You can have both live-in dogs and beautiful furniture if you choose your upholstery fabrics carefully. Aside from leather, synthetics are your best bet for durable, easy-to-clean and aesthetically appealing fabrics that will satisfy all your lazy dogs lounging needs.
Leather sofas are durable, stain resistant and usually gain character as they age. Dog hairs brush off easily, and muddy footprints are quickly and easily wiped away with a damp cloth. Leather also is resistant to punctures from sharp claws though it can be scratched. Although leather furniture is generally more expensive to buy, you get a good return on your investment because it holds up well over a long period. An added benefit of leather is that it self-extinguishes in flames making it a safer choice for households that include a smoker. Leather can feel cold to the touch, however, and anyone who is ethically sensitive to the slaughter of animals will be opposed to using this animal-skin as a furniture covering. Color choices in leather also are limited.
Vinyl is less expensive than leather, but slightly less durable, as well. Like leather, high-grade vinyl has incredible stain resistance and the ability to hold its shape well, but it is more vulnerable to punctures from pet claws. Because vinyl is a synthetic fabric, it is a good choice for anyone who likes the look and feel of leather but is opposed to killing animals. Although vinyl comes in a range of colors, its resistance to fading varies with the quality of the vinyl chosen.
Also called microsuede due to its similarity to the soft form of leather, microfiber fabric is easy to clean and is soft to the touch with a velvety texture. Microfiber fabric holds up well to the lounging habits of people and pets if it is of a higher grade and given an adequate backing material for stability. Unlike leather and vinyl, microfiber does not feel cold when you first sit on it and it is more breathable so you don’t feel sweaty or sticky during hot humid weather. It is less resistant to oily stains than leather or vinyl. Because of its static buildup, dog hair tends to cling to microfiber and is not easily brushed away without a lint roller or a vacuum brush. Microfiber furniture comes in a variety of colors.
Also used to make awnings and patio umbrellas, acrylic fabric found its way into the outdoor furniture market before becoming a popular choice for interior furniture. This fabric is highly moisture resistant, easy to clean and comes in a limitless range of patterns and colors. Acrylic does not stand up well to abrasion and has a tendency to pill over time. This problem is less noticeable in higher quality acrylic fabrics. Like microfiber, acrylic fabric needs a sturdy backing material to give fabric stability and prevent sagging. If you prefer florals, stripes or other patterns on your sofa, acrylic is an excellent choice.
Jenny Newberry, a former teacher with 25 years of experience, is a professional writer and photographer and holds a B.S. and a M.Ed. in elementary and special education from the University of South Alabama. She is also a history buff, praise and worship pianist, pet enthusiast, avid crafter and hobby gardener.