Imperial Cushion Table

Natural And Synthetic Furniture Coverings

It’s important when shopping for furniture to not only decide on a design but also to choose furniture coverings that work best for your home. There are over 900 different types of furniture upholstery. Understanding your options can help you to make the most informed decision. Upholstery fabrics are either natural or synthetic. Here are the ten most common upholstered fabrics for furniture.

Natural Fabrics


Leather is a sturdy material commonly used to upholster furniture. Dying the leather is the process of leather tanning and has been around for centuries. Today, leather comes in many colors, and the price varies significantly according to the quality. The section of the hide determines the quality. The different varieties of leather are listed below in order of best quality to most economical.

  • Full Grain
  • Top Grain
  • Nubuck
  • Suede
  • Faux
  • Wool

For additional information about leather quality, see our previous article on Types of Leather



Wool is blended with a synthetic fabric to help with the ease of cleaning, and it is a very durable fabric. Woolen material is often associated with sheep but animals like certain goats, rabbits, and camels produce similar fibers. The ignition point of wool is 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit which makes wool fairly resistant to fire.


Premium cotton made from the longest fibers is much more durable than lesser grades made with shorter fibers. A benefit to cotton upholstery is the breathability factor. Cotton is a light fabric, and that allows for heat and moisture to conduct away from the body.


Silk is a fiber made from silkworms. This material is expensive, but it’s incredibly durable. Despite its strength, silk is still very soft to the touch. You will need a professional cleaner if the silk fabric is soiled.


Linen ranks high on the affordability scale, but it is less practical than some of its other natural fiber counterparts. A challenge of this fabric is that it soils easily and requires professional cleaners to prevent the material from shrinking during the cleaning process.

Synthetic Fabrics


Polyester comes from air, water, petroleum, and coal. Although polyester is common, it rarely stands alone as an upholstery. Polyester is often used in a mix with other fabrics to reduce wrinkling and fading.


Rayon is a less expensive alternative to silk. High durability is a factor of rayon, but it tends to wrinkle easily. There is an ongoing debate on whether or not rayon is considered a synthetic fabric. Rayon is the result of the cellulose of wood pulp, but the manufacturing process does make it human-made.

Crypton Fabric

Crypton Fabric is a brand of upholstery made using synthetic fibers to create a durable material. Crypton Fabric is specially made to be stain and odor resistant. This makes it an especially good option for homes where children or pets will be in contact with the furniture.


Acetate is a silk imitation that wrinkles easily. The fabric is mildew resistant, but acetate is not considered a truly durable fabric and is not recommended for furniture that experiences everyday use.


The fiber acrylic develops from polymers of acrylic acid. This fiber is created to imitate the properties of wool. Acrylic is stain resistant and is an inexpensive option for upholstery.

When deciding on furniture upholstery, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Understanding the purpose of your furniture can help with meeting the proper upholstery need. Finding furniture coverings that fit into your budget will impact your choice. Pairing different fabrics of synthetic, natural, or a combination of both can add to the look and functionality of your furniture. For more information about types of fabric furniture covering, or to view a selection of our heirloom furniture, visit Amish Oak in Texas at either of our showrooms in New Braunfels, TX, and San Antonio, TX.