There are many things to consider when choosing the upholstery for your worship chairs. In general, chairs are upholstered in six common materials: Fabric, vinyl, polyurethane, polyolefin, leather, and silicone.

Of these options, we offer four types of upholstery for Bertolini chairs.

  • Fabric
  • Vinyl
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyolefin

Leather is not offered as an upholstery option for Bertolini church chairs because it’s difficult to produce and very costly. A single leather chair could cost $500 or more, so an entire sanctuary filled with 2,000 chairs would be beyond the budget of most churches. For similar reasons, we don’t upholster in silicone. Silicon costs approximately 10–15 times more than other types of upholstery, and while it’s a popular choice for cushions on a luxury yacht, it isn’t practical for church chairs.

We’ll break down the benefits of fabric, vinyl, polyurethane, and polyolefin below. Read on to learn which type of upholstery is the most popular for churches and why.

Contract Fabric



Polyolefin Fabric


Nylon & polyester blends

Vinyl with a polyester backing

Engineered coated fabric blend 

Oil-based plastic blend


  • Resists tears & punctures
  • Potential moisture damage

  • Can puncture
  • Resists moisture damage

  • Can puncture
  • Resists moisture damage 

  • Resists all damage
  • UV-resistant 


  • High comfort
  • Breathable
  • Soft to the touch

  • Low-Medium comfort
  • Less breathable
  • Can stick to legs

  • Medium-High comfort
  • Soft to the touch

  • Medium comfort
  • Can be scratchy


Wide variety of patterns, textures, & colors

Wide variety of colors, faux leather options

Wide variety of colors, faux leather options

Wide variety of colors, with few pattern options






Performance Finish


Built in

Built in

Typically not needed

Cleaning & Care

Can stain without performance finish, water-based cleaners only

Easy to clean without damage, resists stains, chemical resistant

Easy to clean, resists stains, only certain cleaners

Easy to clean, resists stains

Fabric Upholstery

Fabric Samples in a drawer

The commercial fabric used in church chair upholstery is generally made from cotton, polyester, wool, nylon, polyolefin (or olefin), or a combination of these. The type of fabric will determine durability, look, feel, and cost.

These high-quality fabrics resist tears and punctures. In addition, if the fabric is treated with a performance enhancer, such as Nanotex®, InCase®, Crypton®, iClean™, or Alta™, it will resist stains and clean easily.

Note: Scotchgard™, Teflon™ Shield, and Teflon™ Shield Pro+ are not performance treatments. These formulas are sprayed onto a material after it has been manufactured, unlike the performance treatments listed above. During performance treatments, the yarn is encapsulated during the process while the material is immersed in a liquid bath.

Vinyl Upholstery

Rolls of vinyl fabric

There are several benefits to choosing vinyl, such as the fact that vinyl is easy to clean and it resists common stains. High-quality vinyl is also easy to disinfect with a solution of bleach and water, without causing damage to the upholstery. However, dye transfer from jeans and bright clothing can occur, so it’s best to still use a protective coating.

Vinyl upholstery accepts many finishes better than polyurethane, which will help protect the furniture from absorbing harmful microbes and bacteria. One of the best things about vinyl is that it comes standard with an antimicrobial topcoat.

On the other hand, church chairs upholstered in vinyl can be more easily punctured by things such as pens and pencils. Low-quality vinyl can even tear when punctured. Additionally, vinyl can be uncomfortable to sit on in warm environments because it doesn’t breathe like fabric. Vinyl can stick to arms and legs.


Polyurethane Fabric Image

Polyurethane is produced using high-grade resins making it stain-resistant, and easy to clean. It generally feels soft and remains cool to the touch to provide an excellent seating experience over long periods of time. In addition, it has a pleasant sheen and upholsters well.

Like vinyl, polyurethane can become stained through dye transfer from jeans and other fabric. Adding a protective coating can prevent