Leather Vs Fabric Recliner: Which One Is the Best Material?

by Andrew Smith| Last Updated: June 4, 2021

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Leather Vs Fabric Recliner

When shopping for a recliner, the upholstery fabric is one of the crucial deciding factors. The first step in deciding which recliner to buy starts with a choice between two options – Leather vs Fabric recliner.

You have to ask yourself, “Which is the best material for me?”

Choosing between the two can be daunting. As such, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each upholstery material to help you make an informed decision.

Table of Contents

Leather Recliners

leather recliner

Generally, leather recliners are stylish, comfortable and can give a facelift to any room. They also come in various designs and colors to suit personal preferences.

Leather upholstery is known for its longevity, ease to clean and maintain, and ability to withstand wear and tear. While these are all attributes you desire in a recliner upholstery, it’s essential to know that there are different types of leather, and they all don’t behave the same.

There are two main types of leather to choose from: Natural and Synthetic leather.

Natural Leather Options

Natural leather has two categories- Genuine Leather and Bonded Leather

Genuine Leather: This type of leather is made from animal hide and is the most durable type of leather. It has four categories-full grain, split grain, aniline, and pigmented leather.

Bonded leather: this fabric is made from recycled leather materials, like genuine leather, it’s solid and durable with the added advantage of being eco-friendly.

Synthetic Leather

There are two types of synthetic leather: Faux and Vinyl leather.

Faux leather: This is the closest alternative to genuine leather. It’s, however, lighter and softer to the point of wrinkling when stitched. It’s is also breathable and cheaper than authentic leather.

Vinyl: This is a type of flexible plastic. It’s made of plasticizers, fillers and other additives and thus not eco-friendly. Its, however, durable and moisture and fire-resistant.

Besides adding flair to your living room, leather recliners come with other benefits.

Pros of Leather Recliners


A leather sofa gives any room a certain elegance that is hard to achieve with a fabric sofa. If you are looking to have a contemporary modern look, a leather recliner is your best bet as it’s typically more trendy than its fabric counterpart.


When choosing a recliner, consider the feel of the upholstery. Leather’s top grain has cooler and soft to touch. The cold sensation may be uncomfortable to some people. However, the seat will feel warm only after sitting for a while.


Leather sofas are hypoallergenic, making them suitable for people with allergies. Unlike fabrics, leather doesn’t harbour dust, pet dander, dust mites and other allergens.

Care and Maintenance

Leather is generally very easy to clean. It requires light dusting or a rub down annually. Leather upholstery will also withstand daily wear and tear for longer. Avoid leaving spills on the surface for a long time as they may become sticky and can discolor the leather.

Cons of Leather Recliners


Genuine Leather recliners tend to be more expensive than any other type of recliner. Faux leather is relatively affordable, but they are not as high quality and long-lasting as genuine leather ones.


Unfortunately, there are not as many colors to choose from when it comes to leather recliners. They only come in black, brown and sometimes white. While there are different shades of these colors, they will not provide the pop color some rooms need.

Also, We have a step by step guide on reupholster a recliner.

Fabric Recliners

Fabric Recliner Chairs

Fabric recliners are common in many homes than leather recliners, and for a good reason. They come in different designs and colors and can be reupholstered if they wear out or no longer matches the rooms décor.

Additionally, they are comfortable and can serve you for years on end as long as they are of good quality and well maintained. These recliners are perfect for families with kids and those on a budget and still want a recliner chair.

As with leather, there are many options to choose from as there are many types of fabrics. The fabrics are too many to be listed because some are blends of different materials. The two types of fabrics are Natural and Synthetic fabrics.

Natural fabrics

Natural fabrics are made from 100% animal or plant products. They are usually soft and takes dye well, thus giving you a variety of colors. They are less sunlight resistant thus quickly fade when exposed to sunlight. They also have a flat weave that is ideal for patterns. These fabrics include:

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are human-made. Most fabric recliner chairs are upholstered with synthetic materials because they are more durable compared to natural fabrics.

Additionally, most synthetic fabrics a fade resistant and more affordable. Synthetic fabrics include polyester, nylon, acrylic, olefin, Viscose and Sunbrella.

Pros of Fabric Recliners


The feel of a fabric recliner varies depending on the fabric, frame and support system (cushions). Nevertheless, fabric recliners are more comfortable than their leather counterparts and for many reasons.

First, a fabric recliner comes already broken in, unlike a leather recliner meaning it’s softer. Be careful with the softness, though. The best fabric for your recliner should be soft enough but not too soft- it shouldn’t sag or wrinkle when you get up.

Moreover, the fabric upholstery is warmer than leather. Just like your car seats, a leather recliner tends to get cold during winter and gets uncomfortably hot and sticky during hot summers.


The ability to withstand wear and tear depends on the quality of the fabric. Of course, high-quality fabrics withstand wear and tear better and longer. However, most fabrics are treated with stain-resistant finish making them easy to clean in case of spills.

Additionally, unlike leather, fabrics are not easily scratched. They are, therefore, an excellent choice for a home with kids and pets.

Cost and styles

Fabric recliners are relatively cheaper than leather recliners hence ideal for every buyer. Additionally, if you tire of your fabric recliner’s color or pattern, you can change the upholstery fabric at a small cost.

Colour And Pattern Options

Fabric upholstery material has an unlimited number of patterns, colors, and textures. This makes it easier to choose a chair that echoes your personality and blends with your décor. Further, fabric recliners can fit in both classic and modern settings.

Cons of Fabric Recliners


Fabric recliners, unlike leather ones, are not ideal for people who have allergic reactions. They tend to trap allergens such as dust mites, mold and pet dander.

Although regular cleaning and vacuuming may eliminate the germs on the surface, it may not remove the allergens deep in the cushions. Strong odors such as cigarette smoke may also be trapped in the fabric.

Which Is the Best Material for You?

The choice between Leather vs fabric recliner depends on your preference and needs. For some people, durability and maintenance would be the deciding factor, while others comfort all they need. We suggest that you take time to think and decide what you want before you invest your money.

Continue reading: Know Your Upholstery Fabric: An Ultimate Guide

Parting Shot

Both Leather and fabric recliners have their perks and drawbacks. Assess each carefully, consider your needs, then give yourself time to make the right choice.


  • Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the founder of CozySeating, is a father of 2, and an engineer from one of the leading furniture stores in the country. Due to his 10 years of experience, he has proved to be the best person to offer advice to clients regarding different seating furniture based on their needs and performance. Besides, he is a specialist in product reviews and always keeps up with the current trends in the market.

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