15 Types of Sofa Materials: Fabrics, Wood & More

Shopping for the right sofa can be overwhelming when presented with a multitude of materials to choose from. A few factors should be considered when deciding which is the best material for your couch – its lifespan, comfortability, and how well it fits in with your home’s décor. After all, you want a sofa that not only looks good, but is also comfortable and durable.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the 11 common types of sofa materials, along with each of their pros and cons. This can help you make an informed decision when shopping for your next piece of furniture!

Sofa Materials Made From Natural Fibres

1. Cotton

Ideal for: Places with warm weather that require airy materials and for creating a comfortable, cuddly feel.

Cotton is super comfy, perfect for comfy and stylish couches. You can get cotton sofas in lots of colours to match your home’s look. They’re made by weaving cotton with different colours, so you can even dye them if you want. When you mix cotton with other materials, you get furniture that’s cosy and tough, giving you comfort and long-lasting use.


  • Allergen-free: Some people may find that cotton sofas are less irritating to their allergies due to their natural, hypoallergenic properties.
  • Breathability: Couches made of cotton allow for better air circulation.


  • Fragile: 100% cotton is prone to wrinkling and staining.
  • High-maintenance: Due to its porous nature, cotton readily absorbs spills and stains.
  • High absorbency: Cotton has a high absorption rate, therefore be careful when wearing or storing items that contain wet dyes.

2. Linen

Ideal for: Living room with a stylish and relaxed appearance.

Linen is a natural material from the flax plant. It’s great for clothes and home stuff because it keeps you cool and dry, especially when it’s hot and muggy. If you want a comfy and stylish couch, go for a linen sofa.


  • Easy to clean: Useful for slipcovers since they may be easily cleaned by dry cleaning.
  • Cooling: Keeps you dry by wicking away sweat.
  • Colourfast: It has the ability to stand the test of time as it resists discolouration. 


  • Easily damaged: Using chlorine bleach can weaken those fibres quickly, causing them to fray and tear.
  • Difficult to clean: Linen is not the most stain-resistant fabric, but it may be spot-cleaned if necessary.
  • Prone to shrinkage: It’s possible that linen would shrink if subjected to really high temperatures.

3. Leather

Ideal for: Busy areas that need tough, stain-resistant, and easy-to-clean stuff. Also, good for people with allergies.

Leather is a tough and bendy material made from animal skins, like those from cows, sheep, or pigs. To make leather, they treat the animal skin to make it last a long time and not rot. This gives leather its unique feel and look. People use leather to make things like clothes, bags, and fancy leather couches to make their homes look nice.

  • Low maintenance: It is easy to clean and maintain.
  • Water-resistant: There’s no need to worry about moisture or spills ruining your furniture stains simply wipe away with minimal effort.
  • Allergen-free: Leather is naturally hypoallergenic and doesn’t attract dust, making it an ideal furniture solution for those with allergies.
  • Durability: Sturdy enough to withstand everyday use.


  • Fragile: Easily torn or scratched by pets’ claws or other sharp items.
  • Uncomfortable: Extreme heat and humidity might make you feel sticky.

4. Wool

Ideal for:High traffic areas where things might get worn out, but you still want them to feel soft and comfy.

Wool is a fabric made from the hair of sheep, goats, and other animals. Wool is known for being strong and able to keep heat in. Depending on the type of hair used to make wool, this fabric may also benefit that keep people warm in the winter.


  • Durable: Wool is a strong material that can withstand wear and tear, making it a good choice for sofas.
  • Cruelty-free: This material is obtained in a way that doesn’t hurt anything.
  • Stain-resistant: Wool is resistant to water and fading.


  • High absorbency: Stains can be easily absorbed by wool.
  • Heavyweight: If you frequently rearrange your furnishings, wool may not be the greatest option due to its heaviness.
  • Expensive: Wool sofas certainly look beautiful, but the higher cost of manufacturing them can make them unaffordable for many people.

5. Silk

Photo by enter89 on istock

Ideal for: Enhancing the living areas with a bit of class and style, all thanks to its silky, shiny feel and a gorgeous shine that shows a high level of elegance.

Silk is a very gentle and super soft fabric that’s perfect for occasions because it feels so fancy. But since it’s really delicate, it’s best to have it cleaned by professionals if it gets dirty. That way, it will stay nice and last a long time.


