There are some questions in life which are eternal. Such as, what was the best thing before sliced bread? Why is there a light in the fridge and not the freezer? And how come abbreviated is such a long word?  

All imponderables, we think you’ll agree. And for some, there’s another to add into the mix: what’s best, a leather sofa or a fabric sofa?  Thankfully, we’re on hand to help you with this one…. 

Ullswater Leather Chesterfield Sofa Ullswater Leather Chesterfield Sofa

Perhaps the best way to decide between leather or fabric is to first ask another question: what do we all look for in any sofa? Comfort. Tick. Style. Tick. Durability. Tick. Value. Tick. So using these universal categories, let’s get ready to rumble as fabric takes on leather in the sofa showdown… 

Comfort: which sofa claims the comfy crown?  

Whilst factors such as frames, springs and cushioning all play an important role in how comfy a sofa is, in this case, let’s assume everything is standard except the material on the outside.  

As a rule of thumb, fabric is generally thought to be comfier than leather. When you think about leather seats in a car, they can become really hot when the sun’s out. It can be the same story indoors. Leather tends to absorb heat quicker and can be a little sticky to sit on. And when it’s cold, it can be uncomfortably chilly too.

Of course, you can accessorise your leather sofa with fabric throws, but you lose out on that lustrous leather look.  

Round 1: Fabric 1 Leather 0  

Levico Fabric Sofa Levico Fabric Sofa

Style: who is the fairest sofa of them all?  

Whilst this one comes down to personal taste, there’s a lot to be said for both leather and fabric.  On the one hand, leather really makes a statement and in general sets a more sophisticated tone to a room. On the other, fabric comes in a much bigger array of colours and patterns, so can work with a wider array of colour schemes and décor.

So it really depends on what you’re after. Nothing really beats a leather Chesterfield for that traditional cosy and slightly clubby feel. Whereas if you want to get a bit more fresh and funky then fabric can take you wherever you want to go.  

Round 2: Fabric 1 Leather 1  

Durability: does fabric or leather last longest? 

A sofa is quite an investment in your home’s interior styling, so you want to get as much enjoyment out of it as possible. Ideally, it needs to be hard wearing and easy to maintain so it keeps the good looks you fell in love with in the first place.

By its very nature, leather is more durable than fabric and so will last on average last at least five years longer. And whilst fabric sofas can come with a stain repellent treatment, leather is easy to clean with just a quick wipe. Which makes it a sensible choice if you have little ones (or clumsy adults) around the place. Also, as any parent will testify, children love to play on sofas and fabrics can easily start to look a little worn under the strain, whereas leather is less yielding.

Something else to bear in mind is allergies – without a regular clean and vac, fabric sofas can be a trap for dust mites and pet fur, whereas leather tends to be hypoallergenic. 

Round 3: Fabric 0 Leather 1  

Acacia Leather Sofa Acacia Leather Sofa

Value: which sofa gives you most for your money?  

As with anything, the price you pay for your sofa reflects the quality of the material used. And whilst leather sofas are perceived to be more expensive, that’s not always the case when lined up alongside a premium fabric sofa.

When it comes to value, you need to take into account the other criteria we’ve used here and factor in things like comfort, cleaning and even allergies. The sofa that ticks most boxes for you is the one which offers the best investment. 

Round 4: Fabric 1 Leather 1  

Leather vs Fabric Sofas: what’s the verdict?

Looking at the two options objectively, there’s no clear winner here. The victor is ultimately up to you, and depends on your taste, your needs and your interior. If you’ve got young children or pets that make longevity your main concern, then it looks as though a leather sofa could be your match made in heaven. However, if the cosy, comfortable and warm effect of a fabric sofa feels like home to you, then that’s where your heart resides.

So which sofa is best? Let’s recap.

Why choose a leather sofa?

A leather sofa is a timeless classic, and will often age beautifully and get even better looking over time. You also needn’t worry about staining as much as you would with a fabric sofa, and can simply mop up any spills. Undeniably, the sophisticated feel of a leather sofa cannot be imitated, and is great for styling with thick throws and cushions for a little more cosiness in the winter. Leather is the more hypoallergenic choice, too.

Vincenzo Leather Sofa Vincenzo Leather Sofa

Why choose a fabric sofa?

A fabric sofa arguably gives you more choice in terms of style, with plenty of bold colour options and beautiful patterned upholstery on the table. So if a plain look just isn’t for you, then your tastes are probably best suited to this contender. In terms of feel, a fabric sofa will offer more comfort throughout the seasons than a leather sofa, especially if your home tends to let in the cold or retain a lot of heat.

Fern Fabric Sofa Fern Fabric Sofa

Can’t decide between a leather or fabric sofa?   

If you’re still on the fence about which sofa to go for, then you can always do a bit of mixing and matching. A leather two-seater could sit alongside a traditionally styled four seat fabric model to create an eclectic look. Or why not throw in a fabric snuggler or statement leather chair to break things up a bit?

You could even go for a leather and fabric sofa so you get the best of both worlds.  

Darwin Leather and Fabric Sofa Darwin Leather and Fabric Sofa

Whatever your decision, there are plenty of leather and fabric sofas to choose from in the Barker and Stonehouse collection. With something to suit every space and taste, you’re sure to be happy with either choice.

FAQs

Do leather sofas last longer than fabric?

Thanks to their hardy outer layer and firm feel, leather sofas can generally be expected to last better than fabric sofas, but in some cases they can crack or split without proper care. Leather also offers a distinctive look that won’t suddenly go out of style, whereas with trendy fabric sofas, such as those in crushed velvet or geometric patterns, there may be an expiration date – so that’s something to consider, too.

Is leather more durable than fabric? 

While leather is much easier to clean and tends to have a tougher finish, it’s more prone to scratching than fabric. However, certain fabrics can be especially susceptible to fading or sagging. Whether you choose a leather or fabric sofa, it’s important to know how to look after it. All of the stunning sofas in our collection will last well for many years ahead if treated properly, so be sure to consult any care information you receive with your purchase.

Fabric or leather, which is easier to repair?

Regardless of whether you’re treating a fabric or leather sofa, this would depend entirely upon the extent of the damage. Some of our more expensive leathers may require specialist treatment, whereas a cigarette burn in fabric upholstery may look more severe. If accidental damage to your sofa is a worry, then we’d advise adding a protection plan to your purchase for peace of mind.