What is the most durable sofa fabric?

The fabric that covers your sofa needs to stand up to everyday life and last a long time. With care, it should still look great in years to come. There are various materials to choose from, each with their own pro’s and con’s.

But what’s the trick to picking the most long-lasting fabric? Is it the number of rubs? What about the weave? What about the cost?

All of this and more is explained in this helpful guide to choosing a durable fabric.

Factors that determine the durability

  • Fabric weave – tight weave or loose weave
  • Fabric content, percentage of synthetics and natural fibers
  • Durability testing, aka rub test

While it’s tempting to choose the most beautiful looking fabric, it’s critical to think about how durable your materials are before making a decision.

Consider polyester for the ideal combination of eye-catching and practicality. Polyester is a robust synthetic fiber that is abrasion-resistant and comes in a variety of colours.

Take note of the weave

Remember that the tighter the weave of the fabric, the more durable it is. Look for fabric with woven designs; they tend to last longer than those with printed patterns.

If you have pets who like to nap on the sofa, use tightly woven materials. Any stray threads could become entangled in their claws and create snagging.

Twill is an example of a tightly-wound cloth. This tough weave contains a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs created by interlacing tightly packed yarns. As a result, the material is more durable and water-resistant.

Also, choose a fabric with a high thread count. Stretch the material to see if it is firmly woven to determine its strength. Furthermore, sitting on the fabric is one of the strategies for determining its durability. If the fabric used is long-lasting, it should return to its original shape.

Look at the rub count

The rub count of your upholstery fabric is an excellent method to determine its longevity.

The ‘rub count’ also none as the martindale test is the number of times a machine can ‘rub’ away at the fibres of a cloth before they break down. The greater the rub count, the longer the cloth takes to wear down. These are the most long-lasting fabrics.

Examine the fabric composition


Currently the most on trend fabric is Velvet, which is soft to the touch and hard-wearing. It has a luxurious feel and a unique soft and shiny appearance. It is the pile of this material that makes it stand head and shoulders above the rest. The fibers all fall in the same direction, which make it a very smooth and inviting fabric to the touch.

The very first velvet’s were made from silk and as such resulted in a hefty price tag. Nowadays pure silk velvet is rare and even more costly, therefore today most velvet’s that are marketed as silk velvet combine both silk and rayon.

Rayon or Nylon velvet’s are a good option to go for if you’re on a tight budget, but still want the benefits of the softness of silk velvet. These types of velvet are also very easy to maintain too.

Mohair velvet is made from the hair of Angora goats. It is a high quality velvet that’s designed to withstand heavy usage and resists dirt and crushing. This should be your number one go to velvet for areas of seating that will be heavily used.

Linen velvet is recommended for use in warmer climates due to the fact it’s breathable and cool. It has a matte look, resulting in rich colour.

Crushed velvet has a crinkle look. This type of velvet refracts light in every direction and has a great shimmer which makes it pleasing to the eye. Generally velvet is very easy to care for and only needs a regular vacuuming to keep it looking great. It’s usually resistant to stains. However if a spillage does occur then wipe the liquid immediately with a damp, clean cloth. As with most fabrics, avoid placing in direct sunlight.


Another option to consider is a wool blend fabric. This is essentially wool fibers blended with synthetic and/or natural fibers. A wool blend fabric is fairly tough and won’t get damaged easily.

These add a little texture and warmth. It’s breathable so, although warm and cozy, it won’t get overly warm.

Rayon or Nylon velvet’s are a good option to go for if you’re on a tight budget, but still want the benefits of the softness of silk velvet. These types of velvet are also very easy to maintain too.

It’s perfectly suited for use in upholstery due to its inherent elasticity. It allows curves and angles to be upholstered with the cleanest of lines. They can take a bit more care in terms of keeping clean and neat.

It may even bobble slightly after a few years, but is still a very good choice to consider. A plus point to using this type of fabric is the fact that it is inherently flame-resistant.


Likewise Chenille (French for Caterpillar) is a worthy choice for your home furniture. This can be made from acrylic, rayon, wool, olefin or silk but is more often a woven cotton-polyester blend making it very hard-wearing usually with a whopping 30,000 plus rub count!

The thick pile makes this fabric incredibly luxurious and feels incredibly soft to the touch. It’ll add the wow factor to any home. It will look different when viewed from one direction to the other as the fibers catch the light differently.


For instance Leather is durable and long lasting. Real leather is a natural product and every individual hide will have its own individual characteristics that make it unique.

For instance some hides may bear the markings of their natural origins such as scratches or growth marks. It may well crease over the years if used regularly, but this only adds to its character. It is a natural product at the end of the day. Due to its natural water resistancy, any accidental spillages can easily be mopped up. With regular cleaning and feeding the leather will last well.

One downside unfortunately and anyone that owns a car with leather seats will tell you – It can be a little chilly at first to sit on in winter and a bit sticky on a hot summer’s day.

There are few types to consider, such as pigmented leather. This is the most durable type for use in furniture upholstery due to having a polymer surface coating which contains pigments. After the surface coating is applied, the grain is then embossed into the leather. This makes for a highly durable and blemish free leather, that’s much easier to maintain.

Aniline leather is another type commonly used in furniture upholstery. This is the most natural-looking type, as the natural texture of the skin is visible and for this reason attracts a higher price tag. It’s a porous, smooth leather and doesn’t have a pigmented colour applied to the surface. It feels natural, soft and warm to the touch.

This type of leather however does require a bit of maintenance to keep it looking its best. Semi-Aniline is a more robust version of Aniline leather that still retains a natural look and feel. It has a slight pigmented layer to the surface which offers a small amount of protection and durability and doesn’t completely seal the natural grain and pores of the leather.


Because fabrics are impacted by sunshine and heat, we advise keeping your upholstered or leather sofa away from direct light and heat sources, such as radiators.

It would be good practice to have a fabric stain protector applied from new. By applying the stain protector, you are given a small amount of time for any liquids spillages to sit on top of the surface to allow you to quickly clean it away.