Buying a new sofa? Getting an old one reupholstered? In either case, which type of upholstery to choose is certainly a consideration. For many, microfiber is a popular choice due to its reputation for easy clean up and durability. But like anything else, those who have been there have differing opinions - here are some pros and cons from the wise Apartment Therapy readership:
• From Kathryn
I have two orange chairs covered in microfiber suede and I would definitely recommend it!! The material looks and feels great and it really does clean up easily. I accidently got pen ink on one of them and was able to get the entire stain out.
• From AJ
Do it. I love white and cream colors for couches so it is a necessity that I can clean the material easily. I purcahsed a white microfiber sectional a year ago and have spilled or dumped tons of things on it. Mr Clean magic eraser cleans it off every time. Seriously. you would think it is still brand spanking new. The fabric is also soft and cozy.
• From Alex
I have a microfiber sofa, albeit in a chocolate brown color, and NOTHING shows on it, no matter how sloppy I am when I eat dinner at the coffee table! And, Candice, to answer your question: cats can't get a claw into it, since the weave is so tight. So they end up giving up on it as a scratching post (this is my experience with two different cats).
• From Rose
I use to sell furniture and got pretty familiar with the fabric. It's great for easy clean up. The only problem is it creates a lot of static,and you kind of "stick" to it. If you have pets or kids it is great!
• From Rucy
I really love it. It's so easy to take care of, it never seems to wear down, it's the only 'fake' fabric I actually like. If you're buying a microfiber piece of furniture, I'd ask for multiple fabric samples beforehand, and take them home and beat the heck out of them. Pour wine on them and see how easy it is to clean, pour grape juice on, smear ketchup (OK, Buffalo Hot Wings sauce), because if it's decent quality everything tends to bead right off in my experience. If you need to clean it, with any kind of soap, use the bubbles/foam only (from lathering the soap).
• From Samantha
We have a white "micro-suede" couch from The Sofa Co. We had it custom made to fit our space and it cost a lot. When we bought the nice lady told us it would be easy to upkeep... I'm not sure if it's because the color is white or because I am a super neat freak, but the material is not as easy to clean/upkeep as they say. If you get a light color, anytime you sit on it with jeans or dark clothes the fibers of those clothes transfer and get stuck in the microfiber material. Then you have to make sure your hands are clean and lotion free because when you go to pull out the fibers (vaccum doesn't suck em out), the oils from your hands can leave marks.
• From Diane
I'm so sorry I got a microfiber couch. My cats got their claws inot the seams and pulled the thread where it's joined...and worse yet, it's a hair magnet. Think suede or wool coat and cats rubbing against you-the microfiber captures the hair and won't let go unless you wipe it with a damp cloth. Worst thing I ever did. My old fabric couch cleaned up nicely for spills and hair didn't stick to the smooth surface.
• From Shannon
Add me to the growing list of microfiber-haters. I agree that it looks tacky in general, but the easy clean-up does appeal to me. But when I bought a sofa, I needed down cushions and a light color, so I got a slipcovered one. We've gotten chocolate, red wine, and those dreaded jean stains on it, and every time we wash it (twice in the year since I've had it), it looks brand-new.
• From Jey
I would never again buy a micro fiber couch. I have had to reupolster my Classic Sofa couch twice. Yes, the cats had something to do with the second time. But the first time I didn't have cats. Why did I use micro fiber the second time? Because the company didn't charge me for the fabric (if I used the same) and only charged me for labor. THey also convinced me that the first time the material disintegrated was a fluke.
• From Robyn
1) Light colors look dirty right away
2) "Swirl" marks are quite annoying and make the furniture look stained even if it isn't
3) There is resistance between the microfiber and the fabric of your clothes -- you rather stick to it and can't adjust your position easily
4) STATIC! Lint and little threads, errant feathers from down pillows, you name it and it will stick to your sofa. I can't prove it, but I think stuff flies in from other rooms. For me, this negates the benefit of the "easy clean up" aspect of microfiber -- I spill something maybe twice a year, but have to deal with the lint everyday.
WORDS OF WISDOM to remember while shopping from Angie:
I think the thing to remember is that microfibre, like any other fabric, is available in many, many different qualities and weights. Just as some companies use better cotton canvas than others, some use better microfibre than others. The best things to look for are:
- does the showroom model look SUPER saggy, or just a little (of course it will look a little worn in, I'm sure there are more than the average number of people sitting on it every day than in a home situation)
- Does the fabric feel firm when you run your hand across it, or can you feel every little lump of stuffing? Does the fabric seem to "float" away from the filling?
- How tight are the seams sewn? You should not be able to see very clearly any of the threads holding together the seams. If so this means the fabric is too thin, and the stitches of the seam are too far apart. Not good workmanship
- Ask if it comes with a scotch-guard/protective treatment, this is a must!! I have spilt countless things on my microfibre sofa, and was able to get everything out just fine, since I have this coating. The toughest thing though was dye from dark jeans, but that is more of a "light coloured couch problem" than a microfibre problem.
Have an opinion on microfiber upholstery to share? Please let us know in the comments below …
Image: Baxter Sofa from West Elm