Leather or Fabric? Choosing the Right Sofa for Your Family

Looking to buy a new sofa? Having trouble deciding whether what would suit your home more, a leather sofa or a fabric sofa. Both types come in in a variety of styles, and there are plenty of price range options available for leather and fabric sofas, so how do you decide? Perhaps your decision swings from one to the other, and whichever you choose you’re afraid of switching decisions again after you buy it. Well, maybe we can offer some additional points to consider when purchasing the right sofa for you and your home. 

General Maintenance

One of the first things to consider when purchasing a sofa is the quality of the piece, and how easy will it be to maintain? There is a lot of mass-produced furniture available in shops today. It can be very tempting to save a bit of money and buy a contemporary-styled Scandinavian sofa for a few hundred dollars. When you can do that, why pay thousands of dollars, right? The downside to those initial savings is that your sofa is lacking the foundations of high-quality, durable materials. Irrespective of whether you’re leaning more towards leather of fabric, you want to aim for quality first. Here are a few pointers when it comes to looking for the best materials for either leather or fabric. 

Fabric: If you’re thinking about a fabric sofa, then think materials like wool, cotton, and linen. When these materials are mixed with certain synthetics, you have a fabric that is not only breathable but also easier to clean. With these high-quality fabric sofas, general maintenance comes down to vacuuming once or twice a week. With regularly vacuuming you remove excess dirt from the weave you prolong the even colouring of your piece. Fabric sofas are more at risk of wearing thin with a high amount of use than leather sofas. Still, if you select high-quality fabrics, then you do minimise that risk.

Leather: The type of leather that you pick will be the main determining factor for how your couch will age over time and how it will look in the future. Leather is treated in different ways to achieve a particular desired finish and look. This treatment will determine how the leather needs to be treated once it becomes your family’s couch. As it is with fabric sofas, the quality of the leather will determine how well it endures the ravages of time. Cheap, imitation leather is prone to early deterioration. It will crack and fade even with relatively little wear and a reasonable degree of care. Look for leathers marked as full-grain, aniline, or semi-aniline. Don’t fall into the trap of buying “genuine leather”. This term is used as a creative marketing term to give the impression of quality. The actuality of what you’re buying is more likely cheap leather glued together. 


Arguably the most crucial aspect to consider when buying a sofa. Purchasing a couch on style and looks alone won’t help to make it any comfier when you’re curled up on it watching television. Is there a type of material that will make your sofa more comfortable to sit or lie on? You can argue one way or the other, the actual fact is that comfort is subjective. You could have a sinkable, soft sofa that is leather or fabric. Just like either type of sofa could be more firm with a high-back made for the straight-sitters. The subjectivity of comfort will depend on a range of personal factors, including appearance. If you’re unhappy with the style or colour of your sofa, then you are more likely to perceive it as uncomfortable because of your own negative connotations towards. You need to envision the lounge piece in your home before you buy it. Does it match the rest of your decor? Will the colour work with the current tone of the room? Think of the lighting in your home/room and thinking about spacing. Lounge suits can look completely different when in a showroom, especially when placed in a mock living room.

Cleaning & Spills

Life happens. Spills and mess will eventually find their way onto your sofa. Sofas are made to be lived on. One day you’ll be enjoying a nice hot bowl of soap, and before you know it so is your couch. Leather and fabric sofas have different protocols to achieve the best results for handling spills and stains. The first step, however, remains the same. Soak up as much excess as possible. Get a clean cloth and dab. Dab again and again with a clean cloth until no more stain is being transferred.

After that, the cleaning methods will differ. For fabrics, make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions because some cleaning methods may even discolour your couch further. As you’d expect leather is much more forgiving than fabric and gently mopping a spill can handle most of the work. The key is to take good preemptive care of your leather. If you keep your leather sofa buffed with a high-quality buffer agent, then spills are less than likely to seep into the pores. Whilst there are effective cleaning methods to keep your fabric sofa looking brand new for an extended period, it is hard to compare with the ease of cleaning and care that goes into leather sofas. 

Lifestyle Factors

Choosing a particular type of fabric sofa over another will come down to your lifestyle in several ways. When browsing the furniture stores for your brand new sofa, there are a few points you may want to think about.

  • Do you find your airways and sinuses under siege as soon as spring rolls around? Allergies and specific respiratory issues flare up during the spring season. If you are someone that knows this all too well, then your choice should be simple. Choose leather. Fabric couches attract allergens, dust particles and nasties like dust mites much more quickly than leather. Leather sofas are also hypoallergenic.
  • Do you have a four-legged companion? More importantly, is your pet your best friend, i.e. are they going to spend as much time (if not more) time on the sofa than you are? If this is the case, then given the hardiness and ease of cleaning that leather offers, you may want to consider it your first choice. 
  • Kids. Young children more specifically can cause havoc on your furniture, and there is only a limited level of control you will have over this fact. Once again, leather furniture may be the best option when it comes to young children and maintenance.

Your sofa will be a long term companion in your home. It will be a central piece of furniture to your living space and hundreds if not thousands of hours will be spent relaxing on it. While it may seem purely an aesthetic choice, choosing whether it is leather fabric should probably be based on a few other functional aspects. Ultimately pick one that is right for you, your lifestyle and your home.

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