What is the most durable fabric for upholstery?

Even the most durable fabric in a home cannot prevent your furniture from getting worn, damaged or stained over time. As furniture plays a central role in almost every household across the globe, there is bound to be some wear and tear eventually. 

Once your furniture has become worn, you may look to get it reupholstered instead of forking out for new furniture entirely. But if you’re family is a little more on the heavy handed side, you might be wondering, what is the most durable fabric for upholstery?

Considering the right fabric

Before you choose the fabric that you want for your reupholstery, you need to ensure that you understand the unique qualities of a quality durable fabric. Afterall, this fabric should last your furniture a long time.

Is the fabric stain resistant?

Stains can come from anywhere. Food, pets, even your own jeans can leave a mark and stain your sofa. But did you know some fabrics are better at resisting stains compared to others?

If stains are the issue for you, then here are some of the most durable fabrics for avoiding stains:

  • Olefin
  • Leather
  • Polyester
  • Acrylic

Be sure to check with your local upholstery expert before choosing which material you’d prefer for your furniture to avoid stains. 

Can it withstand general wear?

Some fabrics out there are built to withstand high abrasion, making them more durable fabrics for busy households. When choosing a material to withstand general wear and tear, be sure to look fabrics with a high rub count. 

If you’re looking for fabric for your outdoor upholstery, you will need to ensure that it can withstand all weathers including heats, rain, wind and frost. 

Will the colour fade?

If you’ve got a piece of furniture that you think might be getting exposed to a lot of sunlight, you need to consider the colour fastness of fabric. Unlike some stains, colour fade is impossible to fix without reupholstery. 

If your furniture is going to be placed in a sunny location, consider these fabrics:

  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Acrylic 
  • Nylon
  • Polyester


Choosing lighter colours will also help avoid the fabric fading more when exposed to the sun. 

How is your fabric going to get used?

Other than the factors that make your fabric durable, you should consider the purpose and situation of your fabric. Different fabrics will suit independent needs differently. Before you choose your fabric, consider some of these key factors. 

Fabric Maintenance

Although some fabrics look fantastic, they may require a lot more maintenance such as cleaning. Amongst these materials, some may require a professional upholstery cleaning service.

Be sure to know how to clean upholstery properly before you choose a durable upholstery fabric. 

Know What the Furniture is Being Used For

Think about the purpose of the furniture. Is it going to be used as a decorative piece or will it be expecting a lot of use?

Decorative pieces of furniture can afford to deploy more delicate material as it will not be exposed to heavy usage. Waiting room furniture, living room sofas and restaurant/café chairs, however, will expect a great amount of use. 

On top of this, consider the environment. A restaurant chair can expect to see a few more spills than waiting room furniture. All of these factors are important when considering the ideal durable fabric for your next reupholstery work. 


Although not a matter of durability per say, but it is important to get a style that will hopefully stand the test of time in terms of fashion. 

As styles come and go, you may be inclined to change the upholstery or the furniture all together if the style you choose now goes out of fashion, even if the fabric isn’t worn yet.   

So, what are the most durable fabrics?

Although there is a lot to consider, some fabrics do fair better than others. Each with their own pros and cons, these fabrics are deemed more durable than some of the other options on the market. 


Leather has been used for decades. It’s a timeless fabric that is used for a variety of different purposes that’s to the fabric being more durable than most others. 

Pros of Leather

  • Fits most aesthetic situations
  • Does absorb moisture or stains
  • Lasts longer than most other materials

Cons of Leather

  • Isn’t as comfortable as other fabrics
  • Can dry out and crack 


Cotton is an incredibly affordable and common fabric and has therefore been used for a variety of different things other than furniture. Like every fabric, it does have its drawbacks but it’s also more durable than many others.

Pros of Cotton

  • Much less resistant to fading 
  • Resists general wear more than other fabrics
  • Doesn’t suffer from pilling
  • More breathable than other fabrics
  • Easy to clean

Cons of Cotton

  • Can stain easily
  • Can wrinkle easier


Olefin is a synthetic fibre that is used from polypropylene or polyethylene. It has many uses outside of furniture thanks to its wool-like nature, making it a favourite for durability. 

Pros of Olefin

  • It’s hard to stain due to its water-resistance
  • It cannot be discoloured

Cons of Cotton

  • Can dry out and become brittle if left in direct sunlight 


Another synthetic fibre, acrylic was originally created as an alternative to traditional organic fabrics such as wool and cotton. The durability of acrylic has made it a popular choice for upholstery, making it another strong contender on this list. 

Pros of Acrylic

  • Very durable 
  • It doesn’t fade like some other fabrics
  • Longer lifespan

Cons of Acrylic 

  • Can be susceptible to pilling after persistent use
  • Caution is required when using some cleaning solutions as it doesn’t react well will alkaline based solutions

Southwest Upholstery for All of your Upholstery Projects Domestic or Commercial

Here at Southwest Upholstery, we have years of experience with furniture upholstery for any project. From single pieces of furniture through to seating for restaurants, bars and clubs. Our specialist team will take you through the whole process, advising and guiding you until you get exactly the look and feel you want.