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Leather vs. Cloth: What’s the Deal?

There are a number of factors you need to consider before purchasing upholstered furniture. While your budget may drive many of your decisions, other aspects of the process should also take precedence. Certainly, the quality of the frame is an important factor to consider, and we’ll go into that in an upcoming blog (so stay tuned!). Additionally, expect to see more articles about size, style, versatility, and manufacturing processes. Today, however, let’s talk about surface issues — the pros and cons of leather and cloth. Among the vast array of furniture choices ahead of you, there are primarily two types of upholstery from which you can choose. Before you even begin thinking about the size, style, color, and comfort of your next sofa or chair, you’ve got to decide whether you’re going to go for leather or cloth. Below, we’ve listed a slew of the advantages and disadvantages for each upholstery option, as well as the lowdown on them. Your decision, though, should remain based on your preferences and resources. Some of you would furnish your home like the Taj Mahal, given the resources. Others would prefer something more modest. As always, your tastes should direct you. These guidelines are a helpful way to help you narrow your options. After sitting a while on a leather sofa and on a cloth-covered couch, you should be pretty clear about which feels more comfortable and which best suits your lifestyle. So go shopping armed with this list of pros and cons, and remember to take a good long sit-test before you make a final decision.Top grade leather will last for decades.

Leather Is:

  • Durable
  • Easy to clean and non-absorbent
  • Doesn’t hold dust or hair (good for people with allergies)
  • A natural material
  • Often associated with wealth
  • Better with age
  • Easy to repair

Leather Isn’t:

  • Cheap
  • Available in a wide range of colors and patterns
  • Always comfortable because it absorbs heat
  • Soft and cozy for sleeping or lying around

A cloth covered piece of furniture tends to be much more comfortable for lounging than leather.

Cloth Is:

  • Usually less expensive
  • Available in a wide range of colors and patterns
  • Never sticky
  • Amenable to re-upholstering
  • Soft and cozy for sleeping and lying around

Cloth Isn’t:

  • Easy to clean
  • Spill or dirt resistant
  • Non-absorbent
  • Durable
  • Odor resistant

The quality of your upholstery also makes a difference in how well your new sofa and chair hold up over the years. You can buy a leather couch made of highly processed, low-grade leather or a living room suite covered in the finest cotton-and-wool weave or high-end linen. While other factors (the frame or any movable parts) will affect the durability and longevity of your furniture, the surface covering is a factor you can see and feel. If you decide that leather is the most appropriate choice for your needs, consider the various grades of leather and how they’ll meet your requirements. Watch for our upcoming articles about the differences between low-grade and high-grade leather and fabrics. For now, the first step in the furniture buying process is to make the decision between leather and cloth.


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