Pros and Cons of Soft Fabric Materials for Upholstery

28 March 2018

Soft fabrics have always been something of a desirable feature when it comes to upholstery, thanks in part to the added comfort and coziness that it provides. Soft fabrics were a popular upholstery choice in the mid-70s to late 80s, when everything plush, soft and comfortable was equated with the concept of ‘groovy’.

However, such materials, while they are in and of themselves desirable, and still quite applicable to this day, have drawbacks that may turn off someone who prefers a more ‘low-maintenance’ type of furniture. This is not to say that soft fabrics are altogether a bad thing because they also provide advantages that more popular options of today cannot provide.

If you’re interested in revamping your furniture through reupholstery, and you are considering soft fabrics as a great alternative to leather or leatherette, then here are some of the pros and cons you have to know before you make the switch:


  • Affordability – fabric is a far more affordable choice than the obviously pricier leather, and the still pricey leatherette. If you are on a tight budget, but want to revamp your pre-existing upholstery, fabric is the way to go.
  • Variety – unlike leather and its alternatives, soft fabric materials comes in a wide assortment of colours, textures, and styles, which means there is bound to be something that will fit your tastes or match your current home or business aesthetics.
  • Versatility – unlike leather and leatherette which can be quite difficult to style, fabric lends itself well to techniques like layering and folding, which not only adds more dimension to your upholstery, but also gives off an added touch of flair, which is always a welcome aspect.


  • Permeability – one of the most common drawbacks of cloth upholstery is its permeability to moisture, and, by extension, its lack of stain resistance. The softer a fabric is, the more prone it will be to collecting moisture and retaining stains.
  • Sagging – because of its permeability to moisture, soft fabric upholstery will also eventually sag, sometimes even faster than leather and leather alternatives. The only way to prevent this is to ensure that your furniture remains dry, which requires frequent airing-out.
  • Tears – fabric is softer than leather, and will have a propensity to tear with time and age. Moist, unaired fabrics will also be more prone to tearing, and the only way to repair tears will be through patches or reupholstery.

Irrespective of its cons, fabric materials nevertheless offers a versatile, affordable, and readily accessible way to jazz up your furniture without spending a fortune.

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