What Is Upholstery, and Why Is It Important?

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What Is Upholstery, and Why Is It Important?

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing new furniture. One of those considerations is the design and quality of the upholstery. If you’re unfamiliar with upholstery and want to learn more before you go shopping for your next furniture piece, here’s what you need to know about upholstery and why it’s important.

What Is Upholstery?

Seating options consist primarily of two parts: the framing and the upholstery. Framing is the basic shape of and structural support for a piece of furniture. Upholstery is everything else—the padding, the webbing, the springs, and the fabric.

Types of Upholstery Fabrics

The fabric is what you notice most about upholstery. There are several types of upholstery fabric you can choose from, each with its pros and cons. Here are five of the most common fabrics used for upholstering furniture.


This extra-soft, natural fabric is a common choice for upholstery. It offers a nice blend of comfort and sturdiness. It also doesn’t tear or fade easily, but it is prone to staining and can be hard to clean.


Another comfy natural fabric, wool is an excellent choice for furniture placed in high-traffic areas as it’s resistant to pilling and staining. However, if you don’t dry it quickly after spilling on it or washing it, wool can absorb odors and start to smell.


A costly but luxurious option, silk has a smooth, velvety texture and a beautiful, lustrous sheen. Silk might not hold up very well, though, so you should only put it on pieces that are rarely used.


This fuzzy, looped fabric is often visually compared to a caterpillar or sheep fur. It’s soft and warm. The unparalleled comfort it provides is just one reason why you should choose boucle fabric for your furniture.


One of the oldest and most reliable fabrics in the world, linen is cost-friendly, hypoallergenic, and easy to care for. Linen’s main downside is that it’s prone to wrinkling, which can be a turn-off for those who don’t like that lived-in feel.

Why Does It Matter?

You now know what upholstery is, but why does it matter? Two reasons—number one is comfort. There’s nothing wrong with solid wood or metal furniture, but those pieces aren’t known for being comfortable to sit on. Upholstery provides extra warmth, softness, and support that makes you want to plunk down on a piece of furniture and relax.

Upholstery also adds personality to your furniture. Don’t settle for cookie-cutter pieces that don’t match your style. Upholstery fabrics come in a wide array of colors and patterns you can customize precisely to your liking.

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