Not all car upholstery fabric is created equal. Some fabrics may look fantastic at first, but then become weathered and dingy with time. Since your cars upholstery is subjected to extreme temperatures and sunlight, you shouldn't just expect to use the same fabric as your couch. Here are some of the best materials to use in your car, and what you should watch for.
Leather is an extremely durable material. When used correctly as upholstery it can provide you with a stylish and comfortable ride. Leather upholstery will require basic maintenance to keep it looking great. Leather can crack and peel in high temperatures. To avoid this you need to condition the leather periodically. You can find conditioners for your car at any auto parts store. Leather is easy to clean, and will endure rough treatment. It also tends to stay cool even in hot weather. It may cost a little more to use leather, but it can last a lifetime when treated well.
Vinyl has been a popular upholstery choice in vehicles for many years. While vinyl is cheap, and can look great for a period of time, it's not the most durable material for use in a car. Vinyl will crack and tear with exposure to high temperatures. It can also become loose with lots of use, and the sun can cause it to shrink. Vinyl can also be very cold to sit on in low temperatures, and uncomfortably hot during the summer. One of the positive sides of vinyl is it's easy to patch and repair. It's also extremely easy to clean. If you have small children, vinyl may be a good option.
Broadcloth is a wool blend that is a heavy weight material. This is popular for cars when you want a standard upholstered look. It will withstand extreme temperatures, and is comfortable to sit on in all climates. Broadcloth is easy to clean, and can simply be vacuumed to keep it looking fresh. It's not the best material for stains, as it tends to show stains easily. Cleaning stains or spills will require steaming. Since this is a wool blend, you can find it in thousands of colors. The lighter colors will be safer in the sun and won't show signs of sun bleach as easily as the darker colors.
Velour isn't seen often as a standard upholstery material in cars, but many seat covers are made of the material. Velour is generally made from a cotton/polyester blend. This makes it quite durable, and comfortable. Velour is hard to clean. Since it is a plush material, dirt tends to get trapped in the fabric. This can lead to a dingy look over time. A vacuum with a brush attachment can be used to clean up loose dirt. If a spill happens, it needs to be attended to immediately to prevent the plush aspect of the material from getting matted.
You will have almost unlimited choices in materials when you are looking for car upholstery. You want to consider how easy it is to clean, how long it will last, and how comfortable it will be before you decide on one.