Leather vs. Faux vs. Microfiber Couch: What is Better?


Shopping for and ultimately buying a sofa is a big deal and a large investment. There are many things to take into consideration as you prepare to purchase a couch such as quality, comfort, and style. Because a couch is such an investment, you’ll want to make sure you choose one that will last a long time. 

Leather, faux, or microfiber; what is better and which one will last the longest? 

LeatherFauxMicrofiber
PriceHigh price pointLow price pointMiddle price point
Longevity25+ years3 – 5 years7 – 10 years
Ease of CleaningSimpleSimple Requires attention
DurabilityVery durableLess durableVery durable

Keep reading to learn more about leather, faux, and microfiber couches, care information for each of them, which couch is best, which couch will last the longest, how to make your couch last, and a few couch buying tips. 

Picking the Best Couch for You and Your Family

Leather, microfiber, and faux couches all have their pros and cons, which one is best for you depends on a number of factors including your budget, the look you’re going for, how much care you want to give it, and who you’re buying for – an all adult household? A family with children? Do you have or plan on having pets? 

Regarding longevity, a microfiber or leather couch is going to be much more durable than a faux leather couch and both are excellent choices. Let’s go through each type of couch.

Leather Couches

A leather couch is going to be warm and durable, as well as look modern and traditional. Retailers typically classify leather by grades, and the way leather is finished is what will ultimately determine the price. Not only are leather couches comfortable with supportive frames and soft cushions, but they are easy to clean and don’t accumulate dust. 

Before you begin shopping for a leather couch, it’s important to know that there are (4) different types of leather used to make furniture: 

  1. Full-grain. Full-grain is extremely high-quality and durable, as well as water and moisture resistant. Full-grain leather ages well and any scuffs or wear add character to the couch. While there are many benefits to purchasing a full-grain couch, it’s important to understand that full-grain leather is expensive and stains very easily. 
  2. Top-grain. Top-grain leather is a high-quality leather that is soft and comes at a lower cost than full-grain; however, top-grain leather is not as durable as full-grain and is prone to stretching. 
  3. Split-grain. Split grain leather is an even more inexpensive option, however, spit-grain leather is not as durable as full-grain or even top-grain, nor does it feel like real leather. 
  4. Bonded. Bonded leather is inexpensive, and is aesthetically smooth and soft to the touch making bonded leather look higher quality than it actually is. The downfall of bonded leather is it’s not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leather. 

Now that you know a little about the different types of leather used to make furniture, here are the different types of leather dye used in furniture: 

  1. Pigmented leather. Pigmented leather is the most durable as it has a polymer surface coating. Pigmented leather can be finished printed or plan, and the surface coating creates resistance to fading and soiling. 
  2. Aniline leather. Aniline leather is the most natural leather as there is no surface coating or pigment. Aniline leather requires more maintenance as sunlight affects the color and aniline leather absorbs liquid easily. 
  3. Semi-aniline leather. Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline leather as it contains a small amount of surface coating but remains natural looking. 

Many shoppers are concerned with the longevity of leather furniture but how long a piece of leather furniture will last depends on how well you take care of it. Here are a few tips for taking care of a leather couch to make it last as long as possible: 

  • Keep it clean by wiping it with a damp cloth and cleaning between the cushions frequently. 
  • Apply a leather conditioner once a year. Leather conditioner will ensure that your couch ages gracefully. Check out these conditioners: 
    • Leather Honey Leather Cleaner. Leather honey gently cleans all types of leather and vinyl, removing dirt, oil, tough stains, and grime. 
    • Weiman Leather Cleaner. Weiman leather cleans, conditions, and protects all types of leather from sun damage, fading, drying, and crackling. 
    • Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner. Bickmore restores and refinishes leather without darkening it, making this leather conditioner great for restoring older and/or worn leathers.  
  • Keep couch out of direct sunlight as prolonged exposure will cause it to fade over time. 

Pros of Leather Couches

  • Last a long time
  • Easy to clean
  • Thick and durable
  • Doesn’t absorb smells like fabric
  • Ideal for those who suffer from allergies
  • Feels firm
  • Keeps their shape
  • Easy to maintain

Cons of Leather Couches

  • High cost
  • Less variety in colors and patterns
  • Vulnerable to pets and children
  • Absorbs heat quickly
  • Spills that are not tended to quickly can discolor the leather

Microfiber Couches

Microfiber is a popular choice for a couch because it looks good, feels good, and comes in virtually any color you can imagine; however, microfiber can be difficult to clean and maintain. 

