Buying a new sofa: Leather vs Fabric Sofa, (Pros and Cons) which is best?

Buying a new sofa is a big investment, it’s the focal point of many people’s living space so it is not a decision you want to get wrong.

It is easy enough to go around all the sofa stores trying out the cushions, imagining how they would feel during your late-night TV binges. But when it comes to knowing what you’re actually looking for in your sofa and material, it can be confusing.

But not to worry, we are here with an easy to digest guide to help you way weigh up what kind of sofa is best for you – leather or fabric?

Leather Sofas


Buying a New Sofa: Pros of Buying a Leather Sofa:
1. Longevity of a leather sofa

Leather sofas tend to have a longer lifespan than fabric sofas. This is because it tends to be more durable to withstand wear and tear, making it the perfect investment if you have young children.

The strong nature of the material means it withstands fading or fraying and will still look new even decades down the line.

2. Easy to maintain


A plus point for Leather sofas are that they are so easy to maintain, it is usually just a matter of wiping the sofa down with a cloth.  As for stains as long as you treat the area quickly, its natural properties act as a barrier preventing long term stain damage.

If you have young kids or messy eaters leaving crumbs everywhere they go, then a leather sofa can be ideal as you simply have to brush off the crumbs instead of them getting ingrained in the fabric of your sofa.  

Many people choose to buy a care kit with their leather sofa, (typically a cloth and protection cream), that treats and feeds the natural material to keep it looking its best. This is a five minute job and only needs done every so often.  

3. Better for Allergies

Leather sofas are great for anyone with allergies as they don’t trap dust mites, pet hair or other allergens in the same way fabric sofas do. The strong material stops dust from settling into the cushions, unlike fabric sofas, which means you are not breathing it in every time you snuggle down to watch TV.

If you have allergies or Asthma in your family, you want to make it as easy as possible to avoid reactions. If you’re not wanting to hoover your sofa every day, then a leather sofa that is easy to wipe down could be your best option.  

4. Leather is a natural material


Leather isn’t a synthetic material, it is made from the curing of animal hides, more commonly known at tanning.  As a natural product, leather will retain its original markings, making every piece completely unique.

Due to its natural properties you will also find that the leather becomes softer and more supple over time; therefore it is no wonder so many people refuse to replace their beloved leather sofa even decades down the line.


Buying a new sofa: Cons of buying a Leather Sofa
 1. Cost

A quick google will tell you that leather sofas tend to be more expensive as a general rule. However there are different grades of leather to consider from full grain, top grain and split grain leather, each of which have different price points reflecting the post-tanning treatment, quality and feel of the material. If you like the appearance but not the price point there is a choice of faux leather available but it will not provide you with the same quality or durability of an authentic leather sofa.   

2. Lack of variety

When you think about a leather sofa we traditionally think of a fairly basic block colour palette; black, white and brown colours.  While they do come in other colours, they are certainly harder to come across than a fabric sofa, particularly when you consider patterns.

This can make it harder to find a unique sofa but on the other hand, people tend to buy them as investment pieces redecorating the room around them over time; in which case, a more neutral colouring is often preferred.

3. Leather sofas can be scratched fairly easily.


Leather sofas can be easily scratched so it is worthwhile reflecting on potential hazards that it could face on a daily basis. If you have pets that like to climb on furniture, going leather might scare you a little.

As mentioned earlier, many scratches can be buffed out, but you could always view them as part of its natural ageing or position a throw in place as a protective layer.  

Related link : How to pet proof your home with style

4.  Your skin sticking to the leather sofa


We all know that feeling of getting in or out of a sweaty leather car seat on a hot summer’s day, not the feeling you want when you are in your own home. While our homes don’t tend to get that sort of sun exposure, it is worth remembering that skin does stick to leather. For most people this isn’t a problem, however if you are considering the sofa for a conservatory or sun room we’d suggest considering how comfortable it would be on a hot summer’s day.

