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4 Best Upholstery Fabrics For Public Spaces

Here is a list and comparison of the best upholstery fabric for institutions and public spaces. Choose according to your preferences. Read more

4 Best Upholstery Fabrics For Public Spaces

Are you opening a cinema? Or a school? Then what do you think would be the last thing on your mind? obviously, the furniture.

I don’t know why, but upholstery and furniture are the least thought about things in public spaces, but as a matter of fact, it is the most used item in public space. Seating, sofas, or chairs are a crucial requirement. So anyone who is supposed to design the seating of a public space would get a lot of pressure from the investors.

No one wants to invest money in an unreliable item, even if it is a tiny needle. Thus, to save you some bucks, and a reputation, we are here to share our favorite upholstery fabrics for public spaces.

Why do we need a different fabric for public spaces? 

upholstery fabrics for public space

So before we start, I would like to address this question. Why do we need something different for public spaces?

Well, if you observe then you can easily understand, you cannot use the same wooden chair in a cinema for a reason; similarly, the chairs in an office corridor are far different in material and design from the ones you have at home.

The reason for this change lies in the needs of the situation. You will expect the following feature from upholstery fabric for a public space.

High Durability

The topmost thing would be durability and lifetime. If a sofa cover cannot last for more than four years, then it should not be taken as a good option for public spaces.

Second, you cannot count the number of people using public spaces. There could be hundreds of people every other day. Now, for such a place some thick fabric is the ultimate choice.


If you have ever been to a cinema or school, then you know there are hundreds of sofas or chairs. So, it will require a huge sum. Thus, anyone responsible to buy the fabric for sofa upholstery must think about the budget.

It should not be taken for granted, because buying in bulk is a far cry from the expected budget of buying fabric for a single sofa set. Thus, a cheaper sofa fabric would be an ideal choice for public spaces.

For instance, if you are getting velvet fabric for 1000 dollars then no matter how durable it is, you cannot choose it for an entire classroom’s chairs. It will be an extra.

Ease of Maintenance

We all are always worried that hospitals, schools, and cinema-like places don’t clean the seating regularly. It is true, they cannot afford such a cleaning routine.

That is why it would be better to choose such a fabric for seating which is easier to clean. Cotton, for instance, can be easily vacuumed, or leather can also be a great option.

Fabrics Comparison

Now, once you are aware of the reason why we need a different type of fabric for public spaces, it would be easier to understand why we picked these four types of upholstery fabrics for public spaces.

NameDurabilityAffordabilitySafe to UseEase of Maintenance
Leather fabricVery HighVery LowYesVery High
Polyester fabricHighVery HighNot muchModerate
MicrofiberVery HighHighNot muchModerate


We all know that leather is royalty. Leather bags, covers, and shoes, all are luxury items. But have you ever wondered why is that so?

Leather Fabric
Durability ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of Maintenance ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Safe to use ⭐⭐⭐
Affordability ⭐⭐

Easy to Clean

Well, it’s mainly because leather is quite easier to clean. You don’t have to think much of hiring some help or purchasing strong chemicals to clean leather covers.

Secondly, if by accident something gets on the leather seats, it will be super easy to clean it instantly. That is why we get leather covers in our car seats.

Safe on the Skin

Then no one gets allergies to sitting on leather seats. Thus, if you are afraid that people coming to a particular public space would get irritated or have skin allergies, then choose a safe fabric, and leather can be the one.


Unlike linen or cotton yarn, you would not worry about a torn area of the sofa seating when it is covered with leather.

As per some research, unlike the regular fabric sofa cover, a leather sofa cover can stay for more than 15 years. Isn’t it intriguing?

However, as these researchers are based on indoor usage; thus, we can shrink this period down to eight years for a public space.

Increases the Resale Value

Purchasing and setting up a public area is a type of investment for money. You never know if your business will be profitable or not. But still, you need to set the entire area; so there is a risk.

Would you like to invest in things that would make your loss even worse? Sadly, people don’t consider this aspect when purchasing stuff for their business. Worry not, when having a leather sofa and seating, you don’t need to think about the resale price. It will be nearly equal to the actual price, or in some cases more than that.

The reason for it is the durability of leather covers, they would still last for more than a decade.

Polyester Fabric

Just like natural fabrics, synthetic fabrics can also perform better in public spaces. The top of the list in this regard would be polyester fabrics. There are numerous reasons for that, so let us explain each one to you.

Polyester Fabric
Durability ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of maintenance ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Safe to use ⭐⭐⭐
Affordability ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


The top reason for choosing polyester for sofa upholstery when purchasing in bulk is “Money”. You get to save a huge sum when investing in polyester. In comparison to all the natural upholstery fabrics available, polyester is way more affordable. It would cut down the total price to half. The reason for that is the production cost, it does not require water or any hard-to-get chemicals for its production.


Is polyester as durable as leather? The answer to this question is “no”, but it is as good as cotton or linen. So if you feel that the people using the prospective seating area would be educated and well-mannered then going for polyester as the sofa upholstery can be a good option.

The polymer size of polyester is relatively larger than other synthetic fabrics, therefore, it does not tear off that easily. This structure of polyester fabric makes it very durable.

