Choosing the right material for your office chair

If you are struggling with the hundreds of options out there, we've put together a helpful guide on what to look out for when selecting fabric or textile for your office chair.

When it comes to selecting the perfect office chair, the sheer variety of choices can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to choosing the chair's covering fabric or material. The options range from thick wools to plastic finishes, each catering to the diverse preferences and requirements of different workspace settings.


To help you navigate this extensive selection, we've created a concise guide that covers key considerations and what to keep in mind as you explore the diverse range of options.



For many people, this is the most important part of the decision-making process, and often where it stops. How well your chair fits into your overall interior plan is important, especially if you are buying a piece for your home. The type of material you choose can also affect how it looks, especially if you buy something that doesn't age well.

Colour inspiration-RH Logic

The RH Logic chair is among our top-selling models, and to assist our customers in discovering the perfect fabric colour, we've curated a colour inspiration book comprising four unique palettes showcasing a diverse array of hues. Above, you'll find our 'colourful' selection - click here to delve into the complete inspiration guide.

Thankfully, many manufacturers offer a wide range of materials and fabrics. This means you can find a material that not only matches the colours you want but is also tough enough to meet your needs.


Let's now explore some of the more popular materials and talk about why they might be a good choice.


Types of Material



Fabric is a very popular choice for office chairs, available in a variety of qualities, colours and textures to suit a range of tastes and budgets. Compared to leather and vinyl, fabrics mostly feel more comfortable in use and contain a variety of additional qualities depending on material. The two most popular materials are:


Wool – The perfect choice for colder spaces as they regulate temperate, and are especially rugged.


Polyester – Often preferred in warmer environments, and potentially less expensive than wools.


Whilst suitable for daily use, you should always vacuum regularly to maintain cleanliness and can be tricky if a liquid is spilled on it.



Mesh chairs are super comfy and let air flow through, which is great in warm places. However, some people prefer regular fabric chairs, especially if they get cold easily, and there is often a smaller range of colour choices available, as they are specially manufactured for each chair model.



Leather chairs often give a fancy vibe and feel luxurious. But they can be quite expensive. They get a natural patina over time which only adds to it's beauty, but they need protection from direct sunlight to keep their softness and avoid getting brittle. Leather also needs regular care to stay looking nice in the long run.



Plastic chairs without any upholstery are tough and budget-friendly. While they might not feel as cozy as padded seats, modern plastic chairs are designed to be more comfortable, and some also have smaller built-in cushions. Without  upholstery they're super easy to clean, resistant to spills, and lightweight.


Although plastic isn't the most environmentally friendly material, some brands, including Flokk, now make chairs from recycled plastic that's just as strong as non-recycled plastic.


Read more - Inspiring ways to style your home office

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Fabrics: Fabrics are easily the most versatile option when it comes to colour and comfort, but can be difficult to clean.

Featured: HÅG Capisco in Melange Nap 521 ⁣by Kvadrat


Mesh: Unlike solid backed chairs, mesh chairs promote better airflow, helping you to keep cool and comfortable.

Featured: Giroflex 40 in RUNNER 66063


Leather: Often seen as a premium choice, they are more stain resistant but require care for longevity

Featured: RH Mereo 300 in Paloma Soft ATG55185 leather


Plastics: Chairs made from plastic are often budget friendly, with modern designs surprisingly comfortable.

Featured: HÅG Capisco Puls made from recycled snow plough markers


More and more people care about sustainability when they shop, even for chairs. When you want environmentally friendly materials, there are labels or certificates to look for, like the EU Ecolabel, Oeko-tex®, or Möbelfakta. Plastic chairs can be made from recycled or recyclable materials, and they usually have labels saying so. At Flokk, we've been working on sustainable solutions for almost 30 years. We offer many sustainable options, with 14 out of our 18 standard upholstery choices having eco-label certifications.


Read more - How to choose environmentally friendly furniture


Additional things to consider

When buying a chair, you'll come across a lot of extra information that can help you pick the right one. Here's a brief overview of some of the most common things you'll encounter.


The Martindale Scale

The Martindale scale measures how tough a fabric is by quantifying how well it can withstand rubbing. A higher number means the fabric is more durable. Different countries have their own rules for fabric use. For instance, in Germany, they recommend at least 10,000 for home use, 25,000 for office use with soft padding, and 15,000 for office use with hard padding. At Flokk, we look for tough fabrics. Most of our fabrics have at least 100,000 on the Martindale scale, and some are even stronger. This means they last a really long time.



Before buying a chair, make sure it's made from materials that have been tested and certified for fire safety. Look for at least BS EN 1021: 1–2 (Cigarette & match) as a minimum requirement.


Light fastness

This is about how well the material can resist fading when exposed to light. It's measured on an 8-level scale, with 1 being very low and 8 being exceptional. Ideally, aim for a rating higher than 5. If your chair will be in a lot of sunlight, look for materials with a light fastness rating of 6 or higher.



Pilling happens when the fabric surface becomes uneven due to broken fibers. This makes your chair less comfortable and doesn't look good. Pilling is also measured on a scale, usually from 1 to 5. A rating of 1 means severe pilling, while 5 means no change is detected. If pilling is important to you, check how a fabric's pilling is rated.


Download our Fabrics & Colour guide to easily compare and contrast our textile collection technical specifications



Select by Gabriel is a classic woolen upholstery and registers at 200,000 on the martindale scale, with a pilling score of 4 and between 5-8 on lightfastness, making it a very reliable fabric.

Certificates include EU Ecolabel, OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100, Möbelfakta & EN 1021: 1–2 

Featured: RH Axia 2.4 in Select (68209) by Gabriel Fabrics


Cura is a two-coloured fabric made from 98% post-consumer recycled polyester. As well as being environmentally friendly, it scores 100,000 martindale, 4-5 pilling and 5-8 on light fastness.

Certificates include EU Ecolabel, OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100, Möbelfakta & EN 1021: 1–2 

Featured: HÅG Tion in Cura 68261 by Gabriel Fabrics

The bottom line

The many options for office chair materials show that people have different needs when it comes to seating. The right choice for you depends on where it will be used and what you need as an individual.


Armed with the above information, you should be able to narrow down your choices and ensure that the chair you choose not only looks good but performs well in the environment it will be used in.


Click here to explore our selection of office seating online

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