Sofa upholstery fabric selection guide India

The couch or sofa is a vital piece of furniture in your home and dressing it up in the right material is as important as buying the sofa itself. This article provides simple buying tips on how to select sofa upholstery fabric materials and a maintenance guide for sofa furnishings for your home.

As a piece of furniture, the sofa occupies a good amount of space in the living room of your home. The sofa could be a place to relax on while watching TV or a place which makes for comfortable seating for your guests or just somewhere for lounging around. Whatever its function, there is no denying that indeed the sofa is one of the most important center pieces of the living room! Once you have selected your sofa, the next step is furnishing it with the right upholstery. Sofa upholstery is considered to be essential to home furnishings.

So let's have a look at what upholstery selection involves...

What to look for in Sofa Upholstery Fabric

Whether you are using expensive brocades & jacquards or simple polyester furnishings for your sofa, you need to keep some tips in mind. Look for these important features:

1. Durability: Keep in mind that the sofa is probably the most used piece of furniture in your home. Hence wear and tear of the fabric is inevitable. By choosing the correct type of material for the upholstery, you can keep this wear and tear to the minimum.

2. Non-shrinking: Over a long period of time, certain types of materials tend to shrink. If this is the case with your sofa upholstery, it creates a bad look.

3. Non-allergic to skin: Many people, both young and old, are susceptible to dry skin and skin rashes. It is therefore important to choose upholstery furnishings which are unlikely to be the type which causes the skin to itch.

4. Stain proof: Whether it is family members or guests, food and drink is often served in the living room. So little or major "accidents" – meaning spills – are sooner or later going to happen, much to the detriment of that lovely sofa! Hence try to select fabric which can be easily cleaned and will not leave the ugly stain patches on it.

5. Colour-fast: In some areas of India, hot weather practically rules year around. Such heat and humidity can do a lot of damage to colours of fabrics including those of your sofa. That is why selecting a fabric whose colour does not fade easily with a wash is always a good idea.

Sofa upholstery fabric materials suitable for India

You open an interior decor magazine, see a beautiful leather sofa and decide to get your sofa redone in leather. Wait! Keep in mind that a leather upholstered sofa is not necessarily ideal for the Indian climate. For one, don't forget that in India dust swirls around in plenty and leather tends to catch it very easily. Secondly, leather is extremely expensive as is the cost of maintaining it. If at all you do wish to use leather for your sofa, then do so for a sofa which is in an air-conditioned room and is not in the path of direct sunlight.

Then there is silk and velvet upholstery which give grace and elegance to the sofa. In the case of silk, it is definitely a strong fabric and can even be dry-cleaned. However, if exposed to direct sunlight it's colour will fade and mildew can set in. Velvet is a problem as dust tends to settle on it easily and needs constant maintenance. Both silk and velvet, like leather, tend to be expensive.

Cotton fabrics are commonly available in India. The better grade of cotton – known as premium grade cotton – is popularly used in home furnishings. However, it is not necessarily suitable for furnishing your sofa. This is because it wrinkles very easily and is susceptible to difficult-to-remove stains. You can, though, make use of a combination of cotton and polyester material.

So what then is a better option for your sofa? Most home furnishings experts recommend polyester or microfiber fabric. These types of fabrics are not only likely to last much longer than other types, but also do not age so easily when exposed to direct sunlight. What's more, a stain can be dealt with easily with a little detergent powder & a clean moist cloth.

It is believed that microfiber is even better than polyester because it does not wrinkle so easily and can even stand up to soiling better than polyester. While some consider microfiber as great to have for your sofa if you have a pet in your home, others say it is not suitable for it. So I suggest you look up the Internet for the pros and cons of microfiber sofas.

Cleaning and maintaining sofa furnishings

When your kids spill chaat on the sofa or you drop juice on it, do you rush to get a cloth & a cleaning product? Of course, that is the right thing to do – but are you using the right cleaning product? When you buy furnishings for your sofa, do make it a point to find out about what is suitable to clean it: An ordinary detergent? Plain water? A particular type of liquid cleaner? Should you use a plain towel or a wet one? Should you use a brush instead of a towel?

It is advisable to use a vacuum cleaner at least once a week to remove dirt and dust – don't forget the corners too! Some people are so paranoid about getting their lovely sofa furnishings dirty that they do not open the windows located near the sofa. This is actually having the wrong effect. A sofa's upholstery needs to have some kind of ventilation to prevent it from becoming smelly. As long as the sofa is away from the direct rays of the sun, it is fine to keep the windows open.

And don't forget kids! With these active youngsters around, it is a good idea to buy a couple of sofa covers which can be put & removed as required.

Sofa upholstery fabric designs: Plain vs Printed fabrics

Some people just love floral designs while others prefer geometrical patterns. Yet others prefer plain material. Whatever you choose, home decor experts suggest that a good idea is to keep the front seating area of the sofa plain and put some kind of pattern only on the back and the side arm rests. This enhances the look of a sofa and prevents it from looking dull and boring.

Price of sofa upholstery fabrics in India

Sofa upholstered fabric is sold by the meter. Basic cotton and polyester would be the least expensive, starting probably upwards of Rs.200/- per meter. Silk, velvet and brocade are the most expensive, quite possibly going over the Rs.10,000/- mark per meter.

You should also keep labour costs in mind, which is charged per running foot.


The range of fabric options and colours for sofa furnishings can be mind-boggling. When you do make your ultimate choice, you should be clear about a few things: where you will place the sofa, whether there are pets in your home, whether you are planning to change the furnishings frequently or once in five years, etc.

The best thing to do would be to ask the store to give you a few free small square samples they have of sofa fabrics. Tell the store staff you wish to check out their suitability for your sofa and would like to see if it is colour proof, stain proof, etc. This is likely going to save you needlessly spending on something which is not right for your home furnishings.

Let your sofa reign in the living room in grand style and by all means let its upholstery be the talking point of conversations - but without creating a dent in your wallet time & again by making the right choice.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

Follow Vandana or read 1655 articles authored by Vandana

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