Sofa Upholstery: What Is the Best?

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A well-chosen sofa can become the most important item of your living room. It is the flagship piece, where you will most likely spend many hours and, even, many years. Choosing the right sofa is therefore decisive.

When you get on that long road, the first things that come to your mind are to pay attention to its size, shape, comfortable seating, and upholstery. As for what’s in there, not sure if you care to decipher the rather abstruse data sheets of the manufacturers. Structure and padding being the guarantee of holding and durability of the sofa over time, we questioned the specialist on the subject.

Now What Makes a Sofa… A Sofa?

– The structure: the rigid supporting element, the skeleton

– The suspension that produces sagging in the seat

– The padding, which dampens and distributes the mass (sometimes supplemented by a coating, which is responsible for the comfort of the seat).

– The upholstery that embellishes, protects and creates contact with the user.

The structure

A sofa is first and foremost a large box that can be put together in two ways.

– Structures with visible wood

Traditionally, sofas, like stylish seats, are assembled in a “framed barrel”: the structure, made up of solid wood parts (generally beech, oak, cherry wood), is combined in tenons / mortises and glued dowels.

– Covered Structures

Contemporary sofas have a structure in panels derived from wood, assembled by stapling (or stapling + gluing) upholstery to solid wood battens. These panels are made of plywood for the high-end sofas, particle board and OSB for the others. Beech, which is more resistant to pulling, is to be preferred for the structural parts supporting the suspension.

Sometimes the basic structure is metallic, especially when the sofa has relaxing functions.


The sofa seat suspension, concealed by a canvas, is of two types:

– Positive effect suspension

This pendant lamp sinks above its fixing level, making it possible to make curved and hollow sofa shapes. It is mainly composed of No Sag type arc springs: these steel wires are fixed in width, with plastic or metal clips. If you need a super durable sofa, this is the system to choose.

– Negative Effect Suspension

These suspensions mainly include elastic straps, textile bands stretched then stapled (in a herringbone and not in line, this is important for strength) on the suspension frame, usually beech. These straps are placed in a crisscross fashion. Compared to springs, they have a greater tendency to lose their elastic properties over time.

Note that, for corner sofas, this is the only technique to be used, because it is not easy to place the springs at the corner.

– The File Suspension

As the back of the sofa is subjected to less pressure, its suspension is made of elastic straps in a fixed support (wood-based panel).

Now that we’ve gone through all the basic elements of a sofa, it is time to compare the main upholstery possibilities when acquiring such a large interior piece of furniture.

Let’s find out more about the unmistakable leather sofa, the natural or synthetic fabric sofa and other attractive alternatives.

The leather sofa, the undisputed king of the living room

The leather couch is a bit like the Rolls Royce of the sofa world. Its elegance and resistance have gradually made it the star of any living room. It offers a long service life. However, it requires regular maintenance. There are three main materials to choose from when talking about leather: cowhide, calfskin and buffalo. The feel and thickness of leather is the difference that makes such a choice decisive in terms of leather upholstery.

– Buffalo leather: its grain is thick and irregular, less flexible, very resistant and of excellent quality.

– Cowhide leather (beef, bull, etc.): its grain is finer but remains well marked, it is quite popular because of its known resistance in time.

– Calfskin: its grain is fine and little marked, more supple and softer than others, it is also more fragile, which requires increased maintenance.

Another criterion for selecting your luxurious couch represents the grain of the leather:

– Full grain : is the upper layer of animal skin, not corrected and therefore retaining the original surface of the skin. Its grain, irregularities and wrinkles show it is a noble leather, soft to the touch and supple (requires maintenance).

– Corrected grain: represents the middle layer, lightly sanded to smooth out rough skin and imperfections. It is also believed to be qualitative, but cheaper than the full grain layer.

– Crust: is the part of the skin in contact with the flesh of the animal. It is obtained by splitting the layer, in order to obtain a suitable thickness. Less soft and resistant than the full grain layer, this leather remains the ideal solution for small budgets.

The usual upholstered couch, much more than an economical choice

Regularly chosen because of its accessible price, compared to leather, these furniture items are, above all, essential for many styles. From the vintage couch with a quilted backrest, to the current sofa with sober and calm curves, you will find many styles of upholstered sofas for a nice living room arrangement. The fabric sofa also allows you to choose from a large choice of colors. Very actual in new collections, both light and dark fabric models are very popular, because they adapt easily to all interior styles. Do you want something unique in your interior? has selected fabric sofa models in original colors just for you.

The Choice of Fabric

There are many ways to upholster a sofa. Each type of upholstery gives a solidity and a particular touch. These materials can be of natural or synthetic origins.

Materials made of natural materials:

– Cotton fabric – a natural fiber widely used in the manufacture of couches, is a supple and pleasant fabric.

– Linen sofas take on a precious and refined appearance. This fabric is commonly reinforced with cotton.

– Velvet sofas – timeless, this is a noble material, with a silky feel and regularly featured in new alinea collections.

Synthetic materials:

– Synthetic fibers, such as polyacrylic and polyester are appreciated for their stain resistance. They also improve the life of the couch by their robustness.

All in all, any sofa fabric has its advantages and disadvantages, so your final decision must be based exactly on what you would prefer to see in your living room. But still, we’d like to know which upholstery would you give preference to (or what kind of sofa do you already have in your home)?

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