Leather vs. Fabric Sofas: What Should you choose?


When selecting the perfect sofa for your home, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make involves choosing a suitable upholstery material. Adding both comfort and visual appeal to your living spaces, the right one will help to define the style of your room and will also play an enormous part in determining its longevity. 

Fabric and leather are the two main options and each comes with its own set of advantages and considerations, making reaching a final verdict both exciting and daunting. 

Join our experienced interior design team as we delve a little deeper into which one will serve you best, and why.


Which Sofa is Better - Leather or Fabric?

When weighing up your choices, it's important to understand the subtle differences between the two. Doing so will give you some insight into which one is more suited to your particular lifestyle. These four factors will help you do just that: 

1 - Durability:

Impacting the longevity and performance of a sofa, the durability of its upholstery material will ensure that it can withstand regular use and maintain its structural integrity over time, despite spills, stains and daily pummelling. A hard-wearing choice will ensure that your investment is safe for years to come.

Fabric Sofas

  • Varies in durability depending on the type used but, on average, will stay intact for between 5 and 10 years.
  • High-quality fabrics with a tight weave, like wool or linen, last longer.
  • Opting for something that has been treated to endure spills and stains is always a wise decision.

Leather Sofas

  • Known for their long-lasting capabilities, leather sofas have been know to last upwards of 30 - 50 years.
  • Full-grain and top-grain versions are resistant to scratches and tears.
  • It ages gracefully, developing a beautiful, rich patina as time goes by. 

2 - Care and maintenance:

To ensure that your sofa remains looking beautiful for as long as possible, taking care of it is crucial and will help to preserve its colour and condition. We suggest you follow the manufacturer's instructions and adopt a proactive approach when it comes to getting into a good regime. This is what is involved for each material:

Fabric Sofas

  • Vacuuming and spot cleaning should be done on a regular basis. 
  • If your sofa has a removable cover, it can be machine-washed whenever needed. 
  • Exposure to direct sunlight will cause it to fade. 

Leather Sofas

  • Requiring minimal attention and resistant to stains, wiping it down with a damp cloth whenever needed is sufficient. 
  • Use a good quality leather conditioner a couple of times a year to stop it from drying out and cracking.
  •  As with fabrics, it should be kept away from direct heat and sunlight at all times.

3 - Comfort and feel:

Finding your perfect sofa means that whatever you choose will give you optimal comfort, promote a sense of well-being and encourage relaxation. For this to happen, your choice in upholstery materials has to be spot on, enabling you to enjoy a fuller, more immersive experience. 

Fabric Sofas

  • Soft and inviting, many fabric materials offer a plushness not found in leather. 
  • Not all fabrics are breathable making it more difficult for you to stay cool in hot weather. 
  • Fabric is prone to pilling, which could irritate your skin. 

Leather Sofas

  • Firm and supportive, it contributes to the ergonomic support of your sofa. 
  • It can adapt to your body temperature, providing the appropriate comfort during both summer and winter.
  • Luxurious to the touch, leather adds to an overall sense of opulence, making for an elegant seating experience.

4 - Style and aesthetics

Finding the right sofa style will set the tone for your entire room, defining your space and enabling you to refect your personality and design preferences. From contemporary chic to a cosy, traditional aesthetic, your choice of upholstery is the key to getting this right.

Fabric Sofas

  • Not only are there hundreds of fabrics to choose from but they also come in an almost endless range of colours, textures and patterns. 
  • Soft by nature, fabric will help to create a more relaxed environment, giving your room an inviting feel. 
  • It's easy to find something that will complement the overall style of your living room. 

Leather Sofas

  • Exuding a sense of refinement and sophistication, leather fits in well with a variety of different design genres. 
  • With plenty of colours and finishes to choose from, finding something that matches your other furniture is easy.
  • Leather is timeless and will never go out of fashion, so it's a wonderful way to future-proof your home.

The price difference between fabric and leather

There's no denying that leather sofas cost significantly more than their fabric counterparts, which may put extra strain on your budget. However, this hefty outlay actually buys you more bang for your buck. Here's why:

  • Long-term investment: Despite being cheaper, fabric sofas will need to be replaced withing 5 - 10 years. A good leather option will last you at least 3 decades.
  • Maintenance requirements: Over their lifespan, a fabric sofa will incur higher maintenance bills including professional cleaning and stain removal. Conversely, leather requires minimal upkeep.
  • Quality: In both options, price may also vary according to the grade. For example, top- and full-grain leather is more expensive than nubuck, and silk is far more costly than polyester.  

Choosing your sofa material in accordance with your lifestyle

Before you commit to either upholstery choice, you'll need to consider your lifestyle. These factors will influence your ultimate decision:

  • Children and pets: Many fabrics are susceptible to scratches and stains, making them unsuitable if you have boisterous family members. 
  • Allergies: Fabric is prone to trapping dust and pet dander, whereas leather is a natural product that is 100% hypoallergenic.
In conclusion

Choosing between a fabric or leather sofa ultimately depends on personal preferences, budget, and lifestyle. Both types have pros and cons regarding comfort, durability, maintenance, and design options and, as there is usually quite a large price difference, your budget will also be an influencing factor. 

At FCI London, we have over 700 luxury brands on offer, so schedule a showroom visit with us today and our design professionals will show you all the options. 

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