How to Choose the Right Couch Fabric & Materials for You

Monday, March 8, 2021

When it comes to choosing the materials for your couch there are more than design preferences to consider. Today we’re going to walk you through how to choose the best materials for your lifestyle and the pros and cons of different couch materials. But first, consider the following questions:

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Sofa Materials

  1. How much wear will I expect this couch to handle?
  2. Does my couch style preference warrant certain fabric types?
  3. Do I have pets or young kids to consider?
  4. Is ease of care or cleaning important to me?
  5. What is my maximum budget?

Popular Upholstery Fabric Options

Leather Couches

Leather is a sleek, classy way to dress up your sofa. The pros of leather couches are that they are durable and can last longer than most fabric sofas. Leather holds its shape well over time and can be made resistant to cracking and peeling. Instead of fading or wearing over time, leather often gets even more comfortable. The con of leather is that it’s one of the more expensive options and may not be within the budgets of most couch shoppers. If want the look of leather on a smaller budget, consider micro leather, also known as vegan or faux leather. Though durable, faux leather does not last as long as real leather and can puncture or tear.

Silk Couches

Silk is a natural fiber that has a very elegant appearance that can bring a regal feel to your home decor. Common in more traditional sofa styles, silk can be patterned or plain. It’s on the more expensive side and stains easily, but its durability can make it worth the investment if cared for properly. Pro tip: silk fibers wear down easily when exposed to sunlight, so avoid putting your sofa near a large window.

Polyester Couches

As a synthetic fabric, polyester is typically on the more affordable end of sofa upholstery options. It’s also very durable and is resistant to scratching. Although hypoallergic, it doesn’t breathe as well as more natural fibers and may irritate sensitive skin. Polyester upholstery is typically used in outdoor furniture, although it can be found in a variety of indoor couch options as well.

Microfiber & Microsuede Couches

Microfiber is a synthetic material that is usually made up of different polyesters. You can get it in almost any color and some micro-fabrics even mimic the look of leather (hello, microsuede!) This material is durable, water and stain resistant, and doesn’t collect dust, making it great for couches that need to withstand a lot of wear and tear. The cons? Microfiber can be a pet hair magnet and while resistant to stains, untreated ones can cause bigger problems. All in all, this is a great option for households with pets or kids who don’t mind synthetic fabrics in the home.

Linen Sofas

You’ve probably heard of linen being used in clothing, but it’s used in sofas, too! Linen is a light, natural fiber that is very elegant and antistatic. Linen can lend a luxurious feel to your sofa design, especially if you’ve chosen a more traditional style. This material can be on the pricier side and is often reserved for more formal living areas where it won’t endure heavy wear. However, it is easy to spot-clean. You can also consider a removable linen couch cover for even easily cleanability.

Wool Sofas

Wool is a natural fiber that is often used for upholstery, but usually in a blend with other materials. Wool sofas are durable, naturally flame retardant, and resistant to mold and bacteria – which is great for those with allergies. The disadvantages of wool couches are that wool can easily pill and must be dry cleaned (no liquid cleaners for this sofa). Also, while wool couches are growing in popularity, there are limited styles and colors to choose from.

Cotton Cloth Couches

Cotton is another natural fiber cloth on our list and a great option for people with a variety of sofa needs. Cotton is very versatile and can vary from thick and sturdy denim to light and airy muslin, depending on the weave and length of fibers. A perk of cotton fabric is that it is very breathable and will allow heat and moisture to move away from your body (think of wearing a cotton shirt versus a polyester one). A cotton cloth couch is also durable; it easily resists pilling and is usually machine washable. The downside is that cotton wrinkles easily and is not good with stains.

Velvet Sofas

Velvet is an elegant, luxurious material that is actually not a material at all. Velvet is really a term denoting weave, not the material it’s made of. In fact, velvet can be made with polyester, cotton, silk and more. Depending on the material used to make it, a velvet couch can either be very durable (polyester) or super high maintenance (silk). Regardless of material, velvet does stain easily. The good news, however, is since the weave is not raised, it’s hard for velvet to snag or gather hair and dirt. Check the care instructions on the couch before you buy it to make sure it meets your needs and your lifestyle.

Frame and Accent Materials

The upholstery of your future couch is just half of the material considerations you’ll have to make. Many couches have additional accents or pieces that are customizable. We’ve listed the most common below:


Metal is very common in more contemporary-style couch frames and vary between gold or silver finishing. Good examples of this style are Mid-Century Modern or Tuxedo couches. The pros of metal it that it is very strong and lasts a long time. Mixing metal with more elegant fabrics can give your sofa a classy, modern look that really makes a statement.


Most sofa styles have wooden frames and the option of hardwood feet, arms or accents. The benefit of wood is its versatility. The price of your couch may vary depending on the type of wood used in its frame (pine is typically cheaper but less durable). In terms of more visible parts like legs and arms, each wood stain, carving, and finish can exude a different style, making it very easy to pair with your couch style of choice.

Rattan & Wicker

For a more boho, beachy or natural look, choose a whicker couch made of rattan. Rattan is a reed-like palm that is native to Asia and its strong and sturdy. You can pair it with a patterned cloth upholstery for a fun and festive look. Wicker is a more affordable, but less durable, alternative to rattan. Wicker refers to a certain weaving process and can be made out of rattan or another natural or synthetic material. Both rattan and wicker couches offer a lot of personality and are good options indoors and out.