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Home/Mor Furniture Blog/Buying Guides/Leather vs. Fabric Sofas: Which One Is Right For You?

Leather vs. Fabric Sofas: Which One Is Right For You?

Deciding between leather vs fabric sofas is crucial when furnishing your living room or den. Each type of fabric has its pros and cons, with unique benefits of both. They provide different aesthetics and styles to a space, and have different maintenance needs, cleaning techniques, and different levels of durability. Picking the right option between leather vs fabric sofas can make or break the look and feel of your home–not every material meets the needs of every family.

We're here to break it down for you, empowering you to be an educated shopper. You can buy with confidence, knowing exactly what to expect from the different sofa materials. You'll have no surprises and no disappointments, just furniture that looks picture perfect, with the ultimate comfort, and the features your family requires.

Mor Furniture for Less stocks a wide array of leather and fabric sofas to suit every taste. We carry loveseats and accent chairs, sofa and couch sets, large sectionals, accent chairs, and recliners, so you can furniture your entire living room with ease. You'll find a variety of colors, extra features that make life a little easier, and of course, get the best pricing in town with our double-the-difference guarantee*.

Keep reading to learn more about leather vs fabric sofas so you can bring home the best new pieces today. And be sure to check out pieces from our collection, pin them to your board, and use each style as inspiration throughout your journey of new interior design.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: An Overview

Leather and fabric sofas serve the same purpose. They're fashionable statement pieces in a living room or den that pose as the prime point of functionality in the space. What's a living room without a comfortable place to sit? Sofas of all materials invite the kids to gather, guests to stay and talk a while, and offer prime viewing of entertainment consoles as you binge-watch your favorite series or watch major networks on game day.

But when it comes down to it, there are crucial differences between the two types that you should be aware of. These differences can make or break your decision on which to buy, and it's essential to pay attention to the needs, quality, care instructions, and benefits of each. Keep reading to learn more.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: The Differences

How can two pieces of seating be so different? The answer lies in the material. On a fundamental level, leather and fabric are nothing alike. You'll find differences in the source material, cleaning and maintenance process, and variety of pieces.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: Material

Leather is a naturally occurring material that's originally found in nature and then manipulated by man into a workable form. It's generally made from animal hides–most commonly cowhide. However, you may find pieces that include goat hide, buffalo hide, or even more exotic types like snake or alligator.

On the other hand, fabric upholstery is made from yarn or thread. It's either woven or knit into a large textile or swatch from which patterns are cut. The most common forms of fabric in furniture construction include cotton, linen, wool, hemp, polyester, polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, and rayon. These fabrics are thicker, heavier, and stiffer than clothing material, designed to withstand the heavy wear and tear that comes with everyday use.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: Cleaning and Maintenance

Leather is famous for its very specific cleaning and maintenance protocols, whereas fabric sofas require less attention. If you're looking for a piece that you can place and "forget," then fabric is the way to go. Furniture leather is coated and sealed, which does make it easy to wipe off minor spills–but since the material is more absorbent, it's also not stain resistant.

However, leather sofas and sectionals require maintenance. To avoid drying, cracking, and splitting, you'll need to use a special cleaner and conditioner every six to twelve months on the entirety of the pieces. Without this care, the sofas will wear down quickly, requiring replacement. If you're short on time or don't wish to invest in this regular process, leather furniture may not be for you.

Alternately, fabric sofas don't require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. There are no special cleaners or applications, and they don't crack or split since the upholstery is woven tightly. However, fabric sofas are still susceptible to spills and stains. You can spot clean them with a fabric cleaner as needed, or, if the cushions come with removable coverings, you may be able to wash them in the machine.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: Variety

The world of furniture is vast. You'll find endless options to choose from, no matter what type of piece you're looking for. However, there are limitations with certain materials. Leather, due to its natural composition, is a little more challenging to color or pattern. You're unlikely to find leather sofas or sectionals with stripes, checkers, chevrons, or animal prints. The colors may also be more restricted–common leather sofa colors include shades of tan and beige, cream, or black. You may find a navy blue here and there.

Fabric sofas and sectionals, though, can fit almost any color and pattern scheme. This is because the woven or knit materials hold dye better and are more easily altered by manufacturers. Since you can stitch together different types and colors of fabric, you may find patterns that would be unlikely in leather furniture. The color spectrum is more broad, with everything from bright red to emerald green, royal purple to bright yellow, sky blue to hot pink, and every other imaginable hue.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: Pros and Cons

Since the two furniture materials are so different, they each come with their own set of pros and cons. Examine these carefully to help decide which is best for your living space.

