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Leather v Fabric Sofas

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when you are shopping for a new sofa is whether you want it covered with leather or with fabric. This decision has an effect on price, on what colours are available, on how the sofa will age and how you need to care for it, and on how it looks in your home and feels to sit on. Clearly, then, it’s important to get it right and think carefully through all the factors. In this blog we explain some of the things you will want to consider, and the differences between leather and fabric sofas.  


One of the great advantages of fabric sofas is the sheer number of options available, in terms of texture, colour, and pattern. Whatever the style of your home or the look you are trying to achieve, almost anything is possible with a fabric sofa. Any sofa is usually available in an enormous variety of colours; different fabrics from light linens to rich velvets; and all sorts of patterns including subtle stripes, checks and tweeds, or bold floral patterns.

Delamere Fabric Sofa Delamere Fabric Sofa

Leather sofas are also available in a range of colours; not just the shades of brown you might expect but also reds, pinks, greys and creams. Nevertheless, there will never be quite the same variety of colour options as with a fabric sofa, and certainly not all the different patterns and textures.

Lana Large Corner Sofa in Leather Lana Large Corner Sofa in Leather


Ease of cleaning

Many people find that leather sofas are easier to clean. They are usually much less prone to staining, and they don’t retain dust and animal hair or absorb spills in quite the same way that fabric sofas can. Often just needing no more cleaning than a quick wipe, leather sofas can be brilliant for people with pets or young children, or to put in rooms where people are likely to be eating food or drinking wine.

Dog on Sloane Sofa


That said, many modern fabric sofas are stain-resistant, and it is usually possible to remove and dry-clean the covers if they do become dirty or stained.

Charlie Loose Cover Sofa Charlie Loose Cover Sofa

So, whether you go for a leather or a fabric sofa may just depend a bit on your lifestyle, on the colour you want, and on how pristine-looking you want it to remain.


Buying a high-quality sofa made from the best materials always means it will last longer. That said, even the best fabric sofas tend to eventually fade in bright sunlight or through heavy use, whereas the colours on leather sofas are usually a little more resilient. In fact, while leather sofas may crack slightly or acquire a patina with age, many people feel that this enhances the look of the sofa and means that leather sofas simply get more and more elegant with time, while fabric sofas may start to look old and tired.

Chelsea in Old English Hazel

On the other hand, fabric sofas are much more resilient to damage from pet claws, buttons on jeans, children with toys or homework binders, or other minor incidents. Leather sofas can easily pick up scratches over time, which can detract from their appearance especially if they were picked for a sleek and clean look.


For people who suffer from allergies, choosing the right covering for your sofa can be particularly important. Allergic reactions are often either to dust mites or to pet fur or skin, and so reducing the amount of dust and fur that left around the home can make a big difference. Fabric sofas, especially those with a looser weave, tend to absorb and trap these, meaning that they can trigger allergies unless subject to thorough vacuuming and cleaning.


Leather sofas, because they don’t absorb dust or trap hair, and can be quickly and easily wiped clean, are usually recommended for allergy sufferers.


One of the disadvantages of a leather sofa is that in warm weather they can feel hot and sticky to sit on, while in cold weather they can feel a little cool and uninviting. Fabric sofas are better at balancing out temperatures, meaning that they aren’t too hot to sit on in the heat, but are warm and cosy when it’s cold. In addition, depending on the fabric you choose, fabric sofas can feel softer and more comfortable to sit on or, especially, to lie on.

If a leather sofa is your preference, however, it’s not a difficult problem to solve as you can always put a blanket or throw over the sofa when needed.

Sandhurst sofa with blanket



Whether you prefer the appearance of a fabric or leather sofa depends hugely on your personal taste. A dark leather chesterfield sofa can give an unparalleled look of classic elegance, reminiscent of gentleman’s clubs and cigars, while a slim white leather sofa looks sleek and modern in a way that can be hard to achieve with fabric.

harrington chesterfield

Of course, fabric sofas can look warmer and more inviting and are often easier to match to other furnishings in terms of colour and pattern. They can also be much more interesting if you are looking for a more contemporary and quirky style, such as a vibrant pattern or a bright colour.

Alice modular sofa


Whatever decisions you make; price will usually be a factor for most people. Leather sofas are often seen as being the more expensive option, and this does frequently hold true, although sofas are frequently available with lower-priced leather covering options that are comparable in price with fabrics, so it’s best not to just assume that a leather sofa will be unaffordable. And of course, you also have to factor in the questions of care, maintenance, cleaning and durability mentioned above, and how that will affect the overall cost of the sofa during it’s entire life.