric couches.
At the same time, classic leather couches can make such a room a lot more rustic and comfortable on those cold winter nights.
Choosing the right material here is going to be a challenge, and it’s likely that it’s some of the above points that will bring you to a decision between leather vs. fabric sofas.
Have You Made A Decision For Your New Couch?
If you ask ten of your friends and family to help you decide, you’ll likely find that there is quite an even split between picking a leather vs. fabric sofa. Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for your living space, and the above tips should help you with that decision.
The best way to start the process is to decide on each of the above tips whether you would lean towards fabric or leather. Then, when you get to the end of the list, see whether there is a clear winner and use that as your starting point.
And don’t forget to browse our online store to get some ideas of what kind of leather couches might work best for you.