Upholstered furniture can help make any room in your home achieve the ideal style you are aiming for – classic, modern, colorful, relaxed, or inviting. There are so many important factors to consider when purchasing a new piece of upholstered furniture, but the two most important factors for most individuals are quality and budget. You want to purchase a great piece, and you want it to last for many years to come. So how do you even begin to guess how long the upholstery in your furniture will last? There are several factors to consider.

Understanding Fabrics

In order to understand your upholstery’s lifespan, it is imperative to take a look at the different fabrics available that make up your upholstery, or research these different materials prior to a purchase, and see how they differ. Furniture upholstery, depending on the specific material, falls under one of two types – natural or synthetic. Let’s take a look at the most common upholstery fabrics, categorized by their fiber type.

Natural Fabrics


Though less capable of repelling stains than other natural fabrics, cotton can be woven to be highly durable and resistant to wear and tear. Canvas is a popular material made from cotton that creates a casual and durable upholstery.


A popular choice in furniture upholstery, leather can be easily cleaned and polished with leather conditioner. It is a tough material, but it can become worn and wrinkled on furniture that is used constantly.


Heavy and strong, wool is a good choice in upholstery for daily-use pieces. Wool is usually blended with synthetic fibers to help make it easier to clean, but in general offers good resistance to soil and wear.


Because it doesn’t resist soiling or heavy use, linen upholstered furniture is not a great choice for family and living rooms. Silk fabrics can be labeled with the same warnings. And both linen and silk fabrics require professional cleaning, so that is important to keep in mind when purchasing them.


A cheaper alternative to leather, vinyl is a tough fabric that is easy to wipe clean. However, quality is key with this fabric. A high-quality vinyl will last far longer than inferior types.

Synthetic Fabrics


Almost always blended with other fabrics to create a material that is sturdy and wrinkle resistant, polyester blends are affordable upholstery options that tend to resist wear.


Made from polyester, microfiber is a very popular and affordable choice of upholstery for modern furniture pieces. It is also durable and easy to clean.


Similar to polyester in that it is generally blended with other materials, nylon makes for a durable upholstery. Though it is resistant to staining and wrinkles, it does tend to fade with time more so than other fabrics.


A material created as a wool substitute, acrylic is another fabric that needs to be of a high-quality in order to resist wear. Acrylic can be a good choice as it can be durable and resist wrinkles and fading.


An affordable alternative to silk, cotton and linen, rayon is not ideal for everyday use as it will wrinkle easily. Despite this, it tends to be a highly durable fabric that will resist wear.

In addition to this general run-down of natural and synthetic fabrics, when purchasing upholstered fabric, remember that a quality product will always be the most likely to stand the test of time. And just like you do with your bed sheets, note the thread count in fabric upholstery since a higher thread count means a stronger and more durable upholstery.

Upholstery – Maintenance is Everything

So you’ve done some research and decided the best type of furniture upholstery for you in your home. Great! Whether your upholstered furniture is brand new or a well-settled member of the family, there are several tips to follow in order to keep it looking fab.


Keeping your upholstery clean is obviously important to the piece’s longevity. Depending on the fabric, there are many methods to use. When in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also make sure to vacuum any dust and debris on or under the piece to further prevent wear.


Where possible, make sure to keep your furniture out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will cause your fabric to fade over time, and make leather upholstery crack. Using a plastic or fabric slip cover over furniture will also help prevent fading and wear.


Make sure your furniture manufacturer offers a warranty with great terms in order to ensure your furniture is protected against damage over time.

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