Furniture Fabrics

Whether you are buying furniture or having a sofa reupholstered, it's good to have an understanding of the fabric used. The variety of furniture fabrics can be overwhelming. Let's simplify!

Furniture fabrics can be broadly classified under natural or synthetic. Natural fabrics tend to be more comfortable against your skin but are commonly costlier and less durable than synthetics. There are also fabric blends of natural and synthetic fibres, such as the cotton-polyester blend, which combines certain strengths of the constituent fibres. Here's a rundown.

Natural Fabrics


One of the most popular natural fabrics for upholstery is leather. Even though it tends to be more expensive than other types of furniture fabric, it is very durable and can last a good number of years. In addition, it brings a distinct elegance and flair that cannot be easily achieved using another material. Click here for more information on leather furniture.



Wool comes from sheep fleece and is not only durable and beautiful, but resilient as well. This fabric provides more warmth than most other furniture fabrics, and is a great fabric to be used in cool places.



Linen is a durable and strong furniture fabric, hypo-allergenic and comes in a wide variety of patterns and colours. However, unlike other types of furniture fabric, linen stains and wrinkles easily.



Silk is a beautiful and luxurious fabric. It keeps you warm in the cold and cool when it's hot. Silk, in the past, is only reserved for the emperors of China and is one of the strongest natural fabrics in the world.



If you are looking for a comfortable fabric for your sofa, cotton is a great choice. This natural plant fabric has been widely used for centuries. Cotton furniture fabrics are also easy to wash, hypo-allergenic and durable.



Ramie is made from the ramie plant. It is resistant to wrinkles, stronger than linen and cotton, but not as durable.



Due to its softness and low maintenance properties, microfibre has become one of the most commonly used synthetic fabrics in upholstery. This synthetic fabric is durable, soft, affordable, stain resistant and easy to clean. Microfibre furniture fabric is commonly made from polyester.



If you are looking for a synthetic alternative to leather, give some thought to vinyl. This synthetic fabric, not only looks similar to leather, it is affordable and easy to clean as well. It lags behind leather in terms of comfort however.



Polyester is actually a category of polymers but when it comes to fabrics, polyester is synonymous to polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is durable, retains colours well and is resistant to wrinkling. Some people may find this fabric "unnatural" against their skins.



If you have pets roaming around your indoor space, acrylic fabric furniture is a great choice. Not only are acrylic fabrics strong, durable, quick to dry and insect resistant, they come in various patterns and colours.



Nylon is the first ever synthetic fibre produced for upholstery. This synthetic fabric is resilient and easy to clean. Its abrasion resistance is also excellent. However, unless the fabric has undergone treatment for sunlight resistance, nylon will fade over time when exposed in direct sunlight.



Olefin is one of the newer developed synthetic fabrics for upholstery. This synthetic fabric is inexpensive and easy to clean. In addition, it is resistant to chemicals, abrasion, mildew and water-based stains. Flip side of olefin includes poor resistance to oil-based stains and a low melting point — olefin fabrics should not be ironed at temperatures above 100°C.



Rayon furniture fabrics are versatile and have the same comfort properties that natural fabrics possess. They are cool, soft, smooth and absorbent. However, rayon fabrics may shrink and stretch when exposed to water and other liquids.