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Sofa upholstery showdown: leather, upholstery fabric and vegan leather


A sofa, like a bed, is a great opportunity to invest in your future. A quality couch will last you for years, so it’s important that you choose one that suits your personal interior style, your home and, in these times of responsible consumerism, even your values.

First, however, you have some questions to ask yourself, one of which has plagued mankind for centuries: when it comes to couches, which upholstery should I choose?

Leather or fabric? What are the alternatives?

First: who will be using this beautiful sofa?

Today we help you decide on the best upholstery for you. The best place to begin is with where the furniture will be situated, and who is (typically) going to use it.

Is the furniture going to be in a room that gets a lot of use? Or will it be somewhere quieter? Will it be beside a window with daylight streaming in all day? Will it be exposed to the elements, as in a pergola, for example?

Who will be enjoying this piece of furniture? Count in everybody, from babies, children, and teenagers to adults and even animals.

Now, hold all these potential couch-users in mind. Take a step back and assess your upholstery material as follows:

  • Feel. Does the couch feel inviting to sit on and touch? Great!
  • Maintenance. How easy is it to keep that couch feeling so inviting?
  • Spills. Accidents happen. How will your sofa handle them?
  • Durability. Durability is what ties it all together. In the months and years ahead, will your sofa be durable enough to stay welcoming, be easy to maintain and remain easy to clean?
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FibreGuard's leather-look fabrics are available in a range of colourways

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These high performance leather-look fabrics are easy to clean, stain on stain

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Leather-look fabrics like those in our upholstery ranges are available in a wider colour range than 'real' leather would be

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Leather-look fabrics give the appearance and performance of 'real' leather but with none of the downsides

Fabric upholstery vs genuine leather sofas

Hand-feel. Hand-feel can vary with leather depending on the season – fluctuating throughout those cold winter months or hot summer days. Interestingly, vegan leather alternatives do not have the same extremes when it comes to hot or cold weather, and as a result are comfortable all-year round.

There is so much choice when it comes to colours, characteristics, and designs when you use fabric upholstery on your sofa. Leather upholstery, in comparison, is available in a more succinct colour palette.

Maintenance and spills. Leather performs well when it’s carefully buffed and treated, and, of course, it’s the quality of the leather that really counts at this point. But how should you clean it?

When cleaning leather:

  • Ideally you should use distilled water and a mild, all-purpose cleaning detergent
  • Remember to always test a small area of your leather item first to make sure the cleaning detergent does not damage the material
  • Steam cleaning your leather sofa is also an option
One of FibreGuard's high performance leather-look upholstery ranges, in a creamy 'otter' colour
A design from one of FibreGuard's easy clean fabric upholstery ranges, in a striking 'orchid' colour


Fabric upholstery can be maintained in different ways, depending on the kind of fabric. If your couch is upholstered with FibreGuard’s easy clean fabric, it’s also protected by our stain free technology.

How should you clean upholstery fabric? We’re the experts on our own fabric ranges and styles, so they are what we are focusing on today. Remember:

  • All accidental stains on FibreGuard upholstery fabrics can be removed using only water.
  • Should you have a tougher stain, a small amount of plain white household soap can be used as well as water.
  • It is good to remember though that immediate stain removal will ensure the best result.
  • Visit our How to Clean page for full cleaning instructions.
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FibreGuard fabrics are available in lovely textured designs...

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...with many patterns and colours to choose from

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From soft upholstery with a nappy feel...

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...to plush velvet fabrics

Once clean, let your couch fabric air-dry: it’s always best to do this naturally. Open windows to speed up the drying process if you’d like! Aside from spot-cleaning, fabric upholstery is fully washable and can even be gently vacuumed from time to time to keep it looking fresh.

Durability. Fabric upholstery is so advanced, on so many different performance points, that it is on-par with leather when it comes to durability. High performance upholstery fabrics (like ours!) undergo textile tests in special laboratories to ensure that they’re durable and of a consistent quality.

Choosing sofa upholstery? Look for FibreGuard

FibreGuard upholstery stands head-and-shoulders above other sofa fabric brands out there because all our collections are durable, beautiful, and supremely easy to clean.

Our stain-resistant fabrics come in a wide variety of designs and characteristics, and there’s always a special place in our hearts for your favourite one.

Contact us today to find your local FibreGuard partner.

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