Fabric Recliners vs. Leather Recliners – A Comparison

When friends and family walk into your living space, the piece of furniture that usually stands out the most is your recliner, not only this, your recliner will provide you with many years of comfort and relaxation.
Henceforth, this is why buying the right recliner for your home is a major and lasting decision.

leather Vs fabric - feature

There are plenty of options available on the market, so many styles and functions to choose from, but one of the hardest choices is most likely whether to opt for a fabric or leather recliner.

Figuring out which one between the two is superlative is hard enough as is, then there is also having to choose between different types of leather and fabrics. Believe me, each has their own unique advantages no disadvantages and no one is without flaws or magnificence, it all just boils down to what is best for YOU!

Different Types of Fabric Used for Recliner Upholstery

Fabric Recliners are soft, comfortable and are available in a vast variety of colors, styles and textures, below are some of the natural, and synthetic fabrics available;
leather vs fabric - fabric


A soft and comfortable material that is best suited to recliners that are going to be used frequently and for relaxation purposes. Chenille can be made from both natural threads as well as synthetic rayon threads.

You will seldom get a pure cotton recliner, cotton is usually blended with polyester, rayon or natural linen to improve its texture. Cotton is excellent at resisting soiling and wrinkling and is a fresh and crisp material that is very breathable.

Jute has a rough texture and is an excellent choice for a home with a more rustic feel to it.

Linen, to me, is one of the best choices when it comes to durability and strength. On the contrary, it is moreover very soft and luxurious, also offering a natural resistance to moths, pilling, and abrasion.

Silk, though extremely soft and luxurious, I would most definitely not recommend for homes with children or pets. This material is rather meant for an art piece than a functional recliner.

A woven fabric with thick, short piling, that is soft and lustrous with rich color. Beware though this fabric is relatively challenging to clean!

Wool is a natural fiber, derived from animal hair. Wool, although soft and comfortable in turn is very tough and durable.


Microfibre, for all intents and purposes, is a knitted blend of polyester fabric that is very easy to clean, and comparatively softer than suede. This fabric has good moisture resistance, is durable and surprisingly, very affordable.

If you are looking for a strong and durable material that will not wrinkle easily, then Nylon is your best bet.

Olefin is derived from plastic pellets, which are melted down, it is durable, easy to clean and can hold its color rather well.

Polyester is most likely one of your most affordable options when you compare the price to quality and functionality. Polyester is usually blended with cotton or wool and is strong, easy cleaning, fabric. Polyester is resistant to fading, wrinkling, and abrasion, although it may be subject to piling, with the exception of wool blends.

Rayon is a cellulose-based material, which imitates cotton and linen in appearance and feel, though it is cheaper than the latter.

Different Leather Types Used for Recliner Upholstery

Natural leather is an outstanding choice for a recliner, as it is easy to clean, durable and long lasting. Leather upholstery will differ in price and quality, according to the grade and treatment of the leather, but over-all, genuine leather is rather expensive. The Best Leather Recliner should last you for decades with proper care and maintenance, here are a few leather options;

leather vs fabric - leather

Natural Leather

Full Grain Leather
Full grain leather is the best quality and thickest leather that you will find. In this case, the entire animal hide is used rather than just layers, and any natural marks or imperfections are left precisely intact.

Top-Grain Leather
Second to quality in comparison with Full Grain, top grain leather only uses the top layer of the animal hide.

Corrected-Grain Leather
This type of leather is treated to remove all inconsistencies, and given an artificial texture.

Split Leather
With Split Leather, the underside or drop-split of the hide is used, and an artificial surface layer is bonded to the surface of the leather.

Synthetic Leather

Faux Leather
Faux or synthetic leather is manufactured either from polyurethane, vinyl or PVC, whereas Polyurethane is the better and more breathable option. If you cannot afford genuine leather, faux leather has plenty of similarities, with a much lower price tag.

Factors to Consider Regarding Fabric VS Leather

Comfort and Feel

If you are looking for a recliner to relax on and spend time on, you will want something that feels comfortable and soft to the touch.

Cleaning and Maintenance

One of the most important factors that I would regard, is how easily you can clean and maintain the specific material used in your recliner.
This would, of course, depend on its intended use. If your recliner is likely to fall victim to spills, dirt and pet hair, then go for leather or something easy to clean.
On the other hand, if not so you can choose something more luxurious and attractive in appearance.

Durability of Color

Here again, depending on the function and use of the recliner, you will need to decide on what level of durability you require of the fabric.

Compatability with Background Décor

leather vs fabric - style and decor

I have found that a leather recliner, though it has its advantages and disadvantages, blends in well with almost any home style and décor.

Make sure that the fabric you choose suits the style and décor of your home, and enhances it, rather than compromising it.

Hygiene and Safety

In this scenario, leather is the best as it is hypoallergenic and does not collect dust or mites, whereas fabric needs to be cleaned regularly and may cause an allergic reaction if you are prone to allergies.

Cost and Quality

The cost in both fabric and leather is related to the quality. Your best strategy is to compare, durability, comfort, and maintenance, in contrast to your own personal preference.
For heavy duty use, and if you have pets and children at home, I would strongly suggest considering a more premium and durable type of fabric or leather, that is easy to clean.

Pros and Cons of Fabric and Leather Recliners

Fabric Recliners

  • Fabric is soft, warm and comfortable.
  • Offers more warmth in Winter.
  • Some fabrics are durable and easy to clean.
  • Fabric is a bit more affordable than leather, while still good quality.
  • There are much more colors, textures, and styles available in fabric than in leather.
  • The good quality fabric is much more durable and less prone to wear and tear.
  • The right type of fabric will not wrinkle or sag with time and keep its shape.
  • Fabric recliners come to you already broken in and comfortable.


  • Spills and stains are a big problem with fabric recliners and can be difficult to clean.
  • Fabric recliners are not a good choice if you have pets as they trap odors easily, and collect pet hair.
  • Some fabric can become worn out more easily than leather.
  • Bumps and scrapes are much worse in fabric, as they can cause the fabric to fray.
  • Fabric can be unhygienic if not frequently cleaned and vacuumed.
  • If you suffer from allergies, the fabric can exacerbate your reactions.

Leather Recliners

  • Leather is hypoallergenic because it does not harbour dust, mites, pet dander and other allergens, as with fabric.
  • Any leather looks elegant and stylish in any setting and will complement any background décor.
  • Care requirements are a breeze, leather can easily be wiped down with a damp cloth to remove dirt and spills.
  • Most leather types do not require continuous maintenance and can last for decades.
  • The leather is cool against your skin in summer.


  • Leather can sweat against your skin in summer and can be very cold in winter.
  • Genuine leather, although softer and more delicate, scratches easily, hence faux leather is less fragile.
  • Faux leather does not always look as luxurious as genuine leather.
  • Leather can dry out, crack and lose its color when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
  • You will need to condition and polish your leather from time to time, to protect and nourish it.

Therefore, To Put it Briefly

In a nutshell, fabric recliners come in a huge range of styles and patterns, they are comfortable and reasonably durable, although cleaning is always a challenge. With fabric though, you have to keep in mind that a strong good quality fabric is always recommended, and will keep its shape for many years.

Leather recliners are durable and will most likely last longer than fabric, then you also have the advantage of easy cleaning and maintenance. However you still need to condition the leather to keep it soft and durable, and you cannot leave it in direct sunlight.

Taking all this into consideration, and regarding all the factors involved and your own personal requirements and preferences you should be able to make an informed decision on the leather, or fabric that you want your recliner in. Both versions come with their advantages and disadvantages, so it is the purpose for which the recliner will be used, that will establish the final verdict.

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