The 10 Most Popular Upholstery Fabrics

Different upholstery fabrics offer particular strengths and carry certain weaknesses. Your choice of upholstery fabric depends on several conditions, such as the intended use and location of the furniture, your budget, the ambiance in the room and the amount of time you are willing to spend on maintenance and care. Some of the most popular upholstery fabrics include cotton, wool, leather, nylon, polyester, olefin, vinyl, acrylic, silk and microfiber.


Cotton is a natural fiber that has been used in fabrics for ages. It is soft, durable and easy to maintain. Cotton upholstery fabrics are available in numerous colors and designs. Some of cotton's drawbacks include the following: It is not fade resistant, it wrinkles with use and it is highly flammable.


Made from sheep fur, wool is another popular natural fiber used in upholstery fabric. It is widely preferred in colder climates because of the soft, warm feel it provides. Woolen upholstery, however, is not easy to clean and can also fade if continually exposed to sunlight. It can also attract moths, which can damage the fabric.


Leather is manufactured from animal hide. It is probably the most popular and sought-after upholstery material because it is durable and stylish. It also looks better with age. But leather carries a high price and high cost of repairs.


Nylon is a synthetic fiber, preferred for its durability and attractiveness. Nylon upholstery fabrics resist stains to a large extent and can be cleaned easily. However, they can fade with sun exposure.


Polyester often appears in fabric blends in upholstery. It is highly durable and resistant to mildew, moths and stains. Polyester is also easy to clean and maintain.


Olefin is another synthetic fiber that is renowned for its durability. Like many of the other synthetic fibers, it is easy to care for because it is stain-resistant and comfortable and also resists mildew and insect attack. It is easy on the budget.


Vinyl is popular because of its affordability. It can imitate leather in look and feel, but vinyl is not as durable as leather. It is also affected by the surrounding temperature, making vinyl uncomfortable in very cold or warm climates. This material tends to show cracks and damage over time.


Acrylic provides the look and feel of wool. It is less expensive as compared to wool and is also easier to clean and maintain. It resists fading in sunlight as well. However, it does not last as long as wool.


Silk upholstery fabrics offer a luxurious look that is often appropriate for formal settings. Silk requires a lot of care and protection from stains or spills. Professional cleaning may maintain its longevity.


Microfiber is a synthetic fiber that is greatly rising in popularity as an upholstery fabric. Made of polyester, nylon or a blend of both, microfiber upholstery fabrics are forgiving, long-lasting and easy to clean. Microfiber also provides a soft, comfortable feel.