  • Luxurious Feel: Silk is known for its luxurious softness, a top choice for high-end clothing and bedding.
  • Natural Fibre: Produced by silkworms, silk is a natural protein fibre, biodegradable and eco-friendly.
  • Breathability: Silk regulates body temperature, keeping you comfortable in all seasons.
  • Hypoallergenic: Naturally resistant to allergens, silk suits allergy-prone individuals.
  • Moisture-Wicking: Silk absorbs and wicks away moisture, keeping you dry.


  • High Maintenance:  Requires special care, often dry clean only, costly and time-consuming.
  • Expensive: Genuine silk is relatively pricey, limiting accessibility.
  • Susceptible to Stains: Prone to stains, often necessitating professional cleaning.

Sofa Materials Made From Synthetic Fibres

1. Microfibre Leather

Ideal for: Nice and comfy, plus it’s simple to clean. But not suitable if you have pets.

Microfibre leather is a synthetic material that imitates real leather. It’s eco-friendly and animal-friendly, made from tiny fibres tightly woven together to be strong and durable. It’s used for fashion and furniture like microfibre leather sofas.


  • Breathability: Allows air to pass through it.
  • Odour-free: It prevents the formation of unpleasant odours.
  • Eco-friendly: It has a low impact on the environment.
  • Low-maintenance: It requires minimal care to keep it looking like new.


  • Prone to dirt: It can collect dust and fur from pets.
  • Flammable: In comparison to real leather, it burns more easily.

2. Leatherette 

Ideal for:  A stylish and budget-friendly option that mimics the look of genuine leather.

Upholstery made of leatherette is chic and modern. It’s beautiful to look at and will give your home a classy air. With the correct accents and furnishings, a faux leather sofa may give your living room an air of raw elegance.


  • Cruelty-free: Positive impact on the environment because no animals were harmed during production.
  • Durability: Highly long-lasting, especially with proper care.
  • Affordability: A fantastic option when it comes to buying a sofa without breaking the bank.
  • UV-resistant: Not affected by ultraviolet light.


  • Easily damaged: Gets easily torn or perforated through misuse.
  • Environmentally harmful: It is more environmentally wasteful compared to real leather, as real leather is a by-product of cows processed for their meat.
  • Synthetic smell: It doesn’t have the smell of 100% real leather, which some consumers actually prefer.

3. Polyester

Photo by southtownboy on istock

Ideal for: High-traffic spaces that need to stay tough and not get stained.

Polyester, a type of microfiber, is commonly used in the upholstery and bedding industries. It won’t wrinkle, won’t spill, and won’t be a pain to clean. It’s cheaper than many comparable materials and available in many colours.


  • Stain-resistant: Easy to clean in case of water and beverage spills.
  • Hypoallergenic: Fewer risks of allergy development.
  • Soft: Polyester is just as comfortable and gentle as natural fibres.
  • Pet-friendly: If you have pets, you should know that polyester is the best sofa material because it does not collect dust or pet hair.


  • Heat-sensitive: These sofas are not heat-tolerant and could easily become damaged or faded when exposed to high temperatures.
  • Vulnerable: Tends to lose its form when stretched.

4. Velvet

Ideal for:  Making places look fancy in quiet or less crowded spots.

Velvet is a classy and fancy fabric that can make any room look more elegant. It comes in fancy colours and has a soft texture. The way it’s made gives it a special look that can match lots of different styles. That’s why many people like using velvet for things like velvet sofas to make their living spaces more elegant.


  • Comfort: This couch material provides exceptional cosiness.
  • Elegance: A velvet couch is the ultimate luxury for any living room.
  • Durability: Because of its unique double-weave construction, velvet lasts much longer than most materials.


  • Expensive: Velvet sofas can be quite expensive to purchase, making them an unattainable luxury for some.
  • High-maintenance: Extra care must be taken while cleaning this piece of furniture, as its delicate material can easily snag or show wear if not cleaned properly.
  • Prone to wear: Regular sitting or napping on the sofa may result in broken fibres that worsen over time, breaking down the fabric’s integrity, resilience and beauty.

5. Vinyl

Ideal for: Households with children or pets.

