Couch Material Types: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to types of couch fabric, there are a lot of opinions to choose from. In general, you want your sofa to be covered by a durable fabric, but this can mean synthetic fibers, natural upholstery fabrics, and leather or leather-like materials.

So, what do you need to consider when choosing a sofa fabric?

Below, we have covered a wide range of different natural and synthetic fabrics that sofas can be covered by. We've covered how they could fit into your space design and how well they withstand normal wear and tear to help you make your decision. Check it out now.

Upholstery Fabrics: Natural and Synthetic Fibers

There are some different types of couch materials that are incredibly common. These sofa fabrics may be made from both natural fibers and synthetic ones and include the following.


Cotton is a very breathable fabric and tends to be soft and durable. It has natural stain-repellant qualities and is easy to maintain. Cotton upholstery fabrics are particularly good in warmer climates where people may want to stay cooler.

Although made from natural fibers, there is some debate as to how environmentally friendly cotton is. If you're looking for sustainable sofa fabrics, you may need to do your research to find a sofa made from a responsible cotton source.


Linen is another natural fabric that can be used as a sofa fabric. It is a durable fabric choice; in fact, it's about 30% stronger than cotton, making it extremely hard-wearing. It has a textured appearance (though it is prone to wrinkles!).

Linen is a biodegradable material, and due to its long lifespan, it tends to do less damage to the environment when it comes to the end of its life. However, linen is not a stain-resistant fabric. This means if you've got young children or pets and you're looking for a sofa that will last, you might consider a more stain-resistant option.

Our Kos 3-Seat Sofa is an excellent example of the clean lines, and minimalistic style linen exuded when used as a couch fabric.


Polyester fabric makes for an incredibly durable material. It is not an absorbent material, so is often a stain-resistant upholstery fabric, making it great for kids and pets. (Be aware that polyester mixes may not be stain-resistant due to the materials added to the base material).

For the eco-conscious, polyester fabric often sets off alarm bells. Since it's made of plastic, it is well-known for being pretty bad for the environment. However, at Viesso, we're committed to offering a broad range of sofas perfect for the eco-conscious customer.

So, when we do stock brands that use polyester, we ensure it's in as sustainable a way as possible. For instance, the Silverlake Sofa from Gus uses PET fill for its sofa cushions. This polyester fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles, giving new life to our plastic waste.


Velvet sofa fabric is having a revival at the moment. Often, people pair bold velvet couches with bright wall colors and floral arrangements. As a sofa material, velvet is soft, luxurious, and richly textured. It can be made from both synthetic fibers, like polyester, as well as natural fibers, like cotton and bamboo.

Velvet, as a sofa material, lends itself best to cooler environments where the aim is to be warm and cozy. Velvet sofa material tends to be relatively easy to clean, but the key is to act fast when you spot a spill!

Our Adelaide Sofa comes in two velvet options, rust and pewter, making it a versatile sofa for a range of different stylistic choices.


Microfiber is a fine synthetic upholstery fabric that can often be used to mimic other fibers, like suede and leather. It is a good upholstery fabric for those with kids because it tends to resist stains and is easy to clean. If you have pets, microfiber could be a problem as it attracts lint and pet hair easily.

The versatility of microfiber fabric sofas means that they are an incredibly common choice for people looking for a cheaper alternative to options like pure cotton, suede, and genuine leather.

Leather Sofa Fabric: Genuine Leather Versus Faux Leather

Another incredibly common style of upholstery fabric is leather. Leather furniture is very popular, but there are two different kinds of 'leather' sofa fabric types to look out for.

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather sofas are luxurious and easy to maintain. They tend to age well and can be comfortable, though they are best in cooler environments where one is unlikely to stick to the seat! Leather sofas are, however, relatively costly and vulnerable to scratches (particularly if you've got pets). On top of this, leather sofas tend to come in more limited color options than fabric sofas.

For vegan shoppers, leather sofas are obviously unsuitable, and many other non-vegan customers may also choose not to have this animal product for their sofa's fabric. There is also debate as to whether leather or its faux counterpart, is better for the environment.

The Icon Sofa comes in premium leather with three colors to choose from.

Faux Leather

Faux leather is a very common upholstery fabric that mimics more luxurious fabric choices. Like genuine leather, it's an excellent choice if your sofa is commonly spilled on, and it is relatively durable (though not quite as durable as real leather). Unlike genuine leather, faux leather comes in a wide range of colors and is resistant to fading.

However, since faux leather is most often made from petroleum-derived products, it can have a significant impact on the environment. There is also a potential for 'off-gassing', which is a chemical smell, mainly when the leather sofa is new.

Genuine Leather Vs. Synthetic Leather: Sustainability

As we mentioned, there is debate when it comes to leather sofa materials due to their environmental impact. While genuine leather is biodegradable, being a natural fabric, there must be consideration made for the environmental impact of cattle farming and the chemical tanning process (a crucial step in processing hides).

On the other hand, faux leather offers a reduced impact on animals and a lower carbon footprint, but it isn't biodegradable and is made using petroleum-based products.

For eco-conscious consumers, leather couch fabric is a bit of a landmine. At Viesso, we strive to make sure all of our products are long-lasting, so you can factor this into your decision on couch fabrics and their sustainability.

Other Synthetic Fabrics: Aesthetic Sofa Fabric

On top of the common sofa materials we have looked at above, there are some other fibers that sometimes get used for sofas. 


Velour is a fabric used for its soft feel and luxurious appearance. It often comes in bold and beautiful colors and patterns. Indeed, our Greta Sofa, in rust, is a fantastic example of how this fabric can create a sofa that really stands out.

Velour tends not to be a good fabric if your sofa is likely to get stained, but aside from that, it is a relatively durable fabric, provided you choose good-quality velour.


Chenille is another great fabric for texture and comfort and has good fabric durability. However, it is prone to piling and while some chenille fabrics are treated to make them stain-resistant, others are highly prone to stains.

Chenille is an all-season fabric, meaning it works in many climates and is highly breathable. It also comes in many styles and colors. The Babi Sofa is made from a durable chenille.

Choosing the Best Sofa Fabric: Tips and Tricks

Things you should consider when choosing a sofa fabric to make the choice easier include the following.

  • The comfort, feel, and texture of the fabric
  • The durability and resistance of the fabric
  • Where the sofa will be placed, i.e., high-traffic areas would need more durable materials than low-traffic areas
  • How suitable is the fabric for your household? For example, do you have pets or children?
  • How the fabric will complement the design of the rest of the room


The couch fabric type you choose can have a significant impact on the feel, comfort, and style of the sofa. It is a big decision, but we have broken down some of the most common fabrics and how they stand up against each other here. Use this guide to work out the best fabric for your sofas.

If you're looking for a range of sofas made from durable fabrics that offer variety, style, and sustainability, then Viesso has got you covered. Check out our full range of modern, artisan-made sofas now.

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