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13 Different Types of Upholstery Fabric for Furniture (Pros & Cons)

Unravel what options are available in the market when it comes to the different types of upholstery fabric, which happens to be the most important factor to consider if you want a stylish and comfortable upholstered furniture.

Upholstery fabric samples

Upholstered furniture is known for the comfort, style, and luxury that it offers. The demand for upholstered furniture has grown by several folds in the present age as priorities and preferences of people have changed. Today, people don’t just want their furniture to be stylish, but they also want it to be comfortable.

Upholstered furniture is padded furniture that is always enclosed in fabric. It has a steel or wooden frame over which springs and cushioning are attached. The padding or the cushioning is then covered with fabric to cover it up completely.

Upholstered furniture is not limited to sofas, as one may assume from the basic definition of it. You can find upholstered living room chairs, single, double-seater, or triple-seater sofas, dining chairs, couches, etc. No matter which area of your house you are furnishing, you can find suitable upholstered furniture for it.

Upholstered furniture is found in many designs, styles, and unique color and pattern combinations. The many design options make this type of furniture a preference for most people.

The upholstery fabric is the most important factor in deciding the look and comfort of upholstered furniture, as it is the fabric that covers the springs and cushioning over the frame of the furniture.

Numerous options for upholstery fabric are available in the market for you to choose from. If you are new to the world of upholstery, have a look at the types of upholstery fabric and decide which type will best suit your home’s needs.

Related: Types of Upholstered Chairs | Types of Furniture Styles | Types of Accent Chairs | Types of Slipcovers | Why Chesterfield Sofas are Ugly | Top Sofa Brands

You will see different types of upholstery fabric when you go to buy upholstered furniture or if you are planning on reupholstering your furniture. Every upholstery fabric type has its own charm and a unique impact. Having sufficient knowledge about different upholstery fabric can help you reach a decision easily.

1. LeatherBrown-colored leather sofa

The most common and the most widely used upholstery fabric is leather. Leather upholstery is not only comfortable, but also looks luxurious, feels grand, and smells expensive. Leather upholstered furniture looks amazing in living rooms.


  • Leather upholstery is easy to maintain. Depending on how well you take care of it, leather upholstered furniture can last for as long as 5 years. In case you spill liquid on it, you can easily wipe it off using a cloth because leather does not absorb liquid or stains.
  • Leather is a very durable material, which is why leather upholstered furniture can last for a very long time. It is resistant to certain products and chemicals which may damage the furniture.
  • Leather does not absorb spilled materials; therefore, it does not smell bad. Other fabric easily absorbs liquid spills and result in bad smelling furniture. Leather is the most suitable upholstery material for you if you own pets. Their smell won’t stick to your furniture. Moreover, if you smoke, leather upholstery won’t even absorb the smell of the smoke.

All in all, leather is a fabric that is well-suited to heavy use, while maintaining its style and elegance.


  • Leather is harder as compared to other fabric. Therefore, the comfort it offers is not as good as other upholstery fabric.
  • Leather has a tanned skin due to which it can split or crack. It can get damaged easily with sharp objects.
  • Leather upholstered furniture is quite expensive.

2. Polyester

Polyester is a microfiber that is commonly used as an upholstery fabric. It is available in many colors, and therefore, you can find polyester upholstered furniture that blends in with whatever theme your interior follows. Polyester upholstery looks attractive, and it gives an ‘expensive feel’ similar to that of leather upholstered furniture.


  • Polyester is a very soft and comfortable fabric that offers you the comfort you desire.
  • It is extremely easy to clean polyester upholstered furniture.
  • Polyester upholstery fabric dries very quickly in case of spills or washing.
  • It is stain-resistant and abrasion-resistant, which makes it quite durable.
  • Polyester fabric is only slightly breathable and will not absorb smells like other breathable fabric.


  • Polyester upholstery fabric can crack if it is exposed to extreme or fluctuating temperatures.
  • Polyester is a tensile fabric, which means that it will stretch over time.
  • The polyester material is flammable. Therefore, you can’t smoke near it, as that can be a safety hazard.

3. Olefin

Olefin is a petroleum-based synthetic fiber. It is extremely durable and is perfectly suited for places where the furniture is used quite roughly and receives a great deal of wear. Resembling the look and feel of wool, olefin is one of the most long-lasting types of upholstery fabric.


