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Leather Vs. Fabric Sofas: Which is Best?

Leather vs. Fabric Sofas: Which Material is Best?

When investing in a new chair or sofa, it’s important to find the right piece of furniture for you and your lifestyle. So, you need to consider the size to ensure you have the correct posture, the shape to ensure exceptional comfort, and the style to ensure the new piece matches your existing décor. Plus, you need to decide whether you want leather or fabric.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Don’t worry, as chair and sofa specialists, we’re here to help with our leather vs. fabric sofa guide, so you can choose the one that’s best for you.

Leather advantages

Leather disadvantages

Firm and supportive Some say it’s not as comfortable
Looks sophisticated and luxurious Can get scratched
Easy to wipe clean and dust Not great for those with pets
Durable and resilient More sensitive to temperature changes
Will not lose colour or fade
Not susceptible to dust mites and allergens


Fabric advantages

Fabric disadvantages

Tends to be more comfortable and cosy feeling Can be more difficult to clean
Light spills and marks come out easily Will fade in direct sunlight
Often available in more colours Can absorb strong smells
Usually cheaper than leather



Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fabric or leather chairs in more detail…

1. Comfort

Firstly, it is important to say that here at HSL, both our leather and fabric sofas and chairs are comfortable; it’s what we pride ourselves on! However, when it comes to comfort, it’s important to know exactly what you want from your chair. Some people absolutely love the sinking, cosy feeling that comes with fabric furniture, whilst others prefer the firm, supportive nature of leather when they sit down for a long time.

Having said this, if we had to decide between fabric or leather chairs solely on comfort then we would say that fabric triumphs – but everyone is different.

2. Maintenance and cleaning

When it comes to leather vs. fabric, another important factor to consider is maintenance and durability. Fabric chairs have a lifespan, but this shouldn’t matter too much if the chair is made from good-quality materials.

Most spills can come out of a fabric chair with the correct care and attention, but sometimes a tough mark will prove hard to get rid of and leave a stain. Fabric can also absorb strong smells like cigarette smoke and food, which can require professional cleaning to remove.

Leather is generally much easier to clean, where only light dusting is required and spills can almost always be wiped away with minimal effort. However, leather furniture is more susceptible to scratches and humidity than its fabric counterparts, so, may not be the best option if you have pets. Read our furniture care guide for more information on keeping your chairs and sofas looking their best.

3. Style

It goes without saying that if you’re buying a chair or sofa, you want it to be comfortable but also stylish!

A sleek leather chair gives a space a touch of elegance and sophistication. Leather is an extremely robust material that actually gets better with age; areas that look worn can add character, so it’s a great choice if luxury is top of your list.

However, fabrics are usually available in a wider range of colours and patterns, and as such can be more adaptable to your existing décor. We believe that fabrics are the best choice if you have a certain colour scheme around the house but if you have a more neutral theme, then leather might be your preferred option.

4. Budget

You can’t really put a price on a fantastic, handcrafted piece of furniture, but if cost is a consideration, then it will be important to assess the model that best suits your needs. Once established, fabrics are normally cheaper than leathers. Therefore, if you have a smaller budget, fabric is usually the best option.

5. Safety

Safety might not be something you initially consider when deciding whether to buy a leather or fabric sofa or chair, but if you suffer from allergies, fabric tends to absorb more allergens and dust mites, meaning that leather is the best option for you. Similarly, leather’s high shine can sometimes be a little slippy, so if you’re concerned about getting in and out of your sofa or chair safely, fabric might be a better option.

6. Sunlight and temperature

When left in the sun, fabric can fade and change colour, so be mindful of where you position your chair or sofa at home. For light spaces with direct sunlight, leather is the best option as it will retain its colour regardless.

However, if a leather sofa or chair is left in sunlight for any significant amount of time it will heat up and you should be careful when sitting on it. Equally, during the winter, leather can absorb the cold, which can be a little unpleasant to sit on! By contrast, fabric furniture is less susceptible to temperature changes.

We hope that this has helped you to choose between leather or fabric sofas and chairs. There are pros and cons for each, so ultimately it depends on what you are looking for in your furniture.

HSL offers hundreds of fabric and leather options so you can find the one that’s perfect for you. We ensure that all of our products promote good posture. Our in-store Comfort Specialists have been trained by our Occupational Therapist, Julie Jennings, Dip COT HCPC, to conduct a unique 7-Point Seating Assessment™ before advising you on the right CleverComfort™ designed chair, sofa or bed.

Tested. Trusted. Recommended.

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