Open car door interior

Pros and Cons of 6 Car Upholstery Fabrics

How many hours a day do you spend sitting in your car as you dart around town? How about in a month? A year? The average American spends 267 hours a year sitting in their car. And if that’s the average, that means a lot of you are spending a lot more time than that in your vehicle. It’s almost like a second home. Earlier on the blog we covered carpet care, and today we are following up with upholstery care. With so much time spent sitting in the car, the upholstery you’re sitting on is an important investment. Depending on your needs, the type of car upholstery fabric is important. Today, we will go over the pros and cons of some different types of upholstery to help you make the best decision.

Leather car interior

Faux Leather

This can be a good alternative to real leather if you want the look without the price tag. Faux leather is considerably cheaper than real leather and is also a breeze to clean. Spilled drinks, dirt-covered shoes, wet clothes on a rainy day—faux leather can roll with punches and remain unstained. The downside to faux leather is that it’s not as durable as real leather. After a few years the upholstery can start to crack, and it won’t get that classic aged look of real leather.

Real Leather

Some manufacturers only include leather seats in more high-end models, and the price for custom installment will have definitely have four digits. However, real leather is also luxurious, stylish and durable. Real leather can last up to 20 years and acquires a sophisticated aged look over time. Also, to compliment the durability, real leather is also easy to clean and wipes off most messes without staining. Despite all that, leather still has its downsides (the obvious one being the price). To keep it looking extravagant it needs to be cared for and kept clean. Otherwise, your investment will fade overtime. If you live somewhere with a hot summer, the leather will feel hot as a cattle brand. Then in the winter it will become just as uncomfortably cold.


Of all the options on this list, Vinyl takes the prize for being easy to clean. Mud, soda, and even tough spills like ink won’t stain the seat. Whether you’re a parent with roughhousing kids or an outdoor enthusiast with gear in the backseat, vinyl can take it. Also, quality vinyl can look almost identical to leather but will start to wear earlier. However, cleanliness and durability come at the cost of comfort. Long drives or long days driving around town aren’t vinyl’s specialty. Vinyl may start to wear on you if you have a long commute or spend hours in the car a time.


Along with leather, suede is attractive, comfortable, and expensive. If you’re looking for a suave, polished interior to match your slick look, suede delivers. If you’re looking for upholstery with a delicate cotton feel, suede delivers. However, suede isn’t used as often as other fabrics. It doesn’t last long, is easily scratched, worn, and stained, and isn’t particularly easy to clean. The main draw is definitely the look. The drawback is the lack of practicality.


Installing polyester seats comes with a trade-off. On one hand, polyester resembles suede for a luxury look without the luxury price. Technically, it is made out of a material called microsuede which is designed to mimic the expensive fabric. Spruce up your car with polyester and you’ll transform your interior with an eye-catching look. On the other hand, polyester upholstery is a wimp when it comes to stains. It doesn’t up put up a fight against dirt, spills (even water) or food. Keep cleaning products on hand, and make sure they are approved for your specific upholstery. Otherwise, Polyester’s rich décor will be haunted with distracting stains.


If nylon makes you think of nylon stockings, don’t worry. You won’t be paying for a burlesque show when you purchase nylon. Instead, you’ll be purchasing a durable, inexpensive and decently stain-resistant fabric. While dirt easily can get stuck in polyester, the fabric is simple to clean or vacuum. The superpower of Nylon, though, is that it has superman-like resistance to abrasions. However, the kryptonite of Nylon is sun damage. Over time exposure to the sun will crack the upholstery. Regularly cleaning the fabric can help, but sun damage is difficult to prevent.

Which choice is best for you? Car upholstery fabric, like many things, is not a one-size-fits all product. Today we covered the basics, but no matter which choice you make you want keep your upholstery in tip-top shape. To protect your investment and make your upholstery last as long as possible, contact us at VIP European Auto. Upholstery is our passion and we’ll deliver the best upholstery care in the Valley.