Most Durable Couch Fabric?
Emily Hurley
March 5, 2014
When you have pets, kids, and potentially careless housemates, what is the best fabric to choose for an upholstered couch?

Share your experience! (photos encouraged)

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riderfriend
I have two dogs and I think microfiber is the best. It's easy to clean.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Home Wizards
Microfiber is nice for cleaning spills, but I do find it tends to fade...depending on what color you get. You also have to consider if you like the feel of microfiber--some find it itchy and uncomfortable. Frankly a dark color in a woven fabric can be just as durable and in some cases easier to spot clean. Pottery barn has a tightly woven "textured basketweave" that's great and doesn't snag. But if you want a light colored sofa...you'll have to go with microfiber if you want it to hold up.
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 10:45AM
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Jessica
I grew up around sofas and chairs that were upholstered in velvet or tapestry fabric. You didn't eat on them except when company came and then only appropriate finger foods and tea - and you were CAREFUL. The couch I most recently sold because of a move was leather and it was the easiest I've ever cared for. Spills wiped right up quickly and didn't soak in. Crumbs were easy to vacuum up from between the cushions. The leather was chosen because of an ex who liked to put his boots on the furniture and a dog...not a problem with that couch fur slid right off. Can't have a sofa at my new place, the entry is too tight to bring in anything large, and am evaluating other seating options.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Mark Bischak, Architect
Steel. Not very comfortable and you done see it that often.
5 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Christopher Hoover - Environmental Design Services
I agree with riderfriend - microfiber is the most durable, looks good and has a nice comfy hand to it. The following photo is from a project we did that was for an executive rental apartment. This sofa looked new after years.
4 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 1:35PM
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rredpenn
I love my Pottery Barn slipcovered couch... we have the walnut cotton twill slipcover. I have washed the covers many, many times and they go right back on easily...no fading, shrinking or worries. I don't even have to iron them! After having this couch, I'd never get anything else. (Two sloppy hairy dogs, a cat, and four of us slobs have lived on it daily.) The best thing is after washing them, the whole couch smells...well, like fresh laundry!
9 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Barnhart Gallery
Here in the Northeast, I love a chenille. I call it "the casual velvet." Today's fabrication makes it nearly impervious to stains -- and boy have I given some swatches some rigorous testing.

And Mark was kidding, but Clayton Oxford used to make the most brilliant liquid steel couch -- went out of production before I could use it. It reminded me of the wedding ring I designed for my husband to look as though it's been poured on in molten form.
4 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 5, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Studio M Interior Design
For dog owners, I recommend a low profile leather sectional like the ones from Ikea (depending on budget restraints) because they're inexpensive and have tougher leather that doesn't scratch easily at all. Two Bull Terriers tested and approved with 2 paws up! :)
7 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 6:56AM
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Ann
Just had a couple chairs reupholstered in Crypton. It is supposed to be wonderful for cleaning stains. The chairs look great but I haven't had the fabric long enough to have any stains yet.
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 7:01AM
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lefty47
HI -- Perhaps matching the fabric with the dogs and the kids/housemates ! Faux fur maybe !!! This only works if the kids/housemates are also furry !!!
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 7:07AM
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lefty47
HI -- Microfiber or Sunbrella fabric .
    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Julia Morin
Microfibre is great for clean-ups, pretty much ANYTHING comes out (my toddler decided to use it as a canvas with a ballpoint pen and even that came out easily). I also have a leather sofa and chose a "rougher" finish because I have dogs. Whenever there's a scratch I just rub a little tinted hair conditioner on the scratch and it almost disappears. I've also used shoe polish on deeper scratches with good results.
4 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 7:31AM
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Barnhart Gallery
Lefty, we do that!
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 7:56AM
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Sandi Perry Interiors
Leather is very durable, unless someone takes a sharp object to it...I like microfiber as well, but go for a dark tone so stains won't show. Fabrics will have the amount of double-rubs it can endure before wearing out on the back of the sample label, so look for something above 30,000 rubs. An also ask to have fabric teflon coated, that way liquid will bead on it and not set in.
4 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by Emily Hurley    March 6, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Emily Hurley
I've also been told that microfiber will not be attractive to cat claws? Any truth to that?
3 Likes    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 10:04AM
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dreamingofdesigns
I love my new leather sectional. My 20 pound dog does not scratch the leather. Also, we have already spilled coffee and wine on it. I love that we can just wipe everything up. However, you should make sure it's decent leather. Cheaper leather is thinner and scratches easily. I saved $900 by buying the floor model.
6 Likes    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Outre
Good thoughts on this thread. Microfiber is a decent option if you like the style of the fabric. Microfiber has a good reputation for being easy to clean, however you are limited on the look that you are going after, also microfiber tends to be very directional which means that every time you touch it there will be some sort of mark on the fibers. Attached is an image of a 17' custom sectional with ottomans that we did in a micorfiber. Notice the hand rubs in the fabric. (sorry its blurry, cell phone shot) Another reason that you see that in a lot of "bigger" stores is that they are able to buy Microfiber at a fraction of the cost. There is a reason that C & B and Pottery Barn carry such a fabric. Great for certain applications as long as you are not picky on style.