  • Olefin is made from melted plastic, which makes it water-resistant.
  • It is resistant to chemicals and fire.
  • Any stains that are water-based can be cleaned easily from olefin upholstery.
  • It is resistant to fading.
  • It can be cleaned with bleach.
  • The color of the fabric is consistent throughout as the dye is added to the melted plastic, rather than dying the fabric after it is woven.


  • Olefin is vulnerable to oil, light, and heat.
  • It has a limited variety, which is why it is not very desirable as an indoor upholstery fabric.
  • Oil-based stains are extremely hard to remove.
  • Too much exposure to sunlight can make olefin brittle.

4. RayonRayon fabric in blue color

Rayon is semi-synthetic fiber. It is versatile and offers comfort that is similar to the comfort levels provided by true natural fibers. Although rayon is not a very durable upholstery fabric, the newer varieties of this fabric are widely used in upholstered furniture.


  • Rayon is a very cheap form of upholstery fabric.
  • It is very soft and comfortable.
  • It is resistant to moths and mildew.
  • The newer varieties of rayon are quite durable.


  • Rayon does not retain its original appearance for long.
  • It gets scratched quite easily.
  • It is prone to wrinkling.
  • It is not water-resistant, and it loses its original appearance rapidly when it gets wet.
  • Rayon has an extremely low elastic recovery, which means that it does not return to its original appearance quickly.

5. Wool

Wool is a natural fabric that can be used as an upholstery fabric. It is available in a massive variety. It is soft and warm, and these qualities make it a comfortable upholstery material. Wool upholstery is a great option for a couch you plan on placing in your living room. Although wool is not commonly used for upholstery purposes, it does come with a number of benefits.


  • Wool blends that are used for upholstery purposes are very comfortable.
  • It is fire and water-resistant.
  • It is an environmentally-friendly material.
  • Wool has insulating properties that make it warm in cold weather and cool when the weather is hot.
  • Wool is durable.
  • It is resistant to mold and mildew.
  • It does not fade.
  • It does not wrinkle.


  • Wool is an expensive fabric.

6. Acetate

Upholstered gray-colored sofa in a stylish living room interior.

Acetate is popular upholstery fabric. It is a synthetic fabric which was initially made to imitate silk in its shine and luster. It gives the furniture a luxurious feel. Acetate upholstered furniture adds class and elegance to a formal sitting area. Although it makes for a piece of beautiful upholstery fabric, acetate is not as strong as other synthetic fibers.


  • It is resistant to humidity.
  • It is lustrous and shiny like silk.
  • Acetate is resistant to pilling.
  • Acetate is cheap upholstery fabric.
  • It is resistant to mildew and mold.


  • Acetate lacks strength.
  • It wrinkles easily.
  • Acetate upholstery fabric needs to be dry-cleaned.
  • It is not suitable for everyday use.
  • It catches stains easily.
  • It is not resistant to scratches.
  • Acetate lacks elasticity.

7. Cotton

Cotton is the most commonly used and the most popular upholstery fabric. It is a natural fiber that makes the most durable upholstery. Cotton can be dyed very easily, and that is why you will find cotton upholstery fabric in any color imaginable. Most importantly, cotton is available in different grades, which means that no matter what your budget is, you will find a cotton grade that falls in your budget. Cotton is a popular upholstery fabric for all the right reasons.


  • Cotton is 100% natural.
  • It can be dyed in almost any color.
  • It is soft and comfortable.
  • It is breathable.
  • Cotton is one of the most durable fabric.
  • It resists pilling.
  • It is resistant to abrasion.
  • Cotton is hypoallergenic, which makes it suitable for people who have highly sensitive skin.


  • Cotton wrinkles easily.
  • Cotton is super easy to dye. However, this is not always a good thing. It catches dye so easily that it will even catch the color of your blue-colored jeans.
  • It can soak in spills quickly, which can cause your cotton upholstered furniture to stink over time.

8. Silk

Silk is one of the most luxurious and most expensive natural fibers. Silk is a worthy investment for areas that have a formal décor. If taken care of, silk can be a quite long-lasting investment. Known for unmatched shine and softness, silk tops the chart of luxurious fabric.


  • Silk can last a very long time if it is taken care of properly.
  • It has a luxurious and formal look.
  • It is available in a huge variety of colors, patterns, and designs.
  • It can retain its shape well.


