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Upholstery Fabric

Upholstery is a fantastic way to breathe new life and love into an old piece of furniture. It can also make existing furniture more comfortable, like taking a hard wooden chair and making it into a cushy place to sit for dinner. When it comes to upholstery fabrics, there are many to choose from, all of which, depending on their desired use, have distinct advantages and a few drawbacks. Here are a few of the most common fabrics used in upholstery and how each one can give you the look and feel that you are looking for.


Soft to the touch and beautiful to look at, suede is not the most popular kind of upholstery fabric, but it is becoming more common. The main benefits is its sheer beauty, but it requires special care for cleaning.

Pros: Soft and beautiful, available in multiple colors.

Cons: Requires special cleaning products. Avoid use in high traffic or pet-friendly areas.


Linen isn't just for great-looking and breathable suits, it's also a common upholstery fabric. Made with a very tight weave, especially with upholstery linen, it has a soft touch that makes it one of the smoothest fabrics available.

Pros: Extra smooth to the touch, resistant to pilling and fading, professional cleaning makes it look like new.

Cons: Not ideal for heavy wear-and-tear, soils and wrinkles easily.


The cotton used for upholstery is tougher than what they use for t-shirts. Think denim or corduroy in terms of weight. Since cotton is so versatile and familiar, it is a very common upholstery fabric and incredibly easy to maintain.

Pros: Easy care, resistant to sunlight, an incredible number of options for colour and pattern.

Cons: Holds stains – use a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.


Leather stands as one of the original materials used to cover furniture and it is making a comeback. Now with new colors, textures and malleability, working with leather has never been easier, especially for upholstery.

Pros: Durable, resistant to sunlight damage, ages well.

Cons: Requires special cleaning products and regular treatments.


One of the hardiest upholstery fabrics available, wool is usually quite coarse when sold as an upholstery fabric. It can withstand a lot of abuse but it doesn't necessarily keep comfort in mind. Many wool upholstery fabrics are blended with different materials to make it softer and more comfortable.

Pros: Extremely durable, can withstand sunlight and water

Cons: May require professional cleaning, may shrink


One of the more unlikely upholstery fabrics, vinyl, is proving a popular alternative to leather, having many of leather's same benefits but at a much more affordable price point. Vinyl can also come in myriad colors and textures, making it perfect for almost any upholstery project.

Pros: Low maintenance and easy to clean, very durable.

Cons: Scuffs are common, may crack if over exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time.

Upholstery has many different benefits, from breathing new life into your old furniture to remaking a solid piece into something extra special. It is an opportunity to give something a personalized, unique touch that absolutely no one else has, and it can be an excellent opportunity to give a unifying look to a room. If you are looking for top quality upholstery fabrics, Swanky Fabrics has thousands of options in all kinds of patterns. So whether you are redoing your old couch or turning a couple of chairs into beautiful and comfortable pieces of furniture, there is an upholstery fabric for you.