Vinyl is an excellent alternative to traditional leather when it comes to sofas. While it may not provide the same depth of comfort that leather does, it offers a unique combination of options: cost-effectiveness and toughness.


  • Affordability: Vinyl can offer a leather-like appearance at a lower price.
  • Easy to clean: If you spill food or beverages on vinyl, it’s quick and easy to wipe off and won’t leave stains.
  • Durability: It will stand up to a great deal of daily use over several years.


  • Uncomfortable: Sitting in seats upholstered with cheap vinyl for too long can start to feel sticky.
  • Fragile: Vinyl upholstery is not easily repaired if it gets a tear or a hole.
  • Less durable: While your vinyl couch will last a long time, it will start to develop cracks after a few years of heavy use.

6. Nylon 

Photo by Hannah Busing on istock

Ideal for: High-traffic areas that require tough and long-lasting furniture covering.

Nylon is a strong fabric used for furniture that doesn’t get stained easily. When it’s mixed with other materials, it helps the fabric keep its colour, stay looking good, and not get bumpy. This makes your furniture last longer. Nylon is a good pick if you want your furniture to stay in great shape for a long time.


  • Durability: Resistant to wear and tear.
  • Stain Resistance: Repels stains effectively.
  • Colour Maintenance: Maintains fabric colour over time.
  • Crush Resistance: Can bounce back from being squished or flattened
  • Prevents Pilling: It stops those annoying little fabric balls (pills) from forming on your furniture’s surface.


  • Cost: Can be more expensive compared to some other materials.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Nylon can melt if exposed to high heat, so be careful around hot objects.
  • Environmental Impact: Can be less eco-friendly compared to some natural fabrics, contributing to environmental concerns.

7. Acrylic: 

Photo by Incept-G on istock

Ideal for:  Moisture which makes it less prone to water damage and mould growth.

Acrylic is a synthetic material that’s a bit like wool but has some extra advantages. It’s super strong and can take a lot without getting messed up. It doesn’t easily get dirty or lose its colour, so things made from acrylic last a long time. This man-made acrylic stuff stays looking good even after a lot of use.


  • Durability: Acrylic fibres are highly resistant to wear and tear.
  • Wrinkle Resistance: Acrylic garments tend to be wrinkle-resistant, reducing the need for frequent ironing or steaming.
  • Stain Resistance: Acrylic is less prone to staining compared to some other fabrics, making it easier to maintain.
  • Colorfastness: Acrylic fabrics typically retain their colour well over time, resisting fading or discoloration.
  • Affordability: Acrylic is often more budget-friendly than natural fibres like wool.


  • Not as Soft: Acrylic may not feel as soft or luxurious against the skin as natural fibres like cashmere or merino wool.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Acrylic can be sensitive to high heat, potentially melting or getting damaged when exposed to hot irons or dryers.
  • Environmental Concerns: Acrylic is a synthetic material derived from petroleum, which raises environmental concerns regarding its production and disposal.
  • Less Breathable: Acrylic tends to be less breathable than natural fibres, which can result in less comfort in hot and humid conditions.

8. Olefin: 

Photo by siiixth on istock

Ideal for: Different types of weather, so it’s tough for both indoor and outdoor use.

Olefin is a tough material that can handle a lot without getting ruined. It doesn’t easily get messed up from rubbing, stains, sunlight, or chemicals. So, it’s a great choice for furniture that’s used a lot, whether in a busy living room or a busy office. Olefin’s strength means your furniture can take the everyday wear and tear.


  • Abrasion Resistance: Highly resistant to abrasion, making it a durable choice for furniture that faces a lot of wear and tear.
  • Stain Resistance: This material is not prone to staining, making it easy to clean and maintain.
  • Sunlight Resistance: Resistant to fading from sunlight exposure, preserving the colour and appearance of your furniture.
  • Heavy Use: Suitable for furniture expected to receive heavy use, as it maintains its quality and appearance over time.


  • Not as Luxurious: Olefin may not have the same luxurious feel as some natural fibres like cotton or wool.
  • Not Biodegradable: It’s a synthetic material and not biodegradable, which raises environmental concerns.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Can be sensitive to high heat and may melt or get damaged.

Non-Fabric Sofa Materials

Non-fabric sofa materials such as wood & metal present a variety of advantages that can be incorporated into any relaxed yet modern decor.Wood and metal materials are incredibly resilient, making them ideal for those who need a robust surface that can endure heavy daily use. 

