Need sofa buying advice. Leather vs microfiber for kids?

mwe_writerSeptember 5, 2006

We desperately need a new sofa, so we went and looked at them this past weekend.

We saw a few that we liked. The ones that DH and I both liked are an expensive special-order Thomasville microfiber one in cocoa, a less expensive ($750) leather one in a cream color, a less expensive ($650) microfiber one in a cream color, and a less expensive ($750) microfiber one in a light mocha color.

We have six-year-old twins who aren't as gentle with furniture as I'd like. We're going to talk with them about being more careful with the new sofa, but it will still need to be family friendly (somewhat stain and scratch/puncture resistant).

I'm really nervous about buying leather, as I've never had leather furniture before. I'm also really nervous about buying anything in the cream color. The furniture salespeople assured us that neither cream-colored sofa would stain, and said that spills and things "wipe right off" both leather and microfiber. But what about crayon? Newspaper ink? Can you actually set a newspaper down on a cream-colored sofa and expect it not to end up gray?

Would a really light-colored microfiber sofa be less likely to show stains/dirt than the leather? Or would leather really be better?

So ... if you have kids, what sort of sofas do you have? Would you recommend microfiber or leather? Also, do you think that light colors like cream would really be stain resistant, or would darker colors (mocha) be more family friendly?

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We don't have kids, but we do have two fully clawed cats and a rambunctious puppy.

We have both leather and microfiber furniture, and the materials seem to wear equally well.

However, we tested many different leathers and microfibers before we found ones that would truly stand up to the "elements."

It's critical to get swatches of the materials you're considering, even if you have to pay for them or wait a few weeks to have materials sent to your house.

We must have tested 15 different samples of each material before we found ones that were nearly indestructible. We attacked them with all manner of dirts, and submitted them to simulated cat clawing.

Only thick, dyed-through leather hides will stand up to the test of time. The thinner, higher-sheen leathers will start to show wear more quickly.

I don't think cream leather is a good idea, because no matter what they say, it will show stains, marks, etc. A chocolate or black leather is just more practical.

So, my point is that it really depends on the specific microfiber or leather you're considering. In some cases, a more expensive microfiber will hold up better than a less expensive leather.

But you really need to get swatches and put them through "real-world" tests at home first...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 2:41PM
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What leather manufacturer did you purchase for your
furniture and what leather seemed to be indestructable?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 8:01AM
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We are shopping for new sofas too. The salesperson at Thomasville said leather is much better for kids, and while microfiber is washable, you have to take the covers off all the pieces to actually wash them (or else just spot clean). But Thomasville has certain kinds of leather that are treated and indestructible. We are going with leather (have kids aged 5, 3, and 1).

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 10:21AM
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The manufacturer of our couch is American Leather -- they supply pieces to several different stores. The website has a dealer locator feature (see link below).

We purchased the couch from Room & Board, where the leather was called Dyson. The dog has been all over the couch since we bought it, and it's not showing the effects at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: American Leather

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 11:11AM
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We have 4 boys; enough said. Thought about leather. Funny the one thing I notice on websites like Craigslist where people sell used furniture; the leather sofas looked strecthed out on the seats. That doesn't go away. Something to think about.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 2:56PM
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You can always reupholster a fabric sofa but leather can be touchy. Do some homework via internet about the different kinds of leather. My daughter bought Sealy leather sofas (via North Carolina) with upgrade spring and fiber cushions. The sofas have nailheads around them. Her boys are all over them all the time and she just keeps wiping them down. It's been 5 years and they still look great. Their leather sofas are very supple compared to mine which is more like the Ralph Lauren cowboy look. We bought ours at Arizona Leather Company which might have a website to tell you about the different leathers. You do get what you pay for. Check out ordering from No. Carolina. Great bargains to be had especially now and in October. We saved so much and freight from NC to CA wasn't that bad and it certainly didn't come anywhere near store prices. You need to get numbers on store pieces that you like - re (hancock moore, thomasville, Sherrill, etc.) then go online to Google and put in North Carolina furniture outlets. Once you find a store, those people will bend over backwards to getting you want you want.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 6:06PM
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I don't think you will like the microfiber as it leaves impressions (like suede) the second you touch it. With kids, I'd go with leather. Our microfiber pieces are quality pieces, but they sit in the family room pretty much unused as we have a media room for the tv. And I like it that way as they stay looking smooth and undisturbed. I am a neatnik, so I brush my microfiber pieces a couple of times a week to keep the dust from building up and getting into the nape. I also brush them after each use as I hate the butt marks.

