We know that searching for your dream sofa can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. There’s lots to consider, and fabric is arguably the most crucial choice when it comes to making sure that the new star of the living room is fit for your lifestyle.
There’s no single best fabric for sofa upholstery – it’s really about what look you want to achieve balanced with how you’ll use it. For example, you might know that you want a beautifully plush velvet but need something a little more durable for four-legged friends who like to push their luck. But with so many options, how do you know that you’ve chosen the best material for your sofa? We’ve pulled together a round up of our most popular fabrics and weighed up the benefits and considerations to guide you to your perfect new sofa.
Sofa Material Types
The crème de la crème of sofa fabrics, everybody needs a velvet sofa at some point in their lifetime. While there is a general misconception that velvet can be high maintenance, the popularity of this material means there are more options than ever to choose from to help it stand the test of time. Our Aquaclean Velvet is a popular choice in our velvet furniture collection for those looking for all the plushness of velvet but with the safety net of a fabric treatment to make it easy to wipe down. Here are some of our velvet sofa pros and cons:
- Velvet doesn’t pill like some other fabrics, so keeps its luxurious look
- It’s super cosy and works well with both foam and feather fillings
- Polyester velvets have more wrinkle resistance
- Velvet picks up pet hair easily, so it may need a little more cleaning
- This is quite a striking fabric which means complementary décor takes some additional thought
How to clean a velvet sofa
Surprisingly, velvet doesn’t require any more particular attention than other upholstery. The best way to look after a velvet sofa is to hoover it once a week to pick up any dust or dirt which can cling to the fabric. As long as your velvet has been treated (as is the case with our Aquaclean Velvet) then you can gently dab at spills with a lukewarm cloth, otherwise quickly soak up what you can and refer to the manufacturer’s guide.
Looking for something a little less traditional? A cord sofa could be just the thing. Cord has had a resurgence in recent years as a contemporary option for furniture – think more crisp and clean or rich and warm rather than those dowdy brown corduroys your dad used to wear. With a nod to a seventies aesthetic, this is a soft fabric which usually features cotton as the primary material.
- All the striking qualities of a velvet
- Cord has a thick pile which makes it hard-wearing and durable
- Usually made from a cotton blend, it’s lovely and soft to lounge on
- This is a distinctive look which fits well into a retro or contemporary home
How to clean a cord sofa
By its nature, corduroy upholstery has grooves running through the fabric which can collect tell-tale crumbs and dirt, but this makes for easy cleaning with a handheld / small nozzle hoover to zap any messiness right up. You can then use a soft bristle brush to catch any remaining dirt, but make sure to brush in the direction of the corduroy’s fibres to keep the “nap” smooth, which refers to that little fuzzy texture on the surface of some materials. For spillages, corduroy will work well with commercial upholstery cleaning products, just make sure to test a small spot first and gently blot the stain to avoid roughing up the fabric.
If you live in a home of accidental spillages, mucky hands and general chaos (the good kind), then a leather sofa could be right up your street. Often considered a more traditional piece, there are lots of ways to make leather feel modern in your home if that’s your thing – we’d suggest having a browse of the Mid-Century leather pieces from our vintage leather collection (pictured above).
- Leather is generally much easier to clean than other fabrics due to its stain-resistant nature
- It ages better than most other fabrics and can actually improve in look over time, so you get some bonus years
- Leather is one of the most durable materials in the sofa world
- It’s pet friendly, so long as your cat isn’t intent on scratching your world to pieces
- A leather sofa can be a little bit more expensive than other options
- It can be cool to sit on in the colder months, though that’s nothing a good throw can’t fix
How to clean a leather sofa
If this sounds like the fabric for you, then it’s worth getting the lowdown on any cleaning tips nice and early. While leather is much more durable than other fabrics, there are some exceptions to the rule in the case of aniline leather which requires a little more care. For this sort of leather, you’ll need a solution specially formulated for aniline. For the most part though, a good old microfibre cloth will do the trick for wiping down your leather sofa and keeping it in good nick, with just a little warm water and a cloth advised for any minor spills.
There’s been a recent boom for linen upholstery as people move towards more natural fibres, and this is a fabric that works beautifully in most homes. Our linen sofas collection features a cotton-linen mix blend which is robust and hard-wearing, meaning it’ll maintain its look and feel for years to come.
- Very durable due to its strong fibre
- Ages well and gets softer after use and cleaning
- Linen is a more sustainable material than some other upholstery fabrics
- Linen can wrinkle a little easier than other fabrics
- It isn’t a stain resistant fabric
How to clean a linen sofa
We know how tempting it is, but rule number one of cleaning linen is DON’T rub stains or spills. Use a clean, damp cloth to soak up any spillages and blot gently, making sure to stay well away from any products containing bleach as this will damage and discolour the fabric. Bicarbonate of sofa is a good option to sprinkle onto tougher stains and vacuum off with minimal rubbing. As with many fabrics, keeping in a good habit of regular vacuuming is as much as your linen sofa needs to stay fresh and happy.
What’s the best sofa material if you have pets?
This is a question we get asked a lot by our customers. The reality of having a pooch who enjoys prime position in the living room is that your sofa needs to be a little more durable. Shedding hair is easy enough to hoover off most fabrics with daily care, but an unexpected muddy paw or “what on earth is that” sticky tail is where it’s worth considering a fabric to suit. Undoubtedly, leather is the most hard-wearing fabric for households with dogs. However, if something softer is preferred, then a durable cord or treated velvet like our Aquaclean Velvet (available on our Urban Collection sofas) is an ideal option.
Now you’re armed with all of the information needed to decide on the right fabric for your new upholstery, take a look at our collection of Made To Order Sofas and order some free fabric samples to bring your ideas to life. This is the fun bit!