13 Different Types of Upholstery Fabric For Indoor/Outdoor Furniture

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Let’s face it! There is a lot of effort that goes behind creating the perfect home. And one of its essential elements is the upholstery furniture.

You might have beautiful couches, but the entire ambiance can be spoiled if the fabric is not attractive or comfortable. Today, when deciding upon which fabric to use, you need to keep in mind the texture, style, comfort, and luxury. A very luxurious fabric that cannot be maintained will only provide you with a beautiful home for a limited period.

To help you in this search, we have listed down the 13 different types of upholstery fabrics for furniture. Read through the next part to learn all about them. 

So, without further ado, let’s get going.

Types Of Upholstery Fabric For Furniture

  1. Leather

If you want to provide furniture with a luxurious and elegant touch, then leather is what you are looking for. It is the most widely used option that is fit for kings and will look and feel expensive. Moreover, genuine leather will last you for 5 years or more if you take good care of it. 

And the best part about this material is that it does not absorb liquids and smells. Hence using it around kids and pets will not be a problem. It will not smell like your pets and does not catch the smell of smoke too. We know how problematic bad-smelling furniture can be, but this will give you an odorless, grand experience.

The only issue is that leather is prone to splitting and cracking. It is made from tanned skin, and hence it can crack if it comes in contact with sharp objects. 

Pros
  • Resistant to chemicals that can damage furniture
  • Does not absorb fluids
  • Will not smell bad
  • Suitable for heavy use
Cons
  • Can split or crack
  • Very expensive
  1. Olefin

Now that we have introduced one of the most luxurious fabrics, it is time to talk about one which is suitable for rough use. There are places in the house where you need furniture that will be used very roughly. Hence the fabric needs to be resistant to wear and tear, and that’s where Olefin comes in. 

This synthetic petroleum-based fiber looks like wool but is made from melted plastic. It is water-resistant and is also protected from heat and fire. 

Coming to stains, any water-based stains can be easily removed. And you can also use bleach for cleaning. This will not lead to the fading of its color as the dye is mixed with melted plastic when making this fabric. 

But if we talk about oil-based stains, it is difficult to remove from the fabric. Also, try not to leave it in the sun to dry as it can become brittle. Leave it to dry in the shade, and that will work well. 

Pros
  • Made from water-resistant melted plastic
  • Stains can be cleaned easily
  • Fire and chemical resistant
  • It can be cleaned using a bleaching agent
Cons
  • Oil-based stains are difficult to remove
  • May become brittle if left under the sun
  1. Polyester

Do you want that expensive feel in your living room without using expensive fabric? Polyester will help you achieve that easily with its soft and comfortable nature. It can be used to cover chair cushions and sofas. This can replace more delicate fabric if you have kids in the house. 

It is super easy to clean, and you can wash off all kinds of stains. Polyester also dries quickly, so you do not need to shy away from washing them often. 

Adding on, the fabric is slightly breathable, but it does not absorb the smell. This makes it perfect if you have pets in the house. Even if kids throw colors or paints on this fabric, the color and the smell can both be removed.

But the only thing that you need to be careful about is that this fabric is inflammable. Hence, you cannot smoke near it as it could become a safety hazard. 

Pros
  • Soft and comfortable fabric
  • Dries very fast
  • Abrasion and stain-resistant
  • Does not absorb much smell
Cons
  • Fabric is flammable
  1. Rayon

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric that is very soft and comfortable to touch. You can find it to be similar to cotton and it is durable if maintained well. This makes it best suited for houses without kids and pets as the fabric needs to be taken care of. 

It does drape well and can be dyed and printed on, but you will have to dust it regularly. This is because the material is not water-proof and might lose its shape if washed. Hence, it is best to wash it once or twice a year if necessary; you can use a vacuum to clean it too. 

Furthermore, the fabric is protected from mildew and moth attacks. This is a beneficial feature considering it cannot be washed regularly.

The only issue is that the fabric wrinkles very easily, and you might want to keep a steam iron handy. Use it on low mode as too much heat may burn the fabric. 

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Semi-synthetic and very soft
  • Resistant to mildew and moth attacks
Cons
  • Prone to wrinkling
  • Not resistant to water
  1. Acetate

This is a cheaper alternative to silk and makes for a very shiny and lustrous option. If you want something to imitate silk and provide your furniture with a luxurious feel, then this will work out well. It adds class and elegance to the living room, and your guests are going to love it. 

