How To Choose The Best Upholstery For Your Sofa

Choosing the upholstery for your sofa is an important decision. Sofas take up a large amount of space in a room, so you don't want to be stuck with an ugly pattern or fabric covered in stains, according to Clever. Before making any decisions on upholstery or even the shape of your sofa, you need to decide if you want it to be an accent piece or to fit in with the color palette of the room. This can rule out certain patterns, colors, or fabric textures. 

After you know what sofa shape and color palette you are looking for, you can think about what type of upholstery to choose from. There are a multitude of fabric options out there. Things to keep in mind are how tough you need your upholstery to be and the sorts of fabrics that make you feel the most comfortable. Certain fabrics are durable enough for homes with children and pets while others are easily stained or torn.

Children and pets

If you are furnishing a home with animals and young kids, the durability of your new sofa's upholstery will be just as important as its aesthetic features. Even if the sofa starts out beautiful, a fragile fabric will leave it looking atrocious after being left in a home with children and pets. According to Circle Furniture, these homes will benefit from an upholstery fabric that is stain resistant and has a tight weave. The color of the fabric you choose can also help keep your sofa looking good for longer. Darker fabrics will hide stains better, while neutral fabrics may not show so much fur.

Leather is a good option because spills can be easily wiped up without discoloration, but it is susceptible to scratches from cat or dog nails. Ultrasuede and microfiber hold up to every day use because they have the tight weave that will resist tearing. Crypton is another great option because the fabric is antimicrobial. It also has a liquid barrier that prevents spills from turning into stains.


Linen is made from natural fibers that are blended together with synthetic fibers when used to upholster a sofa. While it has some great pros with its comfort, its cons make linen unsuitable for everyday use. Because of a severe lack of durability, it should not be used to upholster sofas in homes where children and pets will be using them often.

Linen is a very comfortable fabric because of how smooth and soft it is. It's also antibacterial, which prevents bacteria and mildew from growing in the fabric, according to Home Stratosphere. Other positive characteristics of linen are that it doesn't pill or fade. Since it's a natural fiber, linen can be classified as an eco-friendly material. But because it is easily wrinkled and needs to be professionally cleaned, it's not a reasonable choice unless you can follow through with the upkeep it needs to continue looking nice.


Leather is the most commonly used fabric for upholstering sofas for many different reasons. It is known for looking glamorous and many people think of luxury when they inhale its scent. The best characteristic of leather is that it is easy to maintain because it's almost stain proof. Leather does not absorb liquid like other fabrics do so spills can be easily wiped clean without having to worry about staining the fabric.

A big negative with leather is that it is susceptible to scratches and other damage from sharp objects or the nails of pets. Leather also has the potential to crack open if it dries out (via Home Stratosphere). To prevent this from happening it is important to maintain a regular schedule of moisturizing the fabric with a leather conditioner. If you don't want to deal with the upkeep, leather is not a good choice. The upfront cost of a leather sofa is another potential problem with this option.


Polyester is another commonly used fabric for upholstery. It is used so much because of how comfortable and durable it is. According to Home Stratosphere, polyester is super cozy and inviting. It isn't a stain resistant fabric like leather, but polyester is easy to clean and quick to dry. Polyester sofa cushions are often safe to be cleaned in washing machines as well. Because of this it is a good fabric in homes with kids or pets, where spills are inevitable and frequent.

The flammability of polyester is its most negative characteristic. People who smoke indoors shouldn't do so near a polyester sofa and it is best to keep candles away as well. Where you plan to put your sofa can affect if polyester will work for you. If it is going to be somewhere like a sunroom, it may not be the best choice. This is because when polyester is regularly exposed to a large range of temperatures it also runs the risk of cracking.


Velvet is the most luxurious fabric you could choose when upholstering a sofa. A velvet sofa is all about the style and comfort of the fabric and decidedly not about its durability at all. Velvet is an expensive fabric that excels at bringing a touch of class and elegance to any room of your home. Often dyed intense colors like plum and emerald green, it certainly yields a high end look. Velvet fabric can also reflect light which causes your furnitures to look plusher.

The downsides of velvet are in regards to how fragile the fabric you choose ultimately is. Velvet's initially beautiful appearance will fade with everyday use and heavy traffic. According to Home Stratosphere, how thick and tightly woven the fibers are will have an impact on its life span. Finally, velvet is difficult to keep looking nice. Realistically, this choice works best when used infrequently and in formal settings.