Microfiber is made to imitate the feel of suede and can be made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk, wool, and other synthetic materials such as rayon and acetate. This fabric is light, resilient, strong, and durable as well as affordable. 

While microfiber does repel water easily, it’s not immune to stains and most microfiber couches can’t be cleaned with mere soap and water. 

How to Clean a Microfiber Couch:

  1. Choose a cleaner and read the labels carefully before use. Check out these cleaner recommendations: 
  1. Gather appropriate tools such as sponges, cloths, or brushes. 
  2. Check the furniture care tag to ensure you’re complying with care instructions. 
  3. Vacuum entire sofa before damp cleaning. 
  4. Apply solution as directed, then wipe or blot accordingly. 
  5. Allow the couch to dry completely. 
  6. Follow up with a soft bristle brush to refresh the texture. 

A microfiber couch is going to be durable, hold its color for a long time, be super comfortable making it an ideal choice for families with kids and pets, and if you or someone in your household suffers from allergies, microfiber is also hypoallergenic. 

Before purchasing a microfiber couch it’s important to know that microfiber is prone to watermarking, tends to attract dust and pet hair, and folds easily.

Pros of Microfiber Couches

  • Durable
  • Holds color for a long time
  • Stain-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Comfortable
  • Hypoallergenic.

Cons of Microfiber Couches

  • Watermarking
  • Attracts dust
  • Folds
  • Conductor for static

Faux Leather Couches

Faux leather, or pleather, as it’s commonly referred to is an affordable and animal-friendly option to a real leather couch. 

There are two types of faux leather, PVC and polyurethane. While PVC is a bit more difficult to clean, it’s warmer and more flexible; while polyurethane is easy to care for and all-around more durable. 

Cleaning and caring for a faux leather couch is super simple regardless of which type you choose, the best way to clean a faux leather couch is to use a microfiber towel and a cleaner that is formulated for leather.  

There are several benefits to purchasing a faux leather couch, for instance, you can find a faux leather couch in any color or pattern, most faux leather couches have a high-gloss finish, are easy to clean, require little maintenance, don’t crack, and are UV fade resistant; however, faux leather couches do tend to tear more easily than real leather. 

Pros of Faux Couches

  • Cheaper than real leather
  • Animal friendly
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Easily cleaned
  • Requires little maintenance
  • UV fade-resistant
  • Doesn’t crack as easily as real leather.

Cons of Faux Couches

  • Not breathable
  • Easily torn or punctured
  • Does not smell like real leather

Which One is Better?

The couch that is considered the better option will fully depend on your needs and wants, so the better option might vary from person to person. As you prepare to buy a couch consider the following: 

  1. Will the couch be in direct sunlight? If your couch will be in a sunny area receiving a lot of direct sunlight, then a microfiber or faux leather couch will be the better option for you as microfiber isn’t as affected by UV rays as leather is. A microfiber or faux leather couch will continue to hold it’s color regardless of sunlight, while a leather couch will fade over time. 

The best way to protect a leather couch from the sun is to simply keep it out of the sun; however if you are unable to keep your couch out of the sun, do your best to keep the blinds or curtain closed and consider covering your couch with a blanket during the hottest part of the day.

  1. What look are you going for? If you want a more traditional or sleek look, a leather or faux leather couch will probably be the better option for you, whereas if you prefer a couch that has the potential to be a bit more eccentric either by its color or pattern, then microfiber will be the better option, as it is available in many colors and/or patterns. 

However, it is possible to find faux leather in a variety of colors.

  1. Who will be using the couch? If you’re buying a couch that will be used by a larger family and maybe some pets, leather or faux leather will be the easiest to clean, while leather or microfiber will be the most durable. 
  1. What is your budget? A couch can be a big investment, and how much you want to spend will help you better determine which couch will be best for you. Leather, especially full-grain, will be the priciest option and require the largest budget; a microfiber couch will be the “middle” option price-wise and still guarantee durability; a faux leather couch will be the most affordable option, but the least durable of the three. 

