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What are the most durable fabrics for upholstered furniture

Furniture, as a central part of any home for all members of a family - including those of a furry kind, has to deal with daily wear and tear, which inevitably worsens over time.

Choosing the right fabric for furniture ensures it lasts for a long time and can handle daily usage. The wrong materials will easily split and fade, meaning you'll have to replace the upholstery quicker than you'd like.

But which fabrics can stand the test of time? Find out in our guide to choosing the most durable fabrics for upholstered furniture.

Quality furniture can last long, the fabric needs to be hard wearing too.

Things to consider when choosing upholstery fabric

All fabrics have unique properties, but choosing the right one for your next upholstery project ensures you create a piece of furniture that lasts for a long time. Several factors contribute to the durability of upholstered fabrics.

Let's take a look at them.

Abrasion resistance

Fabrics with high abrasion resistance can withstand friction and rubbing without significant damage. For example, materials with a high rub count will handle general wear and tear better than less durable fabric.

Stain resistance

Stains are inevitable, especially in households with children or pets, but some fabrics are naturally better at repelling them.

Choosing materials with stain-resistant finishes can add extra protection, but some fabrics naturally repel liquids, and they'll always be the better option.


A durable fabric will retain its colour even when exposed to sunlight. Colourfast fabrics can remain vibrant and won't fade, while some fabrics will most likely lose their colour over time.

Anti-pilling properties 

If you've ever seen those small balls on your sofa, it's called pilling. As fabric fibres begin to tangle, they eventually form small balls, impacting your furniture's texture. However, fabrics with pilling-resistant properties will maintain their smooth appearance.

The most durable fabric choices

So, now you know more about the importance of durable fabrics for upholstered furniture; it's time to reveal our top choices to keep your sofa and chairs looking as good as new for the long term.


Cotton is an excellent choice for upholstery fabric, as it doesn't fade quickly and can withstand general wear and tear. The fabric is also one of the most affordable choices out there, and it offers supreme comfort.

While cotton is prone to stains, many fabrics have a stain-resistant finish that gives the furniture more longevity. Denim and sailcloth are more durable than other cotton variants, and you should always choose a pure blend for quality.

Pros of cotton: 

  • It has a soft texture and offers comfort.

  • Cotton has superior breathability features.

  • It's easy to wash cotton. Regular care will ensure it lasts longer.

Cons of cotton: 

  • Cotton tends to absorb stains and moisture.

  • It can wrinkle easily and lacks elasticity.


Leather is one of those timeless materials that never loses its appeal. As one of the most popular upholstery fabrics, leather automatically gives any sofa a smooth and classy appeal.

While it does require care and maintenance, leather is highly durable and great for households with pets as it hides away scratches. The fabric also becomes softer over time and has water-resistant properties.

Pros of leather: 

  • It has tons of aesthetic appeal.

  • Leather doesn't absorb smells easily.

  • Leather furniture can last for years.

Cons of leather: 

  • Leather can crack over time.

  • It can be hard at first - although leather does soften over time.


Microfibre is a great fabric for upholstery because it's practical, resilient and low-maintenance. The synthetic fabric uses a combination of nylon and polyester fibres, creating a tight weave that can handle heavy-duty use.

What makes microfibre such a popular material is its strain-resistant properties, which don't allow liquid to seep through. Also, pets can't scratch the surface due to the tightly woven fibres, minimising the risks of damage.

Pros of microfibre fabric: 

  • The colourfast fabric will last a long time.

  • Microfibre fabric repels water.

  • It's comfortable.

Cons of microfibre fabric: 

  • Stains can set into the sofa if you don't wipe them immediately.

  • Microfibre has static properties, which means it does attract dust.


Olefin is a common upholstery fabric, as it's very durable and has a wool-like texture. Furniture that regularly experiences heavy usage can benefit from olefin as it has superb durability and a long lifespan.

Moreover, olefin is an absolute breeze to clean and won't lose its colour easily.

Pros of olefin: 

  • It's water-resistant and doesn't stain easily.

  • The plastic pellets in olefin mean it's one of the more durable fabrics.

  • Olefin is resistant to discolouration and mildew.

Cons of olefin: 

  • Olefin tends to become brittle if exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods.

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Choosing the right upholstery fabric for your needs

Knowing which suits your unique needs is challenging with so many excellent fabrics available. Before jumping into a purchase, consider the following factors.

Is it for decoration or living?

You'll first need to consider whether your furniture is for decorative purposes or everyday usage. High-traffic areas require fabrics that can withstand frequent use and potential spills, while formal areas can accommodate more delicate fabrics.

Assess durability

Look for fabrics with high durability ratings, especially for furniture you'll use frequently. You can find out how durable your chosen fabric is by looking at the rub count. Materials with high double rub counts offer more resistance to wear and tear.

To know how strong the upholstery fabric is, stretch the material to see how tight the weaves are. You can also sit on furniture to see how quickly it returns to its original form. 

The fabric composition

All fabrics have unique characteristics, and their composition plays a part in their durability. Here are a few common options:

  • Natural fibres: Fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk offer a luxurious feel but sometimes lack the durability of synthetic fibres.

  • Synthetic fibres: Polyester, nylon, and acrylic are known for their durability and resistance to fading, staining, and wrinkling. They're a good choice for high-traffic areas but can lack aesthetic appeal.

  • Blends: Fabrics that combine natural and synthetic fibres can balance comfort and durability. For example, a cotton-polyester combination can provide the softness of cotton and the strength of polyester.

Consider colour and pattern options

Remember to choose a colour and pattern that complements your existing décor and blends well with the rest of the room. Patterns can add visual interest and are ideal for character properties, while neutral tones epitomise contemporary design.

Check the maintenance requirements

Some fabrics are easy to clean, while others may require professional cleaning. If you have pets or young children, stain-resistant or easy-to-tear upholstery fabrics might not be the best option.

Testing it yourself is the easiest way to ensure your upholstery fabric is durable. Spend time checking the quality of the material before making a purchase, order samples, and ask friends and family.

Let your pets claw the material and spill drinks and ketchup; this is how to get an idea of wear and tear.

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If you're looking for durable upholstery fabrics for your furniture, the Yorkshire Fabric Shop offers various fabrics. Check out all our upholstery fabrics on our very own Fabric Finder wizard; click a few options and look at your options.


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