Leather Sofa: Pros

  • Traditional, Timeless, and Luxurious: This is one of the main appeals of leather furniture. It gives an elegant, lush look to an area and is considered utterly classic–never to go out of style.
  • Durability: Leather is famously durable, lasting years even with heavy use. Many people get ten to fifteen years of use out of their leather sofas.
  • Hypoallergenic: Since leather is a cohesive material without spaces or gaps because there are far fewer threads, it's way less likely to trap dust and allergens that can irritate eyes, noses, and throats. It doesn't trap pet hair between the fibers and is easily wiped clean using the right products.
  • Temperature Regulation: This is something many people don't consider, but since leather is extremely breathable by nature, it regulates its own temperature. That means that when it's cold out, the seating will feel warm, and during the warmer months, it's more likely to stay cool.

Leather Sofa Cons

  • Cost: Leather furniture usually costs more upfront than its fabric counterparts. You may not want to shell out so much cash on a single purchase, but the longevity of the product can help offset this initial sticker shock.
  • Scratches Easily: Leather, while durable, has a delicate finish. If you have pets, their claws are more likely to leave scratches and marks behind on the seating. Sharp edges from the kid's art supplies and toys are also likely to leave marks. These scratches are often impossible to remove or repair entirely.
  • Discoloration: Leather sofas are susceptible to discoloration, especially fading due to sun exposure. It may not fade evenly, leaving odd spots that look stained or worn down.
  • Maintenance: Leather requires ongoing maintenance for its entire lifespan. Every six to twelve months, you need to clean and condition it to remove surface buildup and avoid cracks.
  • Lack of Variety: You're unlikely to find leather sofas in unique or vibrant colors or to find pieces with fun patterns.

Fabric Sofas: Pros

  • Comfort: Many people find fabric more comfortable than leather. Your skin doesn't "stick" to the surface, and they're often softer to the touch.
  • Variety: While leather furniture limits your choice of color and pattern, fabric sofas possess unlimited possibilities.
  • Pet and Child-Friendly: No scratches here! Normal, everyday wear and tear from pets and kids won't leave behind unpleasant marks. Note: sharp objects can still tear the fabric, a risk with any material.
  • Ability to Reupholster: Fabric sofas and sectionals are much easier and cheaper to reupholster if it's required.
  • Texture: With fabric sofas, you can choose your preferred texture based on the specific material.
  • Cost: Fabric sofas are usually cheaper than leather options, making them great if you're on a budget.

Fabric Sofas: Cons

  • Prone to Stains: Magic markers, grape juice, coffee, and paint are all likely to stain fabric sofas. While you can spot-clean the area, these stains may be permanent.
  • Wear and Tear: Over time, fabric sofas may show signs of wear and tear more quickly than leather. The upholstery can pile, fray, or fade, leading to a shorter lifespan.
  • Allergens: Just as leather repels allergens, fabric sofas are more likely to trap them. Pet dander, dust mites, and more settle into the woven fabric, puffing up into the air as you sit.
  • Smell: Fabric sofas are also more likely to retain smell, just like allergens. You're likely to have that "dog smell" if you have pets. If a child spills milk, if there's a potty accident, or another issue, fabric is more likely to hold onto these smells for longer.
  • Not Water Resistant: With leather, water doesn't absorb into the cushions due to the sealing on the material. With fabric, this isn't the case. Liquids can penetrate right through the material, seeping into the cushion material.

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, choosing a leather vs fabric sofa comes down to personal style and your lifestyle. Both can offer modern, convenient features, like console storage with USB charging ports, power recline options, and more. When making the decision, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each, look at your budget and space, and select the piece that speaks to you.

When you shop Mor Furniture for Less for leather or fabric sofas and sectionals, you'll get rock-bottom prices with huge style. We also offer white-glove delivery at real-people prices for total setup and assembly in your home and provide the option to purchase a SafeGuard Mor protection plan that offers coverage against accidental damage like spills, stains, rips, tears, and mechanical failures for years to come.

Shop Mor Furniture for Less today for the best selection of leather and fabric sofas, couches, loveseats, and sectionals, along with complete living room sets, coffee tables, ottomans, decor, and more.