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Leather vs. Fabric Sofas: Pros and Cons of Each

A sofa is one of the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. It can be a functional accent piece or a big chunky nuisance in your living room. That’s also where you and your friends will be gathering and spending most of the time when they visit.

When it comes to shopping for a sofa, one of the biggest decision to consider is whether to choose a leather or a fabric. We’ve broken down the pros and cons for each to help you decide.

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Leather Sofas

Sofas offer an ideal way to add comfortable seating to your living room. They can be used for resting, reading, and spending time with friends or family members. Leather sofas have a few distinct advantages over other kinds of sofas, although their function generally remains the same. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, with the main difference being the type of upholstery that is used to finish this piece of furniture.

If you are looking to place your sofa in a formal living room or other space in your home and want to add a lot of drama, then you will definitely want to opt for a leather sofa. They add flair and interest to your space while still providing the utility that you need. In addition to looking very impressive, leather sofas have a number of other benefits. Perfect for homeowners who want to add drama to a room while still having a functional piece of furniture, leather sofas look great in almost any space.


  • While you can buy traditional-looking leather sofas such as a Chesterfield, most leather sofas are very trendy and modern. They look very sleek and put-together, automatically updating a space and making it appear more high-end than a regular living room.
  • Leather sofas are ideal for homeowners who suffer from allergies, as they will not harbor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites as easily as fabric sofas will.
  • While regular care is very important, it’s relatively easy to perform. Leather sofas need to be lightly dusted from time to time and may require a rub down once a year to ensure that the finish on the leather stays looking amazing.
  • These sofas look amazing in any sort of décor scheme as long as the rest of the room is decorated in light colors. They can add a bit of flair and drama to any room and will instantly improve the overall appearance of a space.
  • Leather is very easy to maintain, as fur and dirt will not get stuck or ground into the leather in the way that they can so easily with fabric sofas. While leather can be damaged by scratching and things grinding into the surface, many people appreciate the appearance that the wear and patina give their sofa and think that it improves the look of their furniture.
  • A leather sofa will not lose its color and fade in the way that other types of sofas will. They can last decades if they are well maintained and people are careful when sitting on them so as to not accidentally damage the interior frame of the sofa.
  • As long as spills on the sofa are wiped up quickly, there won’t be any risk of staining or damaging the leather.
  • Leather cushions feel firmer and keep their shape better than fabric cushions do.


  • While your leather sofa will stay the same color for years, it does have a sheen that some people find to be unattractive. This is not something that will generally fade away with time, so the sheen that is there when you buy the sofa is the same one that will remain for the life of the furniture.
  • There are not many colors and shades to choose from, with most leather sofas being brown, black, or sometimes white. While there are different shades of brown and black available, leather sofas are never going to provide the pop of color that some living rooms need to brighten up a space.
  • Unfortunately, leather sofas tend to be much more expensive than other types of sofas, and this can make it difficult or impossible for some people to afford them. It is possible to buy faux leather sofas instead of the real thing, but these sofas come with their own set of problems, including not looking as high quality or expensive, and not lasting for nearly as long.
  • Spills that are left for a long time on the surface will become sticky and can discolor the leather over time. This may be irreparable or may require expensive professional cleaning.
  • While leather sofas tend to be just as comfortable as their fabric counterparts, they are much warmer to sit on, especially if they are in the sun. Sometimes these sofas become so warm that they are actually slightly sticky to bare skin, which is very unpleasant, especially in the summer.
  • Leather sleeper sofas are available, but they are very expensive and much harder to transform from a sofa into a bed than fabric options are.

Fabric Sofas

Fabric sofas are much more common in the average home than leather sofas are, and for good reason. They come in many different style choices and can be reupholstered if the design no longer matches the rest of the room. In addition, they are just as comfortable as leather sofas are, as long as they are good quality and the frame has been well-built to stand up to years of abuse.

While leather sofas are commanding and make a statement in a home, fabric sofas are ideal for many homes. They are perfect for families with children, those who aren’t interested in creating a more formal look in their homes, and people who don’t have a very large budget for buying a new sofa. They are preferable to leather sofas when the owner needs space to sit but doesn’t want to deal with the cold appearance or rigid feel of leather.


  • There are many different types of fabric that you can choose from for your new sofa, and each will have its own benefits. From microfiber which is very easy to clean to velvet upholstery which will create a high-end and expensive look, it’s fun and easy to choose from a number of different options.
  • Fabric sofas are generally much more comfortable than leather sofas are. While the overall comfort will depend on the structure and quality of the frame and cushions, the finish of the fabric is much more comfortable and easy to enjoy.
  • Higher quality fabric will, of course, be easier to keep looking nice and will last much longer than lower quality options will, but as a whole, fabric is much easier to spot clean.
  • It’s almost impossible to scratch fabric sofas the way that leather sofas can be scratched, and these unsightly marks won’t lower the value or appearance of the sofa. This means that cats and rambunctious children are less likely to accidentally damage the fabric.
  • Fabric sofas cost a lot less than leather options do, making them ideal for every buyer. In addition, they are available in a wide price range, so you can always buy a fabric sofa now and then upgrade later when you have a larger budget.
  • These sofas come in a number of different styles, making it easy to match them to the décor of your home. From classic to modern, fabric sofas can fit in a variety of spaces.
  • There are unlimited choices when it comes to choosing a color, pattern, material, and style of fabric for your sofa. This makes it possible to get the perfect sofa for your home and to easily match the sofa to a piece of art, the paint on the walls, the carpet, or even the curtains.
  • It’s easy to change the upholstery on your fabric sofa if you tire of the color or pattern that you have chosen. Professionals can complete this work very quickly and for a small cost, allowing you to change the appearance of your sofa to match the décor of the room.
  • Sleeper sofas are much easier to operate when they are covered in fabric, as fabric is more forgiving, making it easy to transform the sofa into a bed and vice versa.


  • Fabric sofas are not a great option for the family who suffers from allergies, as the fabric will trap allergens in it. This is especially true if there are pets in the home, as their dander and fur will stick to the fabric, potentially resulting in the need for professional cleaning.
  • While regular vacuuming and cleaning will keep a fabric sofa looking nice, it won’t be able to touch dust mites and other allergens that are deep in the cushions.
  • Lower-quality fabric is very difficult to clean and will quickly stain, even when the right cleaner is used right away. This will ruin the appearance of the sofa and can require the owner to pay to have it reupholstered or to buy a new one altogether.
  • Unlike leather sofas, which look great in all styles of homes, fabric sofas in a certain style will not fit in easily with another décor scheme. This means that modern fabric sofas can’t be used in classically-decorated rooms or homes without sticking out.
  • The color of the fabric will fade over time, and this process will happen even faster if the sofa sits in the sun. Uneven exposure to the sun will cause uneven fading, and this is very unattractive.
  • Strong smells such as cigarette smoke and food can become trapped in the fabric and cause the sofa to smell, requiring professional cleaning to remove the odor.