At the opposite end of the year, leather also retains the cold, meaning that it can have a bit of a chill when you first sit on it in winter. If you have a house that is fairly consistent in temperature this shouldn’t affect you much- but one to think about!  

Tip: Use a throw in summer to stop the ‘peeling off’ effect! 

Fabric Sofas


Buying a new sofa:  Pros of buying a Fabric Sofa
1. Large variety of sofas 

Sofa-colour-optionsFabric sofa’s come in a huge variety of style, colour, patterns and fabric which can make it easier to find one which suits your home and interior style. Often people will find a sofa that they love and then use that as the focal point to build their room style around.

Half the problem can be there is too much choice! Worthwhile, pinning down the room style and colours down that you are looking for before you go shopping to help narrow down your short list!

Related content : Best UK interior Design Magazines  

2. Cost savings

Fabric sofas tend to be less expensive than leather sofas, which can make them a good choice when you are on a budget. If you have a young family, you may feel like there’s no point in paying an arm and a leg for a sofa that will probably get wrecked in a few years, so going for a fabric sofa can feel easier on the pocket.

3. Comfort level


Fabric sofas are viewed generally as being more inviting and comfortable than leather. As mentioned earlier, leather adjusts to temperature whereas fabric has a consistent warm feel to it.  Fabric also tends to feel soft to touch from the start, and doesn’t need to broken in which can be the case for some leather sofas. Fabric sofas are fairly easy to keep in shape, plumping cushions back into shape. The design of some leather sofas, often prevents this meaning that they can look a bit misshapen if enough support isn’t built in.

Related Link : Foam vs fibre sofas and chairs 

3. Washable seat covers  

Although Fabric sofas do tend to suck up anything that is spilled on them, many of them come with removable covers which you can shove into the washing machine when they need a wash.  Some fabrics may require a professional clean; but either way this can be a reassuring backup for getting rid of dirty marks or even just to give them a spring clean!

Buying a new sofa: Cons of having a Fabric Sofa
1. Traps Dirt and Dust


A fabric sofa is more likely to trap dust and dirt with a simple brush off ingraining them further into the material or design features.

This can result in the sofa looking untidy if it is not hoovered regularly and no matter how often you spend shaking out the cushions, the trapped dust will affect those with allergies more than a leather sofa.  

2. Tend to stain easily 

Fabric sofas aren’t stain resistant, unless treated and therefore tend to soak up anything spilled on them. There are upholstery cleaning products out there, but the panic that usually descends when it doesn’t work as effectively as you’d hoped is gutting. If there is a high risk of this in your house, we’d recommend picking a patterned or camouflaging colour to help minimise the visual impact if it does happen.  

3. A Fabric Sofa can retain bad smells

After getting into comfy clothes, grabbing the popcorn and getting ready to settle down for movie night, the last thing anyone wants to discover is that their lovely sofa still smells of the curry from three days prior!

Now while that seems like an extreme case, fabric sofas are more susceptible to soaking up pungent scents than a leather equivalent. Therefore, if you smoke or have an open plan living space where strong-smelling foods could linger it is definitely worth factoring it into your decision- making.

4. Pulling of threads


Fabric sofas tend not to mark as easily as leather fabric, so you don’t have to worry so much about the scratches with your little ones or pets.  However, if you have cats that like to scratch, they can shred a fabric sofas pretty easily pulling on the closed thread loops.

A tip would be to find a fabric that doesn’t have threads for them to pull at, for example velvet seems to be less appealing to cats and they can’t pull at it in the same way they would with a weave fabric.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: Which is Best?

If you are looking to make an investment in a sofa that will stand the test of time, opting for a leather sofa could benefit you in the long run. However, if you need to purchase a sofa on a budget or are looking for a sofa that will stand out against your décor, opting for a fabric sofa may be your best bet due to the vast range on offer.

We’ve ran polls on social media in the past and its seems people are in one camp or the other; whether that be because of practicalities or style.  

Both sofas have their own pro’s and con’s, so the final decision comes down to your own personal preferences. It’s important to do your research, consider what are the key factors for you and try out as many sofas as you can!!




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