Also, the material is resistant to humidity and is protected from moth and mildew. Now, this is essential as the fabric cannot be washed often; it can only be dry-cleaned, which is an expensive process. So, be very careful about spilling anything on it. We would not suggest this for houses with kids and pets. 

Also, it scratches very easily, and this is a downside of using the material. You will have to be careful around it, and hence it is most suitable to be used for formal upholstery. 

Pros
  • Lustrous and shiny material
  • Resistant to humid climates
  • Very cost-effective
  • Resistant to mildew and moth attacks
Cons
  • Prone to scratches
  1. Cotton

Next, we have one of the most popular fabric choices that is present in almost every home. Cotton is an extremely durable option that can be dyed easily. You will find cotton upholstery of every color in the market because of this. In fact, you can dye them at home yourself; such is the convenience offered. 

Secondly, you will find cotton to be available at different price ranges. It depends on the thread count, and hence there are options for everybody. 

Also, it is hypoallergenic and is suitable for people with sensitive skin. Hence, you can use it for bedrooms and sofas easily. The material is very breathable and soft, and will not irritate the skin at all. In fact, many choose this as their preferred form of bedspread all over the world. 

But the only problem is that it catches stains easily. Since it dyes well, if you drop colors on it, the colors may be difficult to remove. This is especially true in the case of light-colored cotton fabric. 

Pros
  • 100% natural fabric
  • Soft and breathable
  • Hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin
  • Can be dyed in multiple colors
Cons
  • Catches stains
  1. Wool

Known to be one of the most comfortable fabrics, wool is 100% natural and is one of the softest and warmest options. It is widely used for upholstery in areas with cold weather and is specially used in houses with rich interiors. 

Wool is an incredible option for your couches and will make them look luxurious and plush. You can sink into these warm couches after a long day’s work. This material also has excellent insulation capacities and will keep you warm in winter. 

Not only that, it is resistant to water and fire. If a little amount of water falls on it, you can quickly wipe it away. 

But beware of spilling a lot of liquid on it. Yes, stains can be removed, but it will take time to dry because of the thick fabric. Also, it’s expensive, and you will need to maintain it well. It is best to send it for dry cleaning once you can see dirt on it. 

Pros
  • Water and fire-resistant
  • Environmentally friendly and 100% natural
  • Has high insulation properties
  • Resistant to mold and mildew
Cons
  • Expensive fabric
  1. Acrylic

Do you want upholstery fabric for outdoor furniture? Acrylic is an incredible option that will fit your needs. It has the ability to not get brittle under the sun, and it imitates the quality of wool. This synthetic fabric can be easily used for your patio or backyard furniture. 

Now the other thing that you may be worried about is the rain. But this fabric is known to dry very quickly and hence will not pose a problem. 

Moreover, it is easy to clean and wash when necessary. If you are keeping it near a pool, the material is prone to get dirty faster. In such cases, take it out and wash it well. It will dry within some hours, and you will have cleaner seats by night time. 

The only issue with acrylic is that it is not protected from abrasion. Hence you might see marks on it easily. 

Pros
  • Easy to clean and wash
  • Dries very quickly
  • It can be used on outdoor furniture too
  • Very soft to touch
Cons
  • Not protected from abrasion
  1. Silk

Next is one of the most expensive and luxurious natural fabrics you will find in the market. Silk has been used for ages in royal households and has been part of our lives in the form of dresses as well as upholstery. 

This is indeed a delicate fabric and needs to be taken care of; so, be sure that it’s not roughly used. If you have pets in the house, you should probably not include this fabric as part of the furniture upholstery. This is because it catches dirt and fur easily, and if you wash it too often, the luster and the color will be lost. 

Also, always send your silk for dry cleaning; do not try to wash it on your own in the house. Alternatively, you can dust it often to keep the dirt away. 

Pros
  • Luxurious fabric used for formal decor
  • Available in different patterns, colors, and designs
  • Retains its shape
  • Very soft fabric
Cons
  • Prone to discoloration
  • Catches stains
  1. Jute

If you are looking for a textured fabric, jute will suit you well. This fabric originates from India and Bangladesh and is used in these 2 countries a lot. 

