Office Chair – Fabric vs Leather: Which Is Better?

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Long days in the office don’t feel as long when you have a comfortable office chair. 

I find that the more comfortable the chair is, the easier it is to concentrate on work. But what kind of chair do you prefer? 

For most people, the debate is between office chair fabric vs leather. And with so many people working from home, the office furniture industry in the U.S. is now worth $12.94 billion.

Fabric Chairs vs Leather Chairs 

Whether you prefer fabric or leather chairs probably depends a lot on personal preferences. If longevity is your priority, leather chairs are a better choice. 

They’re more durable than fabric. They can also be better at holding the weight of a human being, depending on the model. 

After an extended period of time, a fabric chair might degrade more noticeably. Long-term use wears out the fabric and lessens its physical strength. 

Or, you may get bored looking at a solid colored chair every day.  If that’s the case, and you’d like something more visually appealing, you’ll likely prefer fabric chairs. 

This way, you can choose colors and patterns that appeal to you. Alternatively, you can dye a fabric chair any color you want. So you’ll have more variety than you would with a leather chair. 

Another consideration is how breathable you want your office chair to be. Spending hours every day sitting in it is a good excuse to choose fabric over leather. It will keep you cooler, no matter how long you have to sit in the chair on any given work day.

Then again, fabric is harder to keep clean than leather. You may have difficulty getting stains off of a fabric office chair. On the other hand, leather office chairs require regular cleaning. You’ll need to follow up with an application of leather protectant in order to keep the chair comfortable to sit in. 

Types Of Fabric Office Chairs

An example “standard” fabric chair (one of the ones in my collection at home)

Fabric office chairs can be made with acrylic, velvet, polyester and chenille. Each one has certain benefits over the others.


Acrylic office chairs can be comfortable because they are very soft. But they are also good at resisting the effects of sunlight, oils, and soil. 

The material is less likely to shrink than other office chair materials. It also helps keep them free of mildew. Plus, acrylic dries quickly, making the cleaning process more efficient. 


Velvet is also soft, comfortable, and durable. If you’re picky about the color of your office chair, velvet gives you a lot of options. 

And though the material may temporarily shrink while you’re sitting on it, it will bounce back when you’re done using the chair for the day. Last but not least, it’s spill resistant. So, if you tend to drink at your desk, it may be your best choice for fabric.


Polyester office chairs may last longer than others. And no matter how many years of use you get out of it, the material won’t shrink or wrinkle. 

Since polyester is made with natural and synthetic fibers, the color won’t fade. This also makes it stain resistant. 

If you have sensitive skin or an allergy to fabric, a polyester office chair may provide the most comfort. It repels allergens like dust and pollen. 


The main benefit of Chenille is that it’s a breathable material, unlike leather. Its texture makes it ideal for sitting on during the cold winter months. 

Chenille is even effective at hiding dirt and stains. And the material won’t become abrasive over time. You can use a Chenille office chair for years and it will remain as soft as it was when you bought it.

Pros and Cons of Leather Office Chairs

Here’s a fellow adjusting a leather chair. Adjust away good sir.

For a more upscale look, leather office chairs seem to be the general preference of business executives. There are pros and cons to choosing leather over fabric. 


Image and comfort level are the two main pros. Regularly meeting with high-profile clients calls for  elegance in office furniture choices. 

Leather chairs have a glossy finish that makes them look top-notch all the time. They are ideal for sitting since they have extra padding that conforms to your body. But leather bounces back when you’re not sitting in the chair. 


There are some downsides to choosing a leather chair. 

One big disadvantage is that they don’t circulate air very well. That could be a problem when you’re enduring long work hours on a hot day. The best way to avoid this is to make sure your office is well ventilated. 

Another common downside is that leather chairs tend to be a little more expensive.

Of course, this is not always the case. There are top-end mesh chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron that can set you back $1 – 2000. So, the brand and model are key elements of the price equation.

How Long Do Leather Office Chairs Last?

Properly maintained, a leather chair can last as much as 10 years. In general, the less you use it every day, the longer you can use it for. 

On average, spending 1/3 of your day using the chair will preserve it over the course of 10 years. Any use beyond that will shorten the number of years it’s comfortable and safe to use. 

