Recliner Upholstery Options: Which One is Best?

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Blog

The one thing recliners are most known for is comfort. That is the biggest selling point, regardless of size, shape, or style. Did you know, though, that the upholstery of the chair plays a big part in this?

Upholstery choices are notorious for changing people’s minds after purchase. It’s no wonder because scratchy, absorbent material can influence not only the feel but the smell of the chair and the room it is in.

Recliner Upholstery Options: Textiles or Leather? 

Generally, the choice is between leather and fabric which are on entirely different ends of the upholstery spectrum. As such, we will dive a little deeper into them.


The most appealing attributes of leather are:
• It lasts much longer than fabric, going up to several years.
• Since it is impermeable, it is very easy to clean.
• It is capable of withstanding a lot of wear and tear.

However, while leather has its good points, it is important to note that there are several types of leather and they do not all behave in the same fashion.

There are four main types; genuine leather, bonded leather, PU leather, and PVC leather. Your choice in leather comes down to the battle between natural and synthetic. If you have animals, leather may not be the best option. Consider investing in a cover or a slipcover so your animals don’t ruin the material.

Natural Leather Options

• Genuine leather is made from animal hide. It is the most durable of the four and comes in different subcategories as well. These categories are full grain, split grain, aniline and pigmented leather.

• Bonded leather, on the other hand, is made from recycled leather materials. It is still strong and durable, with the added feature of being eco-friendly.

Synthetic Leather Options

• Polyurethane leather, or faux leather, is the closest synthetic alternative to leather. It is soft and supple, even wrinkling when stitched. It is also lightweight, breathable, and much cheaper than genuine leather.

• Polyvinylchloride leather, or vinyl, is pliant plastic. It is not environmentally friendly, as it uses plasticizers, fillers, and additives to achieve its look. The final product is this plastic backed by a woven material. It is featured as fire and moisture resistant, and durable.


There are several types of fabric that can be used in upholstery, which are also divided into synthetic and natural materials. Below are the most common of both.

Natural Fabrics

These fabrics tend to be soft and versatile, taking to dyes well.


Cotton, while having a soft, breathable and easy to maintain reputation, is usually not used on its own. This is because it has the unfortunate quality of fading and wrinkling over time. It is often blended together with either polyester, linen or nylon to improve its strength, texture and dirt resistance.


This is popular in colder climates, as it has a warm and soft feel. However, it fades over time and is not easy to clean. It also attracts moths, which can destroy the fabric.


Smooth, soft and lustrous, linen is very durable, with a built-in resistance to moths and corrosion. Cotton is usually paired with it for elasticity.

Synthetic Fabrics

These fabrics tend to be longer lasting and more affordable than natural fabrics.


It is usually blended with other fibers, both natural and synthetic, to reduce fading and wrinkles. However, it is not compatible with wool. It is a strong choice for daily use on your furniture.


This is not a stand-alone fabric, as it is made of polyester or nylon. At times, the two are blended, giving its signature soft and comfortable texture. This fabric is very forgiving, durable and easy to clean.


It has a similar texture to wool and is fairly cheap and easy to care for despite being difficult to clean. The material is, however, stain and fade resistant. Often, it is blended with natural fabrics to add durability to the upholstery.

Barry White

Chief Editor and Furniture Expert for


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