Leather or Fabric? Aniline or Protected? Chenille? Linen? Velvet?
Of all the choices, your first step should be establishing if you would like fabric or leather, your budget, your cleaning expectations and pet's habits. Here are some tips to kick start so that you arrive at this battle armed.
Things to consider:
Am I the dog whisperer? Will my pet really stay off this couch when I am not guarding it? How will pet hair show on my upholstery choice and will it embed itself in the weave and be difficult to clean. Consider how the fabric will react to their nails: will it show scratch marks or become easily damaged? Additionally, you'll want to make sure you choose a fabric that is fairly easy to clean, as drool marks and paw prints are usually inevitable.
Synthetic Fiber: This sounds like a very unexciting option, but we are not talking about micro-fibers / micro suede here. Look for polyesters or polypropylenes that are have higher weights, and higher abrasion ratings. Cleaning synthetics is also fairly easy too, especially if the upholstery code is "W": you can use a simple solution of soap and water.
Tweedy Textures are a DON'T: It's tempting to go with a tweedy fabrics to help to camouflage pet hair but the weave can allow the hair to become wedged in the fibers which makes it difficult to clean.
Fabrics to Avoid: chenille, velvet, wool, linen, silk, and tweed.
Look for: High abrasion ratings (rub counts), tighter weaves, heavier weights.
Tips: Cat lovers; scratching posts cost far less than upholstering your furniture. Keeping one in each room and making sure to choose fabric types that don't appeal to cats will greatly reduce the chances of them taking to your sofas.
The allure of leather is that it is mostly resistant to odour and it doesn't attract pet hair. If by chance some actually happens to find its way onto the cushions, it wipes off easily with a dust cloth.
Here are the three main types of leather:Aniline leather is the most natural looking, with natural surface visible, but is less resistant to soiling.
Protected leather is the most durable but is less natural in appearance, having a polymer coating.
Protected Leather ($)
Good: This is the most durable leather and is used in the majority of furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery. The durability is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments. The surface coating allows the manufacturer more control over the properties of the leather, e.g. resistance to scuffing or fading. If you choose to go with protected leather it is best to select one that is thicker with a heavier weight.
Bad: If your cat or dog scratches it you will have to have the leather professionally repaired.
Semi-aniline leather ($$)
Good: Still more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance. If your pet scratches the leather you can usually buff them out.
Bad: Some Semi - analine have an open grain so spilling or soiling with likely stain the leather. Speak with a sales associate on this because some have a waxed finish which can be helpful.
Aniline leather ($$$)
Good: This is the most natural looking leather and often you can always find "antiqued" or "distressed" leathers that will mask any damage made by your pet. most often you will be able to buff out any markings left by your pet. Analine is also the most natural looking with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible. Aniline leather is coloured only with dye and not with a surface coating of polymer and pigment . A light surface coating may be applied to enhance its appearance and offer slight protection against spillages and soiling.
Bad: Analine is usually a fairly open grain so spilling or soiling with likely stain the leather.
For additional protection: You can also take protective measures by purchasing slipcovers that are easy to remove and clean, or simply throw a blanket over your sofa.