It also pairs very well with leather and compliments the smooth texture of it. You could get leather couches with jute ottomans. The colors also stand in contrast, and that looks very attractive. 

Moving on, for those who are very concerned about the environment, this fabric uses very few chemicals during the manufacturing process, making it extremely eco-friendly. It’s 100% natural and will not add to the toxic wastes when you dispose of it.

But be careful about using it, as the fabric cannot be washed. You can use a vacuum to clean away dust and debris, but don’t wash it. Also, do not leave it out in the sun as it turns yellow in sunlight. Hence, it is best to use it for indoor furniture. 

Pros
  • Will add texture to the decor
  • Pairs up with leather well
  • Mostly used for ottomans
  • Known to be cheap and durable
  • Eco-friendly
Cons
  • May turn yellow under sunlight
  • Not washable
  1. Linen

Have you loved those earthy shaded soft upholstery that you saw in a friend’s house? You can create the same at your home with linen. Linen derived from the flax plant is 100% natural and environment friendly. It is known to be a very affordable and comfortable option today, and you are going to enjoy the smooth and alluring nature of it. 

Also, you can easily wash it in a washing machine. There is no expensive dry cleaning required making it all the more affordable. The natural luster and sheen will not be lost after washing it. 

Moving on, earthy-toned linen looks the best as that is very near the original shade of this fabric. Your furniture will also stay protected from molds and mildew because of the antibacterial properties of linen. This makes it a great choice for every home out there. 

The only downside is that it wrinkles easily. This would mean you have to iron it a lot and ensure that you do not move the fabric too much. 

Pros
  • Very soft and smooth to touch
  • Very durable fabric
  • Affordable
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Abrasion-resistant and does not pill
Cons
  • Wrinkles easily
  1. Velvet

Turn your space into a luxurious den with this regal fabric. Velvet is known to be one of the most beautiful and expensive options when it comes to looking for upholstery fabric. It can be dyed in a multitude of shades and colors and will lift up the ambiance very well. 

Secondly, velvet is known for its great insulation capacities. That means you can use it for duvet covers or to cover comforters too. It will be a perfect addition to homes in hilly areas and places with very cold winters. 

An excellent property of velvet is that it reflects light. It catches light easily, which is then reflected across the surface. This, in turn, accentuates the shape and makes the fabric look fuller in volume. So, when you use it to cover couches, it will immediately look bigger and plusher. 

Also, it is made to last, and hence you can easily use this fabric for years. Just take good care of it, and you will have nothing to worry about. 

But remember that it is difficult to clean. It is best to send it for a dry wash as that will keep the fabric absolutely new. 

Pros
  • Looks luxurious and regal
  • Can be dyed in multiple colors
  • Reflects light and accentuates the form
  • Has insulation properties
  • Known to be durable
Cons
  • Difficult to clean
  1. Chenille

This is another natural fabric that is specially used in kids’ rooms and for kids’ furniture. Chenille is a French word that means ‘caterpillar’, whose fur it is supposed to look and feel like. It will provide your upholstery with a thick and comfortable feeling. 

Also, its fiber catches the light, and there are natural shadows formed on it when light streams into the room. Hence chenille looks different when viewed from different directions. This is because the fibers catch the light very differently. 

A great advantage of this fabric is that it can be washed at home itself. You can hand or machine-wash and then dry it using low heat in your dryer. One important suggestion here would be to dry it flat. Also do not hang it to dry, as it might then lose its shape. 

One issue that we found with this product is that the material catches dust and debris easily. So, it is best not to have it next to the windows. Exposure to too much heat might also lead to stretching or distortion of its shape. Hence use it for upholstery, which is kept in the middle of rooms. 

Pros
  • Soft and durable fabric
  • Can be cleaned at home itself
  • Multiple color options to pick from
  • Very stretchable
  • Resistant to abrasion
Cons
  • Dust and debris get stuck easily 

Final Words

Consider the use of furniture before selecting a fabric. There are fabrics for rough and informal use, and then there are those for formal use. Also, some would not be suitable for houses with pets or kids. Again the fabric might be cheap, but the cost of cleaning stains could be extremely expensive. 

Remember that whether we talk about garden furniture or sumptuous indoor poshness, the furnishings should fit your needs well, and you should not need to worry about it constantly. On this note, we will take our leave. Let us know if you have any further queries in the comment section below. 

Until next time! 

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