By contrast, the leather pieces in the tv room get daily use--and they look great. Leather is strong, but it will scratch. We have a cat and she does not get to use the leather furniture for fear of her claws scratching the leather. We have a textured grain leather; it seems to be more durable than the smooth stuff. My brother has the smooth stuff and 4 kids that have no concept of gentle behavior. They are pure rought and tumble types. Their furniture looked beat up within months.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 7:13PM
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I just wanted to add that we had a fabric sofa for about 7 years and we hated it because we coulnd't keep it clean. We have 3 children that are normal kids. We bought a leather sofa last year. We love it and I would never go back to fabric with children. I know you asked about microfiber, but I haven't owned that before. I love the leather for easy clean up with the kids. If it gets dirty you just take a damp cloth and wipe it off. Its very carefree in my opinion. Good Luck in your choices.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 12:23AM
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Microfiber is cleanable, not washable. Big difference.
Clean it with a sponge. NEVER take a cover off and wash it.
The indestructable leathers are called bi-cast. They are split hides infused with polyurethane.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 11:51AM
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For those of you who have leather sofas, what color(s) are they?

Do any of you have lighter, cream- or beige-colored leather? Do you regret buying such a light color?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 7:19PM
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Our leather sofa is deep chocolate brown. It doesn't show any stains.

We previously had "espresso" leather couches, which were almost black. I thought that was a bit too severe.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 6:36PM
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Go to and click their link for "leathers". You will learn a lot from that site and 6 years ago I bought a leather sofa with animals and kids and it's still perfect. I bought a 5 year protection policy from Guardsman which wasn't very much but never had to use it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 6:49PM
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"Only thick, dyed-through leather hides will stand up to the test of time."

So true. Many places have leather which is actually very thin since they shave it off in layers. That's why so many couches look stretched out.

We purchased our leather one from JC Penneys. On sale. It a cordovan (brownish burgandy) color. At the same time, we got Flexsteel and Broyhill couches which were not cheap. The Flexsteel frame got wobbly and the fabric shredded. The Broyhill is looking worse for wear and has a slipcover. The leather is holding up great with only occasional wiping.

We have 4 normal kids and 2 messy adults. The shape of the cushions is still looking good. I will never buy anything else again.

The better the quality the leather the better it will hold up. Don't fall for a salesman's speech. Read up and decide what will work for you. I have a friend with microfiber and she's "OK" with it. Not overly impressed.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 4:08PM
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Our leather pieces are a deep burgundy. The color is dark enough to not look soiled at the slightest use, yet light enough to not look sever.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 2:29PM
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If the microfiber sofa is sold at USD 750,at the same price as the leather sofa,I suggest you to choose the leather sofa!
Leather sofas touch comfortable,cool in summer and warm in winter because it's made of natural cow hide! Microfiber is faux leather,it may look great but not natural.
Leather sofas need more care and maintanance but it will last long if it's taken care of properly. It adds great comfort to your daily life.
But you need to check carefully if the leather is top leather or split leather. Split leather last only 2-3 years or even shorter time!
Learn more and view over 2000 leather sofa models at

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 1:06PM
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I buy Ashley leather furniture and it looks brand new. I've had it 4 yrs and I have six kids, ages 1-11. It is durable, beautiful and well made. Ashley furniture is VERY well priced. I actually got mine at a Big Lots as closeout furniture. You need to look at Ashley Furniture Stores and at Big Lots. I paid $399 for my contemporary leather couch in chocolate brown. I don't care what anyone says about any kind of fabric. When a sticky hand touches leather, you get a wet rag and wipe it off, one second later, its like nothing ever happened! My mom's $900 microfiber couch at year 5 with one grandchild in the house was sent to the goodwill.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 6:01PM
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If you need help deciding if you should by a leather or microfiber sofa, this blog is a great resource. Check it out as it explains what you need to consider before making your final purchase.

Here is a link that might be useful: Leather vs Microfiber Sofas

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:21AM
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I have a 5 yr old microfiber couch and I hate it! I listened to the salesperson and should have gotten the leather furniture as I intended. I have 4 children and pets and my couch is a pain to keep clean. It is chocolate brown and shows ever speck of pet hair, fingerprint and butt marks (as someone had mentioned). And it is difficult, if not impossible to remove certain stains. There is crayon and chapstick art on the arm of the chair that I have tried to remove for 4 yrs, compliments of my 2 yr old artist. I say, get the leather, like I wish I would have!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 8:03PM
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You have to remember that the leather many are talking about is not actually real leather but rather bonded/blended/bicast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Leather Furniture Guide What Is Bonded Leather

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 4:38PM
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