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How to Choose Upholstery Fabric

It is essential to keep a few things in mind when choosing upholstery fabric to find the right one for your needs. The first thing you don't want is to be second-guessing your choices for the eight weeks you should be expecting to wait for many furniture companies these days to deliver your items.

You also don't want to be battling with stains, not having chosen a child-friendly fabric. Plus making a wrong color choice can completely offset your room's interior design output. So it's that being taken into account; it's worth thinking diligently about how to choose upholstery fabric before you make any crucial errors.

What Is Upholstery Fabric?

A fabric cover for furniture, typically a chair, a sofa, and other pieces that receive a lot of use, would be upholstery fabric. When it comes to upholstery, choosing a durable material is crucial since it will see a lot of use.

Upholstery fabric is typically made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool, or silk, popularized in the 18th century. However, today you can also find upholstery fabrics made from synthetic fibers, like polyester or acrylic. Upholstered furniture is upholstered with fabrics, foams, and padding.

Utilizing fabrics in the interior of furniture offers a variety of benefits regarding the way it will be used and how comfortable it will be since the interior does not have much bearing on the look of the item. It is the outer material, however, that plays a more crucial role in your room's overall design, as it contributes to the texture and feel.

Why Should You Think About It?

Although it seems simple, the upholstery within a room significantly influences the space's overall feel and appearance. In a room, the first thing anyone notices is the furniture and, more specifically, the upholstery.

Comfort and color come to the forefront of our minds when choosing upholstery, but there is much more to consider when you break it down further.

What to Consider When Choosing Upholstery Fabric

When choosing upholstery, you need to think about an array of different factors. First, consider your room's overall style and color palette when considering each aspect. Then try to combine the elements and lift the available space.


Is it durable and comfortable? What will the fabric be used for? The level of wear and tear: If your furniture sees a lot of use, you'll want a durable material that can withstand heavy usage. Natural fibers like wool or linen are good choices for high-traffic areas. If your furniture is mostly for show, you might be able to get away with delicate silk.

Comfort is an essential factor to consider too. For example, if you're choosing upholstery for a chair or sofa that you will use often, you'll want to ensure it's comfortable to sit on.

Some fabrics are better suited for specific purposes than others. For example, velvet is a luxurious fabric often used on formal furniture like sofas and chairs in living rooms. However, it's not the best choice for a family room where children and pets might be present since it's not as durable or stain-resilient.


Whether it's functional or not, if it's not the right color and doesn't fit in with your current interior design, it won't matter how good the fabric quality or how well it's constructed. In addition, the color of your upholstery will significantly impact your room's overall look and feel, so it's essential to choose wisely.

If you want your room to have a more formal feel, opt for darker, richer colors like burgundy or chocolate brown. Generally, darker colors are more stain resilient too. On the other hand, lighter colors like beige or ivory might be worth considering if you're going for a more relaxed vibe and don't expect your pet dog to jump on it with muddy paws.

Your Style

Your style will play a significant role in choosing upholstery fabric. Do you prefer a more traditional look? A more modern aesthetic? Or something in between? What are the overall design aspects of your current interior? Maybe you need to keep in line with the contemporary minimalistic look you've been going for throughout the house. Or even stay in line with your art deco-themed kitchen.

There are endless possibilities regarding upholstery fabric type and color, so take some time to browse through different options and find something that fits your taste. It's good to get some samples in terms of colors and materials to put them in your space and see how they fit in with the room vibes.

Type of Fabric

Consider the type of fabric. Various kinds of upholstery fabrics are available on the market, so it's essential to consider what material will suit your needs best.

For example, if you're looking for a durable fabric that can withstand a lot of wear and tear, then polyester or nylon might be a good option. However, silk or velvet might be better suited if you want a more luxurious feel.


Your comfort level plays a significant role in your chosen fabric. You should deeply consider the texture and how it feels on the skin. Are you going to be sitting on this bit of furniture, watching TV for hours every night? A rough fiber that isn't smooth on the skin won't be too comfortable.

But then again, you might need to couch for the kid's room where they will be jumping all over it, and texture doesn't need to be taken into too much account. Think about daily uses and consider this when looking at the material's texture.

Special Considerations

A few things aren't usually taken into account when picking upholstery.

Inside Or Outside

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to use the furniture outside, ensure the fabric can withstand the elements. The sun will cause fading and discoloration over time, so if this is something you're worried about, then make sure to pick a fabric with good resistance to sunlight.

Sun Exposure

Sun exposure outside is one thing, but if your fabric is going to be in constant sunlight through the window, then again, you need to consider this. Certain materials will discolor over time when in direct sunlight, so make sure this is something that won't happen if the above is the case.


