Leather or Fabric?
Posted on August 06 2020
Making the right decision when purchasing a sofa is crucial, given that they are one of the largest and most used items of furniture. Everyone you talk to about it will have their own opinion, but it is important that you make the right decision based on your own circumstances. Other than size and style, deciding between leather or fabric will be key. So how do you know what is right for you? We have put together some considerations you should take into account with the four ‘Cs’ of choosing a sofa: care, comfort, colour and cost
Leather is obviously easier to clean as most spills can be taken care of with a damp cloth. This gives you peace of mind if young children (or sloppy adults) are using the sofa frequently. It is possible to clean spills off fabric sofas, but will often require soap, water and possibly upholstery cleaners.
In terms of maintenance, it is ideal to regularly use a leather conditioner to keep your leather sofa in tip-top shape and to prolong the life of the sofa. This won’t be required for a fabric sofa. However, if you have a pet who sheds a lot, then vacuuming a fabric sofa can become a big task. Pet hair will be less of a problem with a leather sofa, however if your pet scratches and frequently sits on the sofa, claw marks will quickly become very obvious and not much can be done about that.
A fabric sofa will be cosy and comfortable right from the day it arrives. This is not always true for leather couches which may take some time to ‘wear in’. Also leather couches will be colder to sit on in winter (but they do warm up after a few minutes) and can be kind of sticky in summer if you don’t have good cooling.
It is more likely for a fabric sofa to get out of shape or sag sooner than a leather couch, which can affect the comfort of the sofa.
There are plenty of options when it comes to the colour of leather you can get. While dark browns and other neutral tones are very popular it is possible to get leather sofas in almost any solid colour you want. While cream and ecru coloured leather couches can be cleaned, white leather can be more difficult and would not be well suited to a high use situation.
With fabric there are almost unlimited options for colour and pattern of fabric. Also with fabric there are a variety of textures you can consider, from course to smooth. If you have a very specific colour scheme, you will probably find it easier to find a match in fabric.
The same style and size of sofa will cost more in leather than in fabric. The difference can be quite significant depending on the quality of leather. This fact can make the decision difficult because you might want the benefits of a leather sofa but choosing the more expensive option for high frequency family use (ie. guaranteed spills) can complicate things.
So while a fabric sofa is the cheaper option, it is also more likely to wear out, fade and need replacing sooner than a leather one (build quality being equal). If you move often or your needs are likely to change sooner, then this might not be a consideration. However if you are looking to buy one sofa and plan on using it for years, even decades, remember it’s likely a leather sofa will hold its original appearance longer. Meaning that if you end up needing a different sofa sooner, a leather sofa will be easier to sell.
If you are really serious, you might want to consider the cost per use value of leather sofas versus fabric ones. Using your current sofa habits as a basis, estimate how often your sofa gets used. Then divide the cost of the sofa by the number of estimated uses; the lower the figure the better value the sofa. (Click here for an easy online calculator.)