  • Silk is very expensive.
  • Since it is a delicate fabric, it needs dry-cleaning.
  • It is not suitable to be used for furniture that is meant to be used roughly.
  • Silk upholstery is not suitable for houses where there are pets.
  • It is susceptible to damage by the sun.
  • It is not family-friendly.
  • It is receptive to spills and fading.

9. Acrylic

A sofa with cushions and throw

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that is often used as an upholstery fabric. It is also used in different blends. Acrylic imitates wool. It is available in a number of vivid colors that make acrylic upholstered furniture a perfect addition to informal sitting areas.


  • Acrylic is a soft fabric.
  • It is easy to wash and clean.
  • It dries quickly.
  • It is available in vivid colors.
  • It is sun-safe, which means it can be used as outdoor fabric for outdoor furniture.


  • It can develop excessive pilling.
  • Acrylic can melt if it is exposed to heat or flame.
  • Some people may be allergic to acrylic.
  • It is not resistant to abrasion.

10. Linen

Linen is a natural fiber that has its origin from the flax plant. It is one of the most popular and affordable upholstery fabric that are in use today. It is often mixed with synthetic fibers to improve its characteristics.


  • It has a slubby texture that is responsible for the alluring feel of linen upholstery that we all love.
  • Linen is very smooth to the touch and is very soft, which makes it a super comfortable material.
  • It is one of the strongest fabric with the best durability among all types of upholstery fabric.
  • It is affordable.
  • It gets stronger when wet.
  • It does not pill.
  • It is abrasion-resistant.
  • Linen has a natural luster and sheen. Its natural, earthy color (beige to ecru gray) looks extremely elegant.
  • Linen is antibacterial and is resistant to mildew.
  • It is resistant to fading.
  • It is an eco-friendly material


  • Linen wrinkles quite easily.
  • It is prone to soiling.
  • Linen is not suitable for everyday, rough use.
  • It needs professional cleaning to ensure that it does not shrink.

11. Velvet

Velvet is one of the most beautiful, the most elegant, and the most attractive fabric. Velvet upholstered furniture looks breathtakingly beautiful. It can transform the interior of any space almost instantly.


  • Velvet is luxuriously soft.
  • It looks regal.
  • Velvet has a nap in which the fiber piles lie, and thus, it catches the light and reflects it across the shape of the furniture. It accentuates the volumetric form of whichever piece of furniture it covers.
  • Velvet can be dyed in rich colors.
  • It has excellent insulation properties.


  • It is difficult to clean and maintain velvet.
  • It is a very expensive fabric.
  • The durability of velvet depends on the density of the piles of woven fibers.
  • It is only suitable for lush furniture that is meant for formal use.

12. Jute

Jute is native to Bangladesh and India. It was originally used to make mats and ropes. However, jute is also used as an upholstery fabric. Even though it can be used as an upholstery fabric, jute is not a very commonly used one.


  • Jute adds an excellent element of texture to any interior.
  • It is mostly used as an upholstery material for ottomans.
  • Jute looks great in combination with other upholstery fabric like leather.


  • Jute is prone to wrinkling.
  • It is a rough and hard fabric, which makes it quite uncomfortable.
  • It turns yellow if it is exposed to sunlight.
  • It loses its strength when exposed to moisture.

13. Chenille

Chenille is a French word for caterpillar. It is a super-soft, naturally obtained fabric. Chenille is a very stretchable fabric which means that backing is necessary. Chenille is most commonly used as an upholstery fabric for children’s furniture or comfort furniture pieces since it is considered a casual fabric.


  • It is a very soft fabric.
  • It is durable.
  • Chenille fabric can be conveniently cleaned at home.
  • Chenille upholstered furniture is very comfortable.
  • It is available in a number of colors.


  • Chenille is extremely stretchable. Adding a backing adds to the cost.
  • It is not suitable to be used in homes where there are pets.
  • Dust and debris can get stuck in the long fibers quite easily.

With so many types of upholstery fabric, finding one that suits your needs might prove to be difficult. However, you should consider certain things before selecting an upholstery fabric. These factors include the type of use of the furniture (formal or informal), whether you have pets at home or not, how easy it is to clean the selected fabric, its stain resistance, and above all, how expensive it is. The right choice of upholstery fabric is as important as the right design if you wish your furniture to bring the level of your decor up!