Pets can do a lot of damage to the upholstery. They can scratch, bite, and put lots of other marks on the furniture, which can cause all sorts of problems. If you have pets, make sure to pick a fabric that is resistant to their nails and teeth and easy to clean in case of accidents.


If you or anyone in the family suffers from allergies, then make sure to pick a fabric that won't aggravate them. Wool is a good option as it is naturally hypoallergenic, but there are other materials out there that are good for people with allergies, so make sure to do your research.

Types of Upholstery Fabric

When choosing upholstery fabric, you must recognize the various options you have. For starters, you'll need to consider whether you prefer natural or synthetic upholstery fabric.

Natural Upholstery Fabric Options

Natural fibers make up a good amount of upholstery options. Although generally more expensive and difficult to clean, natural upholstery tends to be softer than synthetic alternatives.


Cotton is a sustainable natural fiber derived from the cotton plant. It has good resistance to pilling, wear, and fading but isn't so significant in stains, stretching, and fire. You can get cotton blends to decrease these weaknesses, though. In addition, the weave and finish are highly correlated with the durability of the cotton. A couple of weaves to check out our damask (a traditional weave) and more casual canvas.

Cotton Blend

Depending on the blend, these are generally more family-friendly and stain-resilient. The durability of the cotton goes up with most combinations, but sometimes you may compromise the overall formality. But, again, it just depends on what the use of the furniture is for and what environment it will be within.


Leather is the non-vegan approach to upholstery. Leather is highly durable and stain-resistant, plus it looks great. Most certainly not for those who don't enjoy killing cows. For the leather look without using animals, look at polyurethane leathers, available in vegan versions today.


Linen wrinkles easily and isn't highly durable. Therefore, it is best kept in kid-free houses and used in formal living rooms. However, it resists pilling and fading well and gives a nice overall feel to the skin.


Silk is a delicate fabric, best kept for adults. It needs to be professionally cleaned if soiled and isn't very durable. This fabric should be saved for formal rooms.


Wool is a sustainable and biodegradable natural fiber derived from sheep. It is durable and easy to clean but can be expensive. It is also not very susceptible to pilling, stretching, and staining. Wool blends can be even better too.

Synthetic Upholstery Fabric Options

Natural fibers are not your only option. You can also find upholstery that is made from synthetic fibers. This option tends to be the less expensive option and easier to keep clean. However, synthetic fibers tend not to be as soft as natural options.


Acetate is a synthetic fiber made from wood pulp. It is strong, durable, and easy to clean, plus it can withstand pilling, stretching, and fading quite well. However, it can only offer modest resistance to stains and tends to wrinkle when in continuous sunlight over time.


Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made from coal and petroleum. It is lightweight, soft, and easy to care for but can be less durable and may pill over time.


With a velvet-like texture, this fabric highly imitates a luxurious feel with more durability than its natural counterpart. In addition, it resists stains well, isn't susceptible to fading, and is excellent for high-use areas.


Nylon is often blended with other materials to make it extremely strong and durable. In addition, it doesn't take soil and wrinkle easily. Great for family homes that see a lot of traffic.


Olefin is a manufactured fiber made from polypropylene. Again - like many synthetic fibers - it is durable and will happily receive high usage without any changes in exterior looks. It resists stains, mildew, sunlight, and abrasion. This one is often used in the garden.


A versatile and affordable synthetic fiber, polyester is often used in a blend with other materials. It is durable, easy to care for, and resistant to stretching and shrinking. However, it can be susceptible to pilling and may fade over time when exposed to continuous sunlight.


Rayon was developed as a silk alternative trying to counteract the negatives of silk, all while providing that smooth, luxurious feel silk is famous for. In addition, it's durable and doesn't wrinkle, so it's a fiber worth considering.


Vinyl is a plastic-coated fabric that is durable and easy to clean, making it ideal for busy family homes. However, it can be less comfortable and may crack or peel over time.

Need A Professional?

The Hauss is here to lend a helping hand if you're worried about what upholstery fiber will best fit your needs. We offer a unique E-Design service where you can get in touch with one of our team of expert interior designers who will be more than happy to help you make the right decision for your home.

Check out our E-Design services here and discover all the benefits of hiring a personal interior designer without the high costs. Best of all, you can do it all right from the comfort of your own home.

Our Shop

So, before you go fabric shopping, keep the following in mind: what is your budget, what style are you going for, and most importantly, how much use will the furniture get? With that knowledge, finding the perfect upholstery fabric should be a breeze.

And if you're looking for some help making your final decision, we've got plenty of beautiful fabrics to choose from at our online store.

Have fun picking out your new furniture's upholstery!

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