It’s important also to take quality into consideration. If you’re wanting to purchase a couch that will last you several years, it will probably cost more. Where if you’re looking for a couch that you may want to replace within the next few years because you’re family has grown or you’ve moved into a bigger house, you can opt for a lower price point. 

  1. How much care do you want to put into your couch? A leather or faux leather couch is pretty simple to keep clean as they can be wiped down with a damp cloth and need to be conditioned about once a year. However, a microfiber couch tends to attract dust, dirt, and pet hair, so the cleaning process requires both a dry clean, damp clean, and time to dry. 

If you opt for a microfiber couch and are concerned about the cleaning process, consider slipcovers to add an extra layer of protection.

Answering these questions prior to shopping will help you best determine which couch will be better for you and your home. Just like you would test drive a car before you buy it, you should test drive a couch as well. Go to a furniture store and take your time looking around and testing a variety of couches and how they feel to the touch and to sit and lounge on. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have regarding durability, care, and quality. 

Which One Lasts the Longest? 

Because a couch can be such a big investment, you absolutely want to make sure you’re investing in a piece of furniture that is going to last you a while. 

A quality leather couch should last 25+ years, a microfiber couch typically lasts 7 – 10 years and a faux leather couch will last roughly 3 – 5 years. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the longevity of a couch will depend on how well it’s taken care of. A high-quality leather couch that sits in direct sunlight and is never conditioned may not last as long as a microfiber couch that is cleaned as directed routinely. 

How to Make Your Couch Last

Here are a few tips to keep your couch comfortable and looking great for years to come: 

  1. Keep leather couches away from direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure will cause the leather to dry, rip, and crack over time. 
  1. Fill saggy cushions with foam. It’s perfectly normal within the first few months of purchasing a couch that the cushions will settle in a bit, just be sure to rotate cushions regularly. After a few years cushions may feel less supportive, simply fill them in to make them more comfortable and last longer. 

Here are a couple of options for filling couch cushions: 

  • Fairfield PF-5 Premium Fiber. This is a fiberfill that is resilient and can easily be moved into place as you fill cushions. 
  • Foam Touch Upholstery Foam. Foam touch makes for a great filler for a number of furniture pieces within the home and is guaranteed to last 3 – 7 years. 
  • Go To Foam. Depending on the use, Go To Foam will last anywhere from 7 to 10 years and can be used in a number of ways around the home. 
  1. Avoid sitting on the back or armrests. These areas are not designed to support that kind of weight and will begin to sag. 
  1. Clean spills quickly to prevent them from settling in. This is especially important with a microfiber couch as they are extremely absorbent. 
  1. Vacuum between the cushions regularly, and dust leather regularly. Keeping furniture clean is the number one way to ensure longevity. 
  1. Plump cushions often to keep them from becoming unevenly worn and to prevent unsightly wrinkles. 
  1. Move furniture carefully to prevent accidental snagging or tears. 
  1. Use appropriate cleaners. If you have a leather couch, only use cleaners that are formulated for leather, and if you have a microfiber couch use cleaners that are formulated for microfiber. Avoid all-purpose cleaners in regards to furniture. 
  1. Consider the use of slipcovers. These covers will act as an additional barrier to prevent stains. 

Check out these easy to use slipcovers, available in multiple colors: 

  • H. VERSAILTEX Stretch Sofa Cover. This is a one-piece style stretch couch cover designed to prevent furniture from spills, stains, and everyday wear and tear. This slipcover is machine washable, available in (11) colors, and comes in size large or extra-large. 
  • Easy Going Stretch Slipcover. This cover is stretchy, soft, and comfortable as well as machine washable. The Easy Going slipcover is available in a number of sizes designed to fit not only your couch but also loveseats and/or recliners and is available in (23) different colors. 
  1. To prevent a couch from wearing out too quickly consider making it a rule that nobody is to jump on or throw themselves onto the couch. 

Buying Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to shop for and eventually buy a couch: 

  1. Check the fit. Make sure before you buy a couch that it’s at your preferred height and is comfortable to sit on. A couch will be part of your life for several years to come, so you want to make sure the fit is just right. 
  2. Evaluate the frame. A couch needs to have a solid quality frame. The most high-quality frame will be made of wood, while cheaper couches have frames made of particleboard, plastic, or metal. It’s important to keep in mind that legs should be screwed in, and not simply glued on. 
  3. Test the arms. When you lean on the arms, they should remain firm and not give in to your weight. 
  4. Feel the springs. A good spring will be firm and will be close together to provide good support. 
  5. If your couch reclines, test the mechanisms to make sure they operate smoothly. 
  6. Make sure the cushions are firm and fit snugly. 
  7. Measure your couch and doorways to ensure that you or movers will be able to get the couch of your choice into your home. Keep doorway measurements with you as you shop for a couch.
  8. Ask about the warranty. A quality furniture store will have no problem offering a generous warranty on their pieces. 

Questions to Ask As You Shop

Asking questions as you shop is one of the best things you can do. This will allow the furniture salesperson to assist you in the best way possible. Here are some questions to consider asking as you shop: 

  • How do I clean the fabric? This question is especially important if the care of the couch is a deciding factor for you. 
  • Can I add a fabric finish to make it easier to clean? 
  • How long will the fabric stay new looking? 
  • Inquire about the frame and fill as they know the furniture best, but make sure you test out the couch as well. 
  • How was the furniture made? Was it handmade or mass-produced? Is it made of recycled materials? Is it made of non-toxic and healthy materials? 
  • Are there matching pieces available? 
  • Is this couch kid and/or pet friendly? 
  • What kind of leather? Full-grain, split, or bonded? 

Best Places to Buy a Couch

Here are a few notable furniture stores, both brick and mortar and online, you may consider purchasing your couch from: 

  1. Pottery Barn. Pottery Barn allows the option of buying either rin store or online. Whether you’re looking for a leather couch or slipcover, Pottery Barn has a wide variety of both. The Barn also offers a variety of frames that are customizable by size, material, cushion, and fill. Shipping is determined by how close you are to a warehouse, and in-home assembly and cleanup is an option. 
  1. IKEA. You can purchase a couch from IKEA via their website or in-store, they also offer free catalogs on their website if you prefer. IKEA offers both new and classic frames, and they have an entirely separate company dedicated to making slipcovers designed specifically for their furniture. IKEA furniture ships flat for affordable delivery, the only potential drawback is you do have to assemble the furniture yourself.  
  1. Wold Market. World Market offers a ton of unique styles from the offbeat to modern and traditional. You can shop in-store or online, and shipping is determined by how much you spend. If the furniture is in-stock it will ship right away, while made to order pieces will leave the warehouse in one to two weeks. There are also a ton of reviews on the website to assist you with your purchase. 
  1. Ashley Furniture. Ashley Furniture has a huge variety of styles and sizes when it comes to couches, and given the quality, are also affordably priced. Ashley only offers in-store purchases, but they do have a website you can shop beforehand. 
  1. Wayfair. Wayfair only offers purchases through their website, but there are a ton of reviews for furniture, and reviewers will often attach photos with their review so shoppers can see what furniture looks like in “real-life”. Wayfair offers free shipping as well as free returns within (30) days of purchase. 
  1. La-Z-Boy. La-Z-Boy offers a variety of couches from large-scale to apartment sizes in a number of upholsters including leather and stain-resistant. 
  1. Article. Article is another online shopping only store, but they keep their prices low and offer a variety of colors and styles. Shipping is a flat rate of $49 and returns are free within (3) days of purchase.  

Final Thoughts 

Buying a new couch is a big investment and is a decision that should be well thought out. When it comes to leather, microfiber, or faux couch options, there are pros and cons of each of them to be considered, and what will be best for you depends on a number of factors. 

Leather couches are extremely durable, but a high-quality piece will be pretty pricey; microfiber is durable and affordable but requires a bit more care, and faux couches are easy to care for and affordable but don’t tend to last very long. 

Which couch fabric is better will depend on a number of factors including your budget, how much attention you want to give your furniture, and who will be utilizing it. 

A high-quality leather couch is going to last the longest, but with proper care, a microfiber or faux leather couch can last several years as well. There are a number of things you can do to make sure your couch lasts a long time such as filling cushions with foam, cleaning spills quickly, and avoiding jumping on the couch or sitting on the arms or back. 

As you begin shopping for your new couch make sure you check out all aspects of the couch including the fit, springs, and any mechanisms. 

A couch is a big investment and one that will be part of your home for several years to come. Knowing what will benefit you best will help you make the best choice. Good luck! 

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