Whether you are looking for a new furniture piece to add to your home or are hoping to reupholster an existing item, the fabric type that you choose can make a big difference in the appearance and durability of your item. There are a variety of fabric types to choose from, and by better understanding your options, you can choose the one that best meets the needs of you, your furniture piece, and your family.

Leather is a popular upholstery fabric
Leather is a popular upholstery fabric

What Are Popular Upholstery Materials?

Leather Upholstery

leather upholstery
leather upholstery

If you are looking for a natural upholstery fabric, there is one option that stands apart from the rest: leather. Choosing to purchase a leather sofa or love seat is a great long-term investment, as it tends to be resistant to stains and spills. It is even a good option for homes with pets and children, as distressed leather is especially good at hiding scratches, which will blend right in. If you have a leather furniture item that is in need of repair, a professional that specializes in the upholstery of custom made sofas can replace or repair the fabric. This will further extend the life of the piece while protecting your investment.

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Wool Upholstery

Wool Upholstery
Wool Upholstery

Wool and wool blends are a popular upholstery fabric because of their superior resistance to soil, wrinkling, and fading. For a natural fabric, wool is quite durable and sturdy, and it will typically be blended with synthetic fibers to make it easier to keep clean. Blends can be spot-cleaned when needed, and they will also reduce the chances of felting the fibers.

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Acrylic Upholstery

Acrylic Fabric
Acrylic Fabric

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that feels quite similar to wool, and it is a popular upholstery fabric option because it is inexpensive and easy to care for. Acrylic resists stains quite well and is good at retaining its color. While it is harder to clean than natural fabrics like wool, it does have great sun-resistant qualities that just can’t be achieved with natural fabrics. Acrylic is often blended along with natural fabrics in order to give upholstery some added durability.

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Cotton Upholstery

Natural Cotton
Natural Cotton

Cotton is a natural fiber that provides good resistance to fading and wear. However, it is important to choose 100% cotton, as blends that contain other fibers tend to be less resistant to wrinkling, soil, or fire. According to HGTV.com, cotton is an especially good upholstery option for its breathability factor, as this can enhance the comfort of the furniture. This makes cotton upholstery a great addition to a family or living room where people will be seated for an extended period of time.
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Polyester Upholstery

Polyester Material
Polyester Material

Polyester is another popular synthetic fiber used in upholstery, although it is rarely used alone. Instead, it tends to be blended with other natural or synthetic fibers in order to add wrinkle resistance and to reduce fading. It is not recommended for blending with wool when it comes to use on furniture because it can aggravate problems with pilling. Otherwise, it is a strong option that can stand up well to daily use when placed on a sofa.
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Silk Upholstery

Silk Upholstery
Silk Upholstery

Silk is a delicate, natural fabric that is best suited for formal living rooms and other adult areas. Benefits of using silk in upholstery include the fact that it is available in a wide variety of patterns and colors, and it will retain its shape well. It is also available in a variety of weights, ranging from light-handed all the way up to heavy raw silk. While silk sometimes gets a bad reputation because it is susceptible to sun damage, as long as you don’t overexpose it to the outdoor elements and natural light, it can be a great investment.
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Rayon Upholstery

Rayon Fabric
Rayon Fabric

Rayon is made out of wood chip fibers, making it an inexpensive fabric that is best suited for upholstery purposes when it has been blended with other fibers. It was developed to serve as an imitation to other popular upholstery fabric types like silk, cotton, and linen. Rayon is comfortable and resistant to mildew and moths, but it does wrinkle quite easily. Unfortunately, rayon doesn’t have a high resistance to abrasions, and if not treated, it can be highly flammable. However, more recent developments have created a brand of rayon that is of a greater quality and is much more practical for interior use.
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Linen Upholstery

Linen Upholstery
Linen Upholstery

Linen is an extremely popular upholstery fabric type, despite the fact that it does have some major weaknesses. This fabric can wrinkle and soil easily, and it doesn’t stand up to heavy wear easily, so design professionals recommend its use in adult areas or in a formal living room. Soiled upholstery will also need to be cleaned by a professional in order to avoid shrinking the material. However, linen does tend to be quite affordable and is fairly resistant to fading and pilling.
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Olefin Upholstery

Olefin Fabric
Olefin Fabric

Olefin is another synthetic fiber, and its major advantage is the fact that it is extremely durable. Olefin has no major weakness and is a great choice for furniture pieces that are expected to be put through heavy wear. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get high marks for style, so many people don’t feel that it is a good option for upholstered items that will be found indoors.
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Acetate Upholstery

Acetate Fabric
Acetate Fabric

Acetate is a synthetic fiber that was created to imitate silk. It is long-wearing, rarely pills, and doesn’t wrinkle easily. While it can withstand mildew, it is only semi-resistant to soil. It is not a good pick for furniture that will go through tough everyday use, such as your living room sofa or the loveseat in your family room. However, if you like the look of acetate and are trying to find a use for it in your home, it makes for great window treatments because of its qualities in wrinkle-resistant draping.
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Remember that even the most durable of fabrics will break down without proper care and maintenance. Be sure that you are vacuuming your furniture at least once per month, and consider applying stain-resistant treatments. As always, if you need bigger repairs or fixes, be sure to contact a local furniture repair professional for assistance.