Are chocolate sundaes more fattening than vanilla? Coke or Pepsi for a summer day at the beach? Did the Beatles have better bangs than The Rolling Stones? Are boxers more comfortable for skydiving than briefs?
The great debates of the world seem like they will rage forever, across continents, during both war and peace.
But, maybe the biggest debate of all is this: Should my next sofa, recliner, sectional or chair be covered in leather or fabric?
Tough stuff, I know, but I’m willing to tackle it.
Drawing Lines In The Sand
Of course, just like there are cat people and dog people who will never cross over to the dark side, so too are there leather and fabric people who can’t imagine living the desperate lives of the others’.
The leather gang celebrates the style, durability, comfort and versatility of their furniture covering of choice.
And the fabric crowd? They celebrate its style, durability, comfort and versatility.
Uhh… wait… something’s amiss here. So, let’s dive in point-by-point and see what’s going on.
Comfort Is As Comfort Does
Fans of leather like its supple softness. And leather does get softer and more comfortable with age, like the love of a good friend. (I hope this doesn’t make you weep for hours, but it’s true.) As long as you maintain and clean your leather furniture it will be comfortable for years to come. It’s a little slick and has a nice cool feel that many people are drawn to.
Folks who tend not to wear a lot of clothing prefer fabric. They report sticking to it less. Of course, high quality leathers aren’t very sticky anyway. And there are many kinds of fabrics you can use to cover your furniture, so if you are looking a very specific texture and feel you can get it with fabric.
Pets Love Your Furniture A Little Too Much
Leather is winning the pet war. Many cats avoid it, probably because they think it’s not ideal for a 12-hour nap. While it can be scratched by claws, leather is easier to clean than fabric and won’t absorb smells and fur as easily.
Will It Outlast Aunt Edna?
A well-made leather couch is usually more durable than all but the highest quality fabric sofa. Of course, this all depends on how you maintain your sofas and whether you have five kids who play flying superhero games off them while eating cheesy poofs.
The Kids Are Alright, As Long As They Eat At The Table
And speaking of kids, some folks swear that leather couches are easier to clean and keep stains off than fabric. If Little Johnny spills his Sunny D, you can quickly and easily wipe it off a leather couch. If he spills it on fabric it will quickly soak in and might never come out. Of course, if you choose a fabric with good Stainguard protection you are in good shape too.
Style Is In The Living Room Of The Beholder
Some people would rather wear a purple tube top, a checkered mini skirt and plaid leg warmers, all at once, than put an ugly leather couch in their home. And some leather nuts think adding a leather couch to their living room is akin to parking a red Ferrari in the corner – which they think is a good thing.
While leather couches, sectionals, chairs and recliner come in a wide range of colors and styles, there will always be exactly 12,812 more kinds of fabric available to cover your fine furnishings. So, if you are trying to match your next settee to the exact shade of chartreuse on your emu lampshade, you will probably have to go with fabric.
Can I Still Afford Hair Extensions?
The cheapest real leather couch is always going to cost more than the cheapest fabric couch. But, leather aficionados say a good leather couch will last your whole lifetime and gain character and suppleness with age. If you are looking to get the most long-term value in a classic piece, leather is probably the better value. If you want a cheap item to tide you over until your book of cat poems gets on the New York Times bestseller list, go with fabric.
Faux Vs. Real Leather
Fake leather is great for college dorm rooms, transmission shop waiting areas and 24-hour diners along state highways. Don’t buy it unless you want your home to look, feel and smell like one of these pungent locations.
Maintenance Is For Lovers
You really don’t have to do anything other than wipe leather off occasionally, to keep it looking good. Some leather conditioner a few times a year – especially in hot, dry climates – is a great idea too.
Fabric couches usually require a little more maintenance. If Senor Fluffy sleeps on it you will find yourself vacuuming a lot more with fabric. Of course, some people never clean any of their furniture, so it’s a moot point for them.
Conclusions, Conclusions, Delusions
It mostly boils down to your personal style and preference. A classic leather couch is going to cost a lot up front, but should last longer and be in style through four or five presidential terms. A fabric recliner can be had in almost any color or style, but pets, kids, and drunken uncles might damage to it easier.