1. Wood

Ideal for: Creating a timeless and durable piece of furniture that adds a warm and classic aesthetic to your living space

Solid wood is a great choice when constructing a comfortable and durable sofa. They provide an ideal base for adding other materials, such as metal or foam, creating a robust structure for larger pieces that can easily withstand everyday wear and tear. 


  • Strength: Wood is a robust and long-lasting material
  • Pleasing to the eye: Wood can add a certain charm and dignity to any room.
  • Versatility: Wood looks good in almost any setting, unlike any other material.


  • Prone to pests: Wood can be destroyed by a variety of pests that are attracted to it.
  • Susceptible to fungus: Even wood could become susceptible to wet rot and fungus because of moist conditions.
  • Weak: Wood may warp by shrinking, swelling or twisting
  • Flammable: It increases the risk of exposure to fire from within the home or workplace. 

2. Metal 

Ideal for: Modern and industrial-style furniture, offering a sleek and minimalist look while providing durability and easy maintenance.

Many modern sofas and sofa hybrids are constructed from metal instead of the more conventional wood. Considerable metal components may be found in several of our favourite modern sofa beds, futons, and other pieces. 


  • Durability: It will stand firm and look great for years to come.
  • Climate-resistant: Metals can withstand climate change better than any other material.
  • Fire-resistant: It is built with materials that won’t combust in a flame.
  • Eco-friendly: Metal requires less energy to produce, as well as emits fewer greenhouse gases when compared to traditional alternatives such as wood and leather.
  • Pest-resistant: The fabric is designed specifically with a barrier that helps protect against pests getting into the cushions.


  • Heavyweight: It can be quite heavy, and hence difficult to carry or move around.
  • Heat sensitive: If metal furniture is exposed to the sun, it can get quite hot making it impossible for you to use them.
  • Damaging to floors: It could scratch the floor or even grate it.

What type of couch material is the best? 

The best materials for your ideal sofa ultimately depend on your preferences and needs. For example, whether you prefer one that is easy to clean or something that requires little maintenance and care. Here are some of the materials that may be the best choice for specific needs and situations:

Best sofa material for hot weather: Cotton, Linen, or Wool

In Malaysia’s hot climate, choose a sofa that can withstand the heat by opting for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, or wool, which are less likely to stretch or warp due to humidity.

  • Cotton absorbs body heat quickly and gives an airier feel compared to other fabrics like polyester, making it more suitable for your home.
  • Linen also has similar properties but with the added benefit of being softer and lightweight than cotton.
  • Wool is significantly more resistant to dust mites when compared to other materials and thus gives a better comfort experience in a hot climate. 

Best sofa material for dogs and pets: Polyester or Microfibre

Finding the right pet-friendly sofa for your beloved pets can often be tricky. Instead of leather and other animal fabrics, look for leather alternatives such as polyester or microfibres that don’t snag easily, making them ideal for dogs and cats who love to scratch at furniture.

Buy a sofa with removable and washable covers to quickly clean up any fur or mess. And lastly, make sure whatever material you choose is non-toxic and harmless to your furry friends!

Best sofa material for kids: Cotton or tight-weave microfiber

Choose a strong yet soft material like cotton, tight-weave microfiber, or other durable fabrics that withstand roughhousing and frequent cleanup. Natural materials are usually the safest option since they won’t contain chemical dyes that can irritate sensitive skin.

Look for darker colours and smaller patterned designs, as they will camouflage stains and generally wear better than light colours or large prints. With the proper fabric selection, you can be sure your kid’s sofa will look great.

Best sofa material for durability: Leather

When choosing a sofa that will stand the test of time, you cannot go wrong with leather. This timeless material offers a classic look, and its durability makes it ideal for busy households and any environment.

You won’t need to worry about cleaning leather either, as all that is required is an occasional wipe-down with a barely damp cloth for perfect maintenance.


Selecting the right piece of furniture for your living space is an important decision requiring knowledge of various materials. The material you choose can have a big impact on the overall look, feel, and functionality of the sofa. 

So, when looking for an affordable sofa in Malaysia, it’s crucial to consider not only the price but also the material, ensuring your choice aligns with your desired look and comfort.

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