Common Types of Upholstery Fabric and How To Select the Right One

How do you face a crossroads and decide where to turn? How do you choose one opportunity over another? We live in a digital age where the answer to questions is just a simple Google search away, but we don’t always seek out the truth. We don’t often deal with the art of questioning. Similar to Sylvia Plath, we’re left wondering, “Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which one fits me and is most becoming?” We know that the right fit and stylistic choice can truly make or break a person—or a place or a thing. We want to get it right on the first try.

Needless to say, humans are unable to live different lives as one singular self. But by happy chance, we can try on different design materials and fabrics to see which one fits our lifestyles and aesthetics best. All it takes is a choice of the right furniture upholstery. Never fear if you’re not a fiber aficionado—we’ve compiled a list of the most common types of upholstery fabric and will share how to select the right one for your interiors. Here’s what you need to know to authoritatively upholster your home to your favored tastes and preferences.

The Upholstery Sea: Textile Coverings

By baseline definition, upholstery is the art of fitting furniture with springs, studding, and coverings. At the core, upholstery is any soft, padded covering affixed to a particular piece of furniture. Synonymous with fabric, upholstery explains the covering that encompasses the piece. Upholstery is just as much about purpose as it is appearance. The choice of fabric plays a characteristic role. By completing the overall look, a curated aesthetic appeal is directly visible.

You can think of upholstery as a clear-cut window into your interior design style. What image do you aspire to portray? What vibe do you desire to emit throughout a space? Different fabrics are unequivocally associable with different emotions. But your decision is about more than merely looking good in a set space.

Selecting a suitable textile covering hinges on the fundamental determinants of longevity, comfort, drape, maintenance, and style preference. Many textile classes are available in the upholstery sea, so it’s wise to take your time to deliberate over the available choices. Nobody desires to battle with snags, splits, and stains because of the wrong impulsive decision. Practicality should take the lead over reputation or trend.

Fibers: Natural Fabrics vs. Synthetic Fabrics

When considering durability, comfort, and style, the origin of the upholstery fabric should play an integral part in your decision-making process. Upholstery fabrics customarily come in two types: natural or synthetic. Natural fabrics derive from organic fibers, while synthetic materials are human-made. A dynamic duo is also possible—a variety of popular fabrics contain a fusion of different natural and synthetic fibers. Each type of material has its own pros and cons to consider.

Keep in mind that some fabrics wear better than others, and some are easier to clean than others. Not one is superior to the other on all counts. Higher-grade quality isn’t necessarily the best choice either—the highest functionality or versatility is the ideal decision for your furnishings.

Consider how these diverse textiles and fibrous materials age and wear over time. What looks spiffy now may look far less alluring after years of everyday living. Be sure to ponder care and maintenance as well—will a slipcover be necessary if you have children or pets? Will you need to close the blinds to prevent fading from direct sunlight? Strategically thinking about these factors aids your upholstery color and texture decisions. Let’s examine closer the most common types of upholstery fabric and how to select the right one.


Leather is notably the most utilized upholstery material of the present day. Offering true comfort, luxury looks, and grand-scale whiffs of excellence, this upholstery is commonly found in living room chairs and sofas. The differences between bonded leather and genuine leather speak to the diverse origins of the material. That being said, leather is generally very durable and easy to maintain.


Velvet is a buttery-soft woven product of an array of natural fibers and synthetic products, such as linen, silk, wool, cotton, and cellulose. You should think over color preference and washability if you lean towards velvet pieces. For a room of sophistication or eye-catching appeal, you can’t go wrong with the dramatic touch that begs to be felt.


This strong and durable microfiber material is a common and appealing alternative to leather. Polyester blends are available in a plethora of color selections—available options will fit with whatever theme or aesthetic trend your interiors follow. Stain-resistant, easy to maintain, and very comfortable, polyester is a wise choice that stands up well against sunlight, children, and pets.


Derived from flax plants, linen is a breathable, natural material. The many perks of linen include apex comfort and resistance to soiling and pilling. Ideal for casual and formal spaces alike, this resilient upholstery fabric is windily woven for clean, rustic, and iconically chic aesthetics. Do be cognizant of wrinkles, however, as this fabric shines with less use.


Humanity has utilized wool as a reliable material for centuries. Soft, warm, durable, eco-friendly, and resistant to mold, wrinkling, and fading, wool blends are known for their cozy and versatile connotations. Consider wool blends for your main living spaces or as supplementary accents.


The fabric of our lives is very soft, breathable, and reliable but also susceptible to soiling and wrinkling. You’ll tend to find cotton coverings on slipcovers that protect more expensive upholstery materials or in tighter weaves for even greater durability. Various grades and color combinations are perfect for any living room, family room, or dining room seating.


Silk is undoubtedly a coveted and well-loved material. Smooth and delicate, this fabric is most suitable for adult spaces without constant use or wear and tear from pets or children. As a luxurious natural fiber, silk upholstery is a long-lasting investment to provide elegance to your interiors.

Shop DesignTap for high-end décor and furnishings for your interior spaces. Our curated collections contain a wide array of modern minimalist pieces to provide causal yet elegant comfort. We have a menagerie of luxury modern dining room chairs, armchairs, sofas, and sectionals from which to select, each covered in stunning, high-performance upholstery. No matter your taste, DesignTap surely has a unique find for your space. Browse our shapely and sleek selections today to choose a distinct, unexpected piece for your home.

Common Types of Upholstery Fabric and How To Select the Right One

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