Selecting the Best Office Chair Fabric for You

It used to be that all there was to picking a fabric for your office chair was to choose the one that looked best. Yes, you can still choose that way, but to do so may mean sacrificing comfort or wear. Let's examine the typical options, what you can expect, and the pros and cons.

Woven fabric - by and far the most common textile used for office upholstery, woven fabrics vary considerably in appearance, texture and durability. Fabrics with higher abrasion ratings (measured in double rubs or d.r.) will stand more abuse. Fibers used may be manmade or natural.

Many of the better ergonomic chair manufacturers offer choices made of recycled fibers. Fabrics marked "Greenguard Certified" do not emit fumes that can polute indoor air.


Knitted fabric - A knit fabric has 3-way stretch that conforms to the cushions and gives when you sit. This can actually result in a chair that feels softer and we highly recommend it for any chair that has memory foam cushions.

A knit can also breathe better than a woven fabric resulting in a chair less likely to get hot. Knits made for upholstery are durable, easy to clean and wear well.


Vinyl - Vinyls will vary in texture and softness. The main advantage to vinyl is its ease of cleaning thus they are good for healthcare and industrial settings. They can get hot.

Polyprolene fabrics are being manufacturered that offer the pluses of vinyl with improved durability.


Mesh - Mesh chairs have become increasingly popular as it offers a modern look and airflow to keep you cool. Many meshes conform to the body which can offer a personalized fit. Meshes vary considerably in texture. Nylon mesh is very durable but can be abrasive to clothing if used on a seat. Softer, knitted meshes solve that problem.

In general a mesh seat will not distribute body weight as well as an upholstered seat which is why it may not be the best choice for someone who sits for long hours. A mesh back can be very comfortable.


Ultraleather - Today's synthetic leathers feel great and wear very well, often longer than real leather. Ultraleathers are easy to clean and some are anti-microbial making them excellent for healthcare.

Ultraleathers breath well offering a cooler chair than real leather. Good looks make this a great choice for the person who loves leather but wants to save some money. Ultraleather also gives with the cushion offering a softer "sit."


Real leather - Leather is still viewed as a luxury and a leather chair can be very elegant. Leather wears well if cared for properly. Leathers vary considerably in their thickness, as well as the dyes and treatments used thus prices can vary considerably. Leather gives and offers a comfortable "sit."

Just beware of "bonded leather" which is not a true leather and will not wear well. We don't carry bonded leather chairs but cheap "leather" chairs found elsewhere may be. If budget is a concern, consider an Ultraleather or fabric instead.


Check out our great selection of ergonomic chairs.