Different Types of Upholstery Fabrics and Their Uses


Different Types of Upholstery Fabrics and Their Uses

The different types of fabrics used in upholstery are many, and each comes with unique properties that make it suited for certain applications. Knowing how each material handles specific circumstances will allow you to avoid purchasing less-than-ideal fabrics. When you’re setting out to reupholster your old furniture, keep in mind what you’ll use it for, where you’ll put it, and to what you’re exposing it.


Cotton is both the most widely used fabric and the cheapest you’ll find. Cotton has a soft texture and is relatively durable against outside forces, giving it the ability to hold up better in harsher conditions. This durability also allows the fabric to fade at a slower pace than other materials. However, despite its durability, cotton can stain easily.

Best Use for Cotton

Typically, cotton is best for upholstering casual, everyday furniture. It is cheap and comfortable, but you should keep it away from items that may stain it, such as food and liquids.


Leather is the most durable fabric with which you’ll upholster furniture. It can stand up to a lot of punishment and will last for years longer than weaker materials. Along with its longevity, it is also easy to remove hair and other particles from the surface of leather furniture.

Best Use for Leather

If your furniture is constantly in use and needs to stand up against guests and pets alike, you may want to invest in leather upholstery.


While not to the same level as leather, wool is still a durable material resistant to staining. But even though wool is a durable fabric, it is still susceptible to water; if someone were to spill a glass of water on wool, you might be able to dry it, but there may be a lingering smell afterward.

Best Use for Wool

If your furniture needs to hold up over a long period of time and after substantial use, wool can be a cheaper alternative to leather.


Silk is among the most expensive options for furniture upholstery. The material is exceptionally soft and comfortable, and many people consider it the most visually pleasing fabric. Silk also has a broad color spectrum because it is very easy to dye.

Best Use for Silk

Because of its comfort and expense, silk is best for furniture in formal settings that you don’t use on a regular basis.

Have the Right Tools for the Job

When looking into the different types of upholstery fabrics and their uses, you will also need to invest in the right tools to ensure you do not damage the fabrics or the structure of the furniture. Your most vital tool, aside from the fabric, is a pneumatic upholstery stapler, which allows you to anchor the fabric to the wood easily. Using anything else runs the risk of damaging the wood and the fabric.