durable upholstery
May 6, 2013 11:34 AM   Subscribe

What is a durable fabric for a sofa?

We're in the market for a new sofa, and several of the catalogs we're looking at have various upholstery options. What are some good options for a couch that will survive a) cats, and b) a toddler? The issue with the cats is BOTH cat hair and clawing. They have clawed the hell out of one of our chairs, but not touched our existing sofa. Unfortunately I don't know what that fabric is called...

E.g., I know that microsuede is a no go; it just collects cat hair like crazy. I'm looking for more tips like that. Is leather a good idea or a bad idea? One catalog offers sofas in army duck. Is that as durable as it sounds?
posted by kestrel251 to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My parents have leather sofas and two claw-happy cats. On one hand, there are scoring marks all over the leather from a decade of scratching. On the other hand, the leather is intact through all of it - and I actually like the wear patterns caused by all those similar-but-different cat-claw attacks.

The problem with durability is that it rarely combines very neatly with comfort. Leather might not hold up its appearance as much as you like, but it'll stay intact through an awful lot, while remaining comfortable.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Our microsuede is a no go, not because it catches cat hair--I've noticed no difference between it and other fabrics--but because our cats LICK it (!!!) and leave giant damp splotches.

We have a leather couch that so far the cats are uninterested in for both clawing and sitting-and-shedding. I don't think they like sitting directly on the leather, and we usually leave an afghan on it, which they sit in (and we just throw that in the wash when necessary). It's new leather, and still kind of stiff. I don't know how it's going to go over the years as the leather gets softer and banged up from normal use.
posted by telophase at 11:48 AM on May 6, 2013

It's counterintuitive, but white canvas slipcovers. The fabric itself is sturdy and because they're white, you can bleach them.
posted by payoto at 11:54 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Army duck is a thick cotton canvas. It'll be stronger than your regular upholstery fabric, but still vulnerable to cat claws. My parents had a pair of duck canvas arm chairs that survived 2 toddlers, and were pretty indestructible. They were stained pretty badly by the end of it though, but a darker color would have helped.

I'm very happy with our leather couch+cats. They haven't had any interest in clawing it. There are a few scratch marks from making wild/startled leaps or fighting. Hair just wipes off, as does liquid spills.

If you do go with fabric, Scotch Guard the hell out of it right away. It will resist stains and miraculously, hair.
posted by fontophilic at 12:11 PM on May 6, 2013

You probably know this, but if you go for leather make sure it is real leather and not bonded leather. I have a storage bench thing-y in my bedroom that is made of bonded leather, and it does look a little shitty at one corner where the cats have scratched. (the underneath non-leather shows). I don't care that much, but it would bug me if it were my living room couch.
posted by maryrussell at 12:12 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


But seriously. I'm pretty happy with our denim sofas. Yes, the cats have clawed them all to hell, but that's MY bad.

I should have bought Sticky Paws and trained my cats NOT to claw the furniture. (I now have cats who go around 3 scratchers to claw my sofa.

But I too think real leather will be a good long term investment. Easily wipable, and with the Sticky Paws the cats should leave it alone.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2013

Leather isn't bad, but consider your climate. We have crazy hot summers and there is nothing worse than sticking to the couch.

We have what used to be a nice upholstered couch and a microfiber recliner. The cats have absolutely shredded the couch arms and it's covered in cat hair that's next to impossible to get off. The recliner hasn't been touched by the cats and it's got hardly any hair at all (and they sleep on it all the time). So as much as I hate microfiber I'm seriously considering it when it's time to replace the couch.

(Okay it's past time to replace the couch but I can't bear to spend a ton of money when I know the cats are going to destroy the arms.)
posted by elsietheeel at 12:23 PM on May 6, 2013

We've had pretty good luck with our microfibre couch. Our trick was to place a decorative throw at the top - only thing our cats dig more than softness is softness covered by more softness. The actual couch is damage free, and we just chuck the throw in the wash ever so often.

That being said, cats are weird, awesome but weird...so YMMV.
posted by ACEness at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2013

We just slipcovered our sofa in Crypton fabric and so far it's lasted remarkably well, despite our dog's best efforts. You don't even worry about spilled liquids on it - it just pools up on the surface.
posted by Mchelly at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2013

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