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The Great Debate: Fabric vs. Leather

by Nick, Digital Specialist | July 1, 2020

One of the first things we try to find out from a customer is if they'd prefer fabric or leather- and many times, customers don't know! Here's a handy checklist to help you figure out what's right for you and your situation.


When someone comes into our showroom looking for a couch, one of the most common questions we ask them is if they’re looking for a sofa in fabric or a sofa in leather. Many times, our clients aren’t sure which they prefer or what’s best for them, and that can make the decision pretty difficult. We figured we would put together a checklist to help you figure out which option is best.

FACTOR #1: COMFORT
There are many factors that affect the comfort of a sofa, but the material is an important one. Leather furniture tends to sit a little firmer because of how the leather is pulled tightly across the piece, but leather will also be affected more by the temperature. It’s not as dramatic as some people make it out to be (your home is climate-controlled after all, unlike your car) but it’s still a factor. Fabric is obviously less susceptible to temperature change, and will have a softer overall feel. You also don’t have to wait for fabric furniture to “break in” like leather furniture.
CHECK ONE: _____ LEATHER _____ FABRIC

FACTOR #2: DURABILITY AND MAINTENANCE
Again, the cover of a sofa is only one thing that affects its overall durability but it definitely plays a role. In general, leather will handle general wear-and-tear better than fabric, and will also be easier to clean. However, leather requires more maintenance to be kept in top shape (see our article about sofa maintenance!). Also, some newer fabrics are inherently stain-resistant and don’t require the upkeep that leather does. Leather is more susceptible to scratches, making them less ideal for pets.
CHECK ONE: _____ LEATHER _____ FABRIC

FACTOR #3: PRICE
All else being equal, the same sofa will always cost more in leather than it will in fabric. That’s not to say that there are expensive fabrics or cheap leathers (you might want to check out our article about different leathers) but in general, leather will be more expensive. Other factors will affect the overall price, but some of our clients find they will get more bang for their buck with a fabric sofa.
CHECK ONE: _____ LEATHER _____ FABRIC

FACTOR #4: COLOR AND PATTERN
If you’re concerned about matching existing decor or getting a specific look, fabric is likely your best choice; leather usually offers fewer choices when it comes to colors. You’ll find your standard neutral colors in either case, but if you need more options than that, you’ll be a little more limited if you choose leather. Plus, if you prefer a patterned sofa, you’ll have to choose fabric. However, the possibility of the color fading over time is higher with fabric.
CHECK ONE: _____ LEATHER _____ FABRIC

FACTOR #5: OTHER FACTORS
Many of our clients don’t realize that leather is hypoallergenic. Leather won’t accumulate dust mites, pet hair, or other allergens like a fabric sofa that’s more porous. If you suffer from chronic allergies, leather might be a better choice so you don’t prolong your allergy season. One other thing to consider is that leather is an animal byproduct, so if you lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, leather may not be for you.
CHECK ONE: _____ LEATHER _____ FABRIC

Knowing what you’re looking for before you come into the store will help make your visit faster and more efficient. Tally up your score from our checklist...what did you find? Is a leather sofa or a fabric sofa better for you?