When it’s time to shop for a new couch, do too many material choices frustrate you? Consider this a blessing not a curse. You’re unique. Your family is, too. You want your home to look distinct and attractive, and your furnishings should reflect everyone’s style and personality. That’s why it’s wise to assess your lifestyle before you shop and choose from many types of couches material on today’s market so you don’t suffer buyer’s regret. Just like there are numerous types of couches, there is a vast selection of covering materials as well.
Got kids and dogs? Patterns hide a multitude of sins. Love cats? You know what they like to do to leather and synthetic leathers, right?
Is your home so sophisticated, or is it filled with all-white furnishings? On the other hand, do frequent friends and family gatherings call for stain resistant textiles?
Lifestyle patterns are critical to the consideration process when you review types of couches material, so before you shop, keep this in mind.
Table of Contents
- Textiles over time
- 5 Couch covering material types for your review
- Couch covering: Natural fiber
- Couch covering: Synthetics
- Couch covering: Leather
- Couch Covering: Faux Leather
- Couch covering: One-of-a-kind, off-the-grid materials
Textiles over time
Upholstered couches haven’t been around as long as you think. The UK claims to be the epicenter of all things upholstered as curators point to furnishings produced by the Worshipful Company of Upholders, a trade guild operating in London, that began producing upholstered chairs and settees before 1460.
The idea of attaching textiles to wood frames quickly spread through the highest echelons of society, and by the 18th and 19th centuries, wood workers and seamstresses collaborated on upholstered furnishings manufactured for people from all socioeconomic classes.
That stated, the 20th century witnessed an explosion of materials and construction innovations that prompted furniture makers to explore new materials, features and styling, expanding natural textiles to synthetics, plastics, leather and animal hides.
Like sheets, the gold standard of couch textiles continues to be “thread count” numbers (threads per square inch of fabric), but custom furniture manufacturers are happy to cover a couch with anything you like–as long as you are willing to pay for the work!
5 Couch covering material types for your review
Couch covering: Natural fiber
- processed wood pulp
- -Tight weave holds up for years of continuous use.
- -Available in an endless array of patterns, weaves and colors.
- -Some natural fibers are “certified organic” thus free of synthetic chemicals and dyes.
- -Natural fibers come in a wide range of price points to fit family budgets.
- -Preferred by homeowners seeking couch coverings that are non-allergenic.
- -Easily susceptible to damage from sunlight and moisture.
- -Could be flammable if not properly treated with flame retardants.
- -Linen and cotton can soil and wrinkle if not sprayed with stain-resist products.
- -Silk is delicate, looks luxurious, but must be professionally cleaned if soiled.
- -Natural fibers are delicate compared to synthetics, leathers and other materials.
Couch covering: Synthetics
- -Synthetic fabrics resist stains and fading and tend to be more durable than natural fibers.
- -May be combined with natural fibers to achieve a stronger weave.
- -Resists the claws of family pets more efficiently than natural fibers, but it will attract cat hair.
- -Can be woven to emulate the look of natural fibers but at half the price.
- -Olefin is the strongest, cheapest synthetic of all; it dominates the synthetics category.
- -Acetate can wrinkle, fade and attract soil.
- -Low-quality synthetics are known to pill if surfaces are subject to constant abrasion (e.g., movement).
- -Synthetics are known for perpetuating static electricity, so prepare for shocks!
- -Clothing tends to leave particles, lint and debris behind by imbeding in the weave.
- -Place oily hands or feet on these materials and stains may be impossible to remove.
Couch covering: Leather
- Cow hide
- composite hides
- -Easily dyed to produce exotic color combinations.
- -Leather is enduring; real leather furnishings last 4 times longer than other couch materials.
- -Clean leather with soap and water; use systems like Swiffer for quick clean-ups.
- -Unlike fabric, leather doesn’t absorb smells and odors (especially cigarette smoke).
- -Real leather is aesthetically pleasing and gives your home an upscale look.
- -All types of leather can be difficult to repair if ripped or stained.
- -Leather-covered couches are expensive; particularly those made with top-grain leather.
- -Disreputable couch makers may use different leather types to cut manufacturing costs.
- -Leather can be hot and sticky; not the best material pick if you live in the tropics.
- -Hair and skin oils transfer easily, so keeping surfaces clean can be an ongoing task.
Couch Covering: Faux Leather
- Polyamide Microfiber
- -You get the upscale look you crave without emptying your bank account.
- -Perfect for homeowners who support animal rights causes and refuse to buy animal hide.
- -Faux leathers are designed to match all leather types, so there’s plenty of variety.
- -Synthetic leathers are usually UV fade resistant so positioning a couch in a sunny area won’t harm it.
- -For environmentalists: new faux leathers include cork leather from oak trees (called Swedish Koskinn) and ocean leather made from kelp.
- -PVC faux leather can be harder to clean than the other poly-leather types.
- -While polyurethane “breathes,” PVC doesn’t, so sitting on a couch in a hot room could be torture.
- -Artificial leathers don’t wear well over time and surfaces are easily damaged.
- -You won’t find the hypo-allergenic properties of real leather in these simulated fabrics.
- -Pet claws are pet claws: your cats and dogs won’t be able to tell the difference either!
Couch covering: One-of-a-kind, off-the-grid materials
- elastic shapes
- contoured carpet
- faux furs
- -Own a one-of-a-kind sofa that has no equal on Earth.
- -Put recyclable materials to use that may otherwise have been thrown out.
- -Re-purpose materials used for other interior furnishings.
- -Try your hand at a DIY project to wind up with a uniquely-upholstered couch.
- -Save money using fabric not classified “upholstery grade,” which usually costs more.
- -Your creative thinking may compromise the life of the couch if the material you use isn’t dense.
- -Not everyone has the skills to re-upholster a couch with unorthodox materials.
- -Hire an upholsterer to craft your unusual couch and you could spend as much as you’d pay for leather.
- -Would your pet respect your one-of-a-kind couch? You decide.
- -Not every material you choose has what it takes repel dirt, stains, soil and damage.