Upholstery Fabric Types: Which One Suits Your High-end Sofa?

Upholstery Fabric Types: Which One Suits Your High-end Sofa?

An upholstery is a massive undertaking. That’s because it is as much about purpose as appearance. Most people plan only for appearance, completely neglecting the function part. To further complicate the matter, there are different types of upholstery fabric types. If you’re a novice DIYing the upholstery for a high-end sofa for the first time, it can be understandably confusing.

But it doesn’t have to be. And this article shows you how.

In the subsequent section, we will explore the different types of fabrics available for your high-end sofa.

Are Upholstery Fabrics Different from Normal Fabrics?

Living room with grey L shaped couch

As we said, upholstery is a massive undertaking. It starts with padding, springing, stuffing, and covering furniture, making it suitable for seating. While many DIYers carefully plan for pads and springs, they underestimate the covering fabric. They conclude that just about any fabric will do the job. But that’s a mistake.

Yes, upholstery fabrics are different from regular fabrics. By definition, an upholstery fabric is meant specifically for furniture coverings, while a regular fabric is used for a wide range of purposes. Generally, these are thicker, tougher, and more durable. The thread count is higher and designed to hide the padding underneath. And more importantly, the fabrics for upholstery have the necessary drape. Drape defines how stiff the fabric is. These are just pliable enough to be wrapped around the object but not thin enough to tear apart easily.

All in all, you should never trade normal fabrics for upholstery fabrics for the dining room. Upholstery materials are designed for a reason, and it’s always better to use them, even if it means delaying the project till you find the suitable one.


Different Types of Upholstery Fabrics

Now, let’s look at the options you have at hand for the sofa makeover. Broadly speaking, there are two types of upholstery fabrics: natural and synthetic.

Historically, animals and plants were the only sources available. Humans would skin an animal and use the extract for clothing. Over time, they learned how to tan the extract and extend its longevity. With industrialization and advancement in plastic technology, synthetic leather was introduced. That’s how we end up with two broad types of fabrics for upholstery.

tan living room with two seat couch and chair with glass coffee table

Under these two categories, you’ll find all different types of fabrics for your high-end sofa. Let’s look at the 13 major types available for selection.

Natural Upholstery Fabrics

  1. Leather – Most commonly used natural upholstery fabric for high-end furniture is leather. It is tough, durable, sleek, and super comfortable. If you’re looking for an original source and have the necessary budget, opt for leather as your choice of upholstery fabric for your living room.
  2. Cotton – A cheaper alternative to leather for upholstery fabric work is cotton. As opposed to leather, cotton is a true fabric derived from the cotton plant. Usually, it’s made for everyday clothing items. But you have upholstery fabric options too. Cotton is natural, soft, breathable, durable, hypoallergenic, and cheaper.
  3. Wool – Wool wasn’t a preferred choice for upholstery until a few years ago. But with advancements in technology, wool can now be colored and treated in a range of technical ways, granting it desirable texture and weaves. Modern wool fabrics for upholstery are incredibly resilient and look luxurious. The price is higher than cotton but lower than leather.
  4. Linen – Linen is another natural fabric preferred for upholstery because it is affordable and easy to care for. Furthermore, it tends to get softer and smoother as you clean, thereby making the seating comfortable. Derived from the flax plant, it is often mixed with synthetic materials to improve the overall quality. Linen is not recommended for everyday use, nor in high-traffic areas like offices. It is only reserved for high-end showpieces.
  5. Silk – Silk has all the properties to be an ideal fabric for upholstery. It is durable, it is anti-wrinkle, and looks classic and luxurious on any piece of furniture. It retains its shape well and is available in various designs and patterns, making it a perfect natural upholstery fabric type.
  6. Chenille – What makes chenille special is that it is woven differently, which grants it durability and softness. Chenille retains heat better than other fabrics, creating a comfy feeling. It is often employed for everyday pieces, and you can also use it for your high-end sofa.
  7. Velvet – The soft and smooth velvety touch is favorite among many. It inherits its soft characteristics from silk, from which it is made. Velvet is the epitome of luxury and is most suited for high-end furniture use in bedrooms. Velvet used to be a natural-only fabric derived from silk. While you can get it today, it’s highly expensive.

Synthetic Upholstery Fabrics

  1. Faux Leather – Faux leather or artificial leather is the best alternative to real leather. Some people opt for this because of cost or moral reasons. Modern synthetic leathers are hard to distinguish from real leather and offer, more or less, the same functionalities at a much lower cost. So you can consider it for your high-end sofa for rooms.
  2. Nylon is touted as a super fiber primarily because of its strength and durability. Moreover, it’s also highly elastic, lightweight, and heat resistant. And more importantly, it’s inexpensive. Nylon fabrics for upholstery are mixed with other synthetic fabrics like acrylic or even polyester. This creates an exquisite look.
  3. Acrylic – Acrylic is an excellent choice for those who seek durability and longevity of quality. This synthetic material is less susceptible to wear and tear and can maintain its color and texture for years. Modern acrylic for upholstery is designed to mimic wool but without the itchiness. One significant disadvantage of this material is that it’s highly flammable and can burn rapidly.
  4. Microfiber – Microfiber is made from highly fine fibers, thus feeling extra soft and smooth. It is used extensively for clothing and less so for upholstery. That’s primarily because it is less durable than other synthetic fibers. But its low price tag does attract people. Thus, it’s a great low-cost option.
  5. Polyester – Polyester is one type of microfiber. It’s mostly used for active clothing worn by athletes. That’s because it has better breathability and dries quickly. On top of that, it’s hypoallergenic and easy to maintain. Polyester fabric for upholstery is thicker than for clothing and can offer a premium look.
  6. Rayon – Rayon is one of the oldest synthetic fibers. And over the years, it has fallen out of favor for both consumers and manufacturers. Today, it’s used in combination with other fabric types. But you can find a few rayon upholstery fabrics and employ them in your case. It has the same characteristics as most other microfibers.

How to Select a High-End Sofa Furniture?

Black three seat couch with ottoman

Selecting the one for your sofa furniture would depend on your preference and budget. If you have the budget and want the best-looking and most comfortable fabric, go for leather.

Leather will enhance the feel of the high-end sofa and give it the luxurious looks it needs. If you don’t want to spend much or have issues with leather, opt for synthetic leather.

It grants the same characteristics but without the hefty price tag. Other upholstery fabrics are purely your preference.

Still confused? Talk with us to learn more and discover the right upholstery fabric type for your high-end sofa.


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