I read also on here about different leathers. Leather is interesting. Real leather is durable, lets face it cows stand out side pretty much all the time, so the elements are not going to bother leather much. However it will scratch and become distressed the more you use it. That is the nature of leather. Be careful when shopping for leather goods and make sure to ask if it is "Bonded" or real leather. There is a reason that some stores can sell a sofa and loveseat for $1,500. It is because it is "Bonded" and not real. The difference, bonded is basically leather fibers put on a backing. While it has the appearance of real leather, it is way cheaper for manufacturers to use as it comes in standard widths like 54" so it is easier to cut and creates way less waste. Typically you will have 35 to 40% in waste on most real hides and lots of seams on bigger pieces as cows are only so big. Another question to ask with real leather is if the entire sofa is all real leather. Some cheaper manufacturers will use a matching bonded or even a vinyl material to upholster the seat decks and sometimes backs, as there is a lot of material wasted on those two areas on a sofa.

Slip covers are fine too, but a lot like Microfiber, it depends on the style you want. You can wash and reuse and probably even get new ones made if you need to.

Saw Sunbrella, on this thread. Typically Sunbrella will be a bit more expensive as most of their fabrics are Solution Dyed Acrylics. Typically easy to clean, will have more light fastness or protection from UV, but will still fade over time. I recommend you look into Vista Window Film/Enerlogic Film if you are placing this anywhere it may get exposed to sunlight and heat. Especially sunrooms.

Also saw Crypton, sometimes Nanotex is in the same discussion. These are what I would call "technology fabrics." Crypton and/or Nanotex are both processes that help fabrics become more stain resistant, durable, and cleanable. I would recommend reading up on Crypton. Lots of fabrics out there with Crypton technology and I sell a decent amount of crypton coated fabrics, however it typically comes with a price.

So all that being said, lots of good answers for you here. Each fabric has its pros and cons. One thing most people do not realize is that most fabric can be very expensive and most of that has nothing to do with its durability. Sandi was right on when she said 30,000+ double rubs, ask for that information and know that anything over 30k is probably pretty durable and 50-100k is commercial grade, anything over that is great but probably over kill. I have seen fabric that says 1 million double rubs and honestly thread isn't going to last that long so that presents a entire other issue. Check the cleaning code on the fabric. "S" for solvent, "W" for Water Based, " or W/S for both is important is it will tell you what is best to clean whatever fabric you choose with. You can look into products like "Microseal" to treat the fabric to increase the durability, UV protection and cleanability too.

Best of luck. My family has been in the upholstered furniture business for over 40 years and I have had my own custom upholstery shop for 6. Fabric is important but so is great foam and an even better frame. If I can be of any further assistance to any of you please feel free to ask.

Attached is an image of a sofa, light grey, that we did in a Barrow Fabric, Above and Beyond Color Hemp. 45,000 Double Rubs, Stain Resistant to Red Wine, Cola, and Water, W/S Cleaning Code, and Anti Static, which helps make pet hair easy to vacuum off.

The Last image, blue/grey sectional is of another sectional that we did and had it "Microsealed". I tried to keep the styles similar in the photos so you could see a few things that were close style wise. Lots of information out there, hope this helps you narrow down your search.
22 Likes    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:10AM
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Dorothy Kemper
I have two sofas done in crypton. The fabric is from France. I've had them for 6 1/2 years now with no issues from dogs or grandchildren!
    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Dream Interior ReDesign & Real Estate Staging
I have cats and have found microfiber to be the one that their claws don't like. My choice.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Libbmom
The first photo I saved to idea book was sofa in Crypton...would love to hear what the fabric is like...feel, etc. I have a sofa that I may recover....how expensive is this fabric?
    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:26PM
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Dorothy Kemper
My crypton fabric looks somewhat like a grass cloth. I can upload a picture tomorrow if it will help... On a scale of 1-10 in price for the fabrics I looked at, crypton was probably an 8.
4 Likes    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Libbmom
Thanks...that would be great...
    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Kristi Dodson_Skinkis
I would not ever go with an upholstered couch. Slipcovers all the way. Slipcovers over the upholstery. They can be custom made very inexpensively. I have a huge sectional, a custom cover off of Etsy is around $600. A ton less if you can sew. In our house we don't have an eat in kitchen so food tends to travel to the couch. We are messy. We spill. Sometimes I swear that the couch is a dirt magnet! It is very easy to just strip the cover off and toss it into the wash. When it comes out, good as new! Everything in my house is slipcovered. It was either that or plastic wrap.
4 Likes    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:10PM
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heathermhass
There is also a wide array of Sunbrella indoor upholstery fabric, which I believe also comes with a 5 year warranty
    Bookmark   October 10, 2014 at 5:46PM
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