As per research, polyester sofa fabrics can last for up to 10 years, but again, these surveys were done for indoor usage. So for public spaces, we could say that a polyester sofa fabric can stay for up to 8 years.

Easy to Maintain

The next thing on your list would be the cost to maintain upholstery fabric. Polyester does not need much effort to keep it clean. Except for oils, the polyester fabric can resist all other types of stains.

For instance, at a canteen, or in a restaurant, there is a risk that people might spill soda or juices on the couches. But you don’t need to worry much about that.

Lastly, we cannot say that cleaning polyester sofa fabric is unnecessary. You will need a staff to regularly clean the sofas when covered with polyester fabric.

One more thing about the maintenance is polyester fabric’s slow fading process. Most of the polyester fabrics available in the market fade slower than other fabrics. The reason for that is the use of a particular chemical in the manufacturing process, it makes polyester immune to color loss. Thus, you can maintain the fabulous look of your place, be it an office or a dining area without changing the sofa fabric very often.

Safe to Use

One thing which makes polyester a risky choice for a public space’s seating is “inflammability” polyester can easily catch fire.

Secondly, as polyester is manufactured with several strong chemicals, thus for people with sensitive skin it might not be the best choice. Thus, if you plan to have it for a skin clinic, you should rethink it.


Next on the list is another natural fabric. It has some unique properties that can make it an ideal choice for public spaces. Let us explore.

Wool fabric
Durability ⭐⭐⭐
Ease of maintenance ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Safe to use ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Affordability ⭐⭐


Then we have mixed wool, which is not pure wool because that might not stay for more than 8 years. But, mixed wool sofa fabric would stay for nearly a decade or more.


Small investors and businessmen should not think about wool sofa fabrics. Wool is a naturally produced fabric, therefore, its price is quite high. But, in the low-demand season, you might get it at a lower rate.

However, if you have a limited budget, then buying wool in bulk might not be possible for you. It can turn into a high-risk game because many sellers might not sell good quality wool, and you may feel that it is your chance to renovate your space with wool; remember any cheap wool is a scam.

Ease of Maintenance

Unlike cotton or linen, the structure of the wool fabric is pretty different. It has scales that would not let the dust or dander get absorbed into the deeper layer of the fabric.

Thus, this overlying dust is easy to vacuum. So, we cannot really say that maintaining wool fabric for sofas is quite hard. In fact, vacuuming it once in a while will be enough.

Safe to Use

The best feature of wool is its non-combustible feature. So the ideal space for having wool-covered sofas is a restaurant, where there can be a chance of fire-related accidents. Secondly, if it is a hospital or a lab, then again a fire-immune fabric would be highly appreciated.


Coming back to synthetic fabrics, so after polyester and microfiber has to be the second best choice. Currently, it is the most common synthetic fabric used for public and institutional spaces. There are multiple reasons for it so let us see each of them.

Durability ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of maintenance ⭐⭐⭐
Safe to use ⭐⭐
Affordability ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


As microfiber is a new thing for many buyers, thus, they don’t really know about its durability. To cut the long story short, we can safely say that a microfiber sofa cover can last up to a decade.

Microfiber is created by mixing polyester and nylon, on top of that, the structure of the microfiber fabric would not let it tear off very easily. So it would be a win-win for the investor.


The second best thing about microfiber is the price. It feels just like smooth wool and linen, but at the same time, its price is pretty low.

You can easily buy microfiber fabric in bulk without paying a huge amount. Probably it is the main reason why it is becoming increasingly popular among the masses.

Ease of Use

Cleaning microfiber sofa fabric is hard, just like polyester or cotton, but at the same time, you will not need to clean it very often.

It has a stain-resistant property, thanks to the polyester qualities in it. So, you can avoid the deep cleaning of microfiber-covered sofas. They will not require that much effort.

Safe to Use

Now coming to the last main concern, “is it safe to use”. Imagine what can happen in an institutional space. It can catch fire, or people might get skin allergies by sitting on the most frequently used sofas.

So, here, unfortunately, microfiber cannot be taken as the best choice. As it is manufactured with polyester and nylon and they can easily catch fire. Secondly, it is a synthetic fabric, which can potentially cause skin allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which upholstery fabric is ideal for institutional spaces?

The ideal fabric for a frequently used area would be leather.

Which sofa fabric is the most affordable for public spaces?

Microfiber or polyester is the most affordable choice for public space seating.

Is cotton fabric a good choice for public space upholstery?

No, cotton is not only expensive but it is also prone to wear out very easily.

Final Words

We have narrowed down the most useful fabrics for public spaces. You cannot use the same indoor fabric for a place where there would be hundreds of people using the sofas every day.

Our top pick would be leather if you can invest a huge amount, but for a limited budget, the ideal choice can be polyester or microfiber.

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Aleksy Kazmer

Aleksy is a full-time blogger born and raised in Warsaw. After earning a degree in MS English from Oxford University, he began utilizing his skills as a content writer to express what he’s most passionate about. Whether it's home improvement, decor, furniture, cleaning products, or DIY projects. Aleksy has a natural curiosity to pursue hidden tips and share them with readers.