Types of Furniture Fabric

As anyone purchasing new furniture or getting old furniture reupholstered knows, there is a huge selection of furniture fabrics. Each type of furniture fabric is woven differently and must be cleaned in a certain fashion, and some fabrics tend to wear out quicker than others. These are all factors to consider when choosing furniture or the type of furniture fabric to reupholster with.


One of the two basic types of furniture fabric is synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fabrics include acetate, acrylic, microfiber, nylon, olefin, polyester, rayon and vinyl. Synthetic fabrics are man-made fabrics made to mimic the qualities of natural fabrics. Synthetics work wonderfully in households with persons allergic to certain fibers. Synthetics are made to mimic silk, wool, linen, cotton, leather and suede.

Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics, the second basic type of furniture fabric, are being used frequently in modern days as eco-friendly fashion and design have become a trend in interior decorating. Natural fabrics include cotton, cotton blends, leather, linen, silk and wool. Each natural fabric has a specific quality that may make it more desirable for various uses; for example, some natural fabrics are more easily cleaned than other natural fabrics, while some others last longer. Natural fabrics are the basis for the reproduction of synthetic fabrics.


The various fabrics of both the natural and synthetic type each offer different distinguishing characteristics and features. Cotton furniture fabric's features include its ease of spot cleaning and resistance to fading and wear. Leather offers extreme ease of cleaning and resistance to wrinkles. Linen resists pilling and fading but wrinkles and soils easily and must be professionally cleaned to prevent it from shrinking. The features of each fabric type should be considered for the best fit before a purchase is made.

Cleaning and Care

Furniture manufacturers and re-upholsterers should provide cleaning instructions for your new furniture fabric so that you can avoid mishaps. You may be able to call an upholsterer or dry cleaner to ask about cleaning and care for your specific furniture fabric. New furniture should have a tag somewhere, often on the cushions, guiding you on how to clean the fabric. Generally you should never use a cleaning solvent of any kind on any furniture fabric unless the solvent is designed specifically for that fabric.


Failing to follow cleaning and proper care guidelines for the furniture's fabric type may result in unsightly stains or holes in the fabric. If a stain or mess cannot be removed from the fabric with water or dry vacuuming, a dry-cleaner or upholsterer should be contacted to avoid ruining the fabric with home remedies. The best prevention for such problems is to avoid eating and drinking while using the furniture, having the furniture coated in stain-resistance chemicals, or using furniture covers.

Stephanie Daniels

Stephanie Daniels is a freelance writer residing in Louisa, Kentucky. Daniels focuses on parenting, children, gardening and home-decor articles. She was the manager of Home Decor for Home Depot for 4 years. Daniels has written for many online publications and enjoys ghostwriting.