Leather vs Fabric: How to Pick the Right Sofa for You

leather vs fabric sofa

Chocolate or vanilla. Cats or dogs. Leather or fabric. The choice might not be that dramatic, but it’s still a polarizing question in home décor. We sell incredible sofas made from both materials, so choosing one over the other would be a bit like parents choosing their favourite child. But if you’re stuck on deciding which one to bring home, we’re breaking down the differences to help you figure out which type of sofa is the best fit for your home and lifestyle.


Furry family members can be tough on furniture. Many people assume that because leather sofas are more expensive, they’re not a good match for homes with cats or dogs. Not true! Leather’s smooth finish is less likely to get snagged on nails and claws, especially compared to woven fabrics like tweed. Leather is also more convenient for getting rid of pet hair quickly. While fabric sofas need to be vacuumed, all it takes is a dry cloth to get your leather sofa back to its original, un-hairy state.

Warmth & Comfort

For afternoon naps in summer or Netflix marathons in winter, you’ll probably be more comfortable on fabric. These sofas feel softer and create a more casual look in your living room or den. Leather might be too cold in winter and too hot in summer, especially in a room where you plan to spend hours stretched out or cuddled up.

Stains & Spills

Even in the quietest homes, your sofa runs the risk of being spilled on. Similar to its durability around pets, leather also wins when it comes to human-made messes. Act quickly to absorb liquid and wipe away spills, and your leather sofa can look as good as new. This is especially true of protected leathers that have special finishes applied. Because fabric absorbs liquids so quickly, you’ll probably need professional help to hide the evidence of a spill. For the most stain-resistant fabric sofas, shop for synthetic materials in darker shades.


Fabric sofas are almost always less expensive than leather. This makes your decision pretty easy if economy is your first priority. And if you’re looking for top-quality materials, splurging on a fabric should still be easier on your bank account than most leather sofas. Found a low-cost leather option? Be sure to check the details. Cheaper leather sofas are often made with bonded leather, a less-durable material created by blending together leftover pieces of various hides. Although it’s cheap, bonded leather cracks and peels easily, and can be tough to repair once it’s damaged.


After you go to all the trouble of choosing the perfect sofa, do you want it to last a decade? Or do you prefer frequently updating your style? Longevity shoppers will probably be happier with a leather pick; high-quality leather sofas that are well taken care of usually outlast their fabric counterparts. For the longest-lasting pieces in our collection, look for one of our custom leather sofas: upholstered in top-grain leather and made in Canada, these beautiful pieces will keep you company for many years. If you’re looking for longevity in a fabric sofa, stick with polyester fabrics in a tight weave like velvet or microfibre.

Care Tips

Whichever sofa you choose, treat it well to make the most out of your years together. When in doubt, consult the Diamond Kote Protection Plan offered for the first 5 years of most Urban Barn living room upholstery.


• Vacuum frequently. Dust and dirt cause fabric to wear faster
• Have cushion covers professionally cleaned. Machine washing can damage fabric, backing or stitching.
• Fluff feather and down cushions frequently.
• Try to position your sofa in the shade. Direct sunlight fades fabric.
• Always blot (never rub) spills immediately with a clean, absorbent white cloth.


• Clean with a dry cloth to remove dust and prevent dirt buildup.
• Apply leather conditioner 4 times per year to moisturize and protect.
• Keep away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.
• Blot liquids immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth.

For more information on caring for all kinds of furniture – including glass, metal and motion – read our Care Guides online!

Did we help you choose between a fabric and leather sofa? Save 15% on both styles (including custom!) from now until October 7! Shop online for stock and quick ship, or head to your nearest Urban Barn to design your made-to-order sofa.

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