Excessive use of a leather office chair means you’ll probably only get four to six years out of it. 

But it’s more than just frequency of use that determines its life span. The legs and stand of the chair have to be the highest possible quality for you to get 10 years of use out of it. 

Leather office chairs last longer if they are dusted every week. Using the soft brush attachment from your vacuum is the best way to get dust off your chair. 

Anything else could do damage to the leather. It’s also important to only use the vacuum on the lowest suction setting. But it takes more than just dusting to maintain it. You’ll then need to use cloth made of lint-free fabric to wipe the leather down. 

It usually takes a light swipe of the cloth to finish the cleaning job. If a dry cloth isn’t enough to get it clean, you may need to apply water and liquid soap, using a wet, but not dripping wet, cloth. 

You can even take it one step further and apply a leather protector/conditioner. Keep in mind that not every leather office chair requires the same type of leather protector. The manufacturer of your office chair can tell you what you need to use. 

How Long Do Fabric Office Chairs Last?

Typically, a fabric office chair lasts between five and 10 years. Their life span depends on how well you take care of them. 

There are two effective ways to clean fabric office chairs so they last longer. The simplest way is to wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. But if your chair needs a deeper cleaning, consider using a steamer on one section at a time.

The best way to remove stains from a fabric chair is to take a soft cloth and wet it with hydrogen peroxide. It’s always a good idea to try it on one small area of the chair to make sure it won’t damage it. Then you can spot clean the rest of the chair. 

Which Type Of Office Chair Is The Best For Long Hours?

Some people prefer the feel of leather when working long hours in the office.

Its softness makes leather comfortable and in some cases more durable than cheaper fabric office chairs. 

However, there are a few different grades of leather, with the highest grade being the most comfortable. Premium leather office chairs will likely have a longer shelf life than any other kinds of office chairs.  

Of course, others prefer the feeling of traditional fabric chairs. This is particularly the case if you’re living in a hot environment or tend to sweat easily. As mentioned, leather is not breathable compared to most fabric options.

Premium-grade fabric chairs like the Steelcase Leap often work every bit as well for long workdays.

In many cases, the material type alone may not be the deciding factor. Instead, you may want to consider the ergonomic features offered by your chair. 

In particular, how well can the chair be adapted to your particular body type? 

Is the seat adjustable, both by height and depth? Is there comfortable lumbar support, and is this adjustable?

Ultimately, the material type is a matter of personal preference and will need to be considered in context of a chairs’ overall comfort.

The Argument For Vinyl vs Leather Chairs

You’ll find that some ergonomic chairs are made of vinyl. However, it’s not unusual for vinyl to look like leather. 

When choosing your office chair, you’ll want to pay close attention to the materials used. Even though vinyl and leather look similar, one holds up better than the other.

When it comes to durability, leather wins over vinyl every time. And while leather gets softer with use, this is never the case with vinyl. You’ll find that vinyl resists fading and cracking, but leather chairs will often fade and crack over time. This is especially true if they are exposed to sunlight. 

How To Tell Vinyl Office Chairs From Leather Office Chairs 

There are a few signs that an office chair is either upholstered in leather or vinyl. One of them is its scent. While the scent of leather is natural, vinyl can give off odors due to the chemicals used. 

Another way to tell them apart is their appearance. Leather office chairs have small pores. But vinyl chairs lack pores because they are made from synthetic materials. 

And while vinyl chairs have a smooth surface, leather chairs have rough edges and distinctive hide marks. 

Since vinyl is smooth, it has no texture, where leather chairs do. Touch the chair to see if it is soft or not. If it’s soft, it’s leather. If not, it’s vinyl. Leather always has a flexibility that vinyl does not have. 

Final Thoughts

If you live in a hotter climate or are concerned about sweat build up, a fabric chair is likely to work better for you.

A fabric chair may be the better pick if you’re concerned about cost or simply like the type of cushioning that comes with most fabric seats.

On the other hand, if you like the sophisticated look of leather and want something durable, leather may be more up your alley.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your preferences. Hopefully, this article has highlighted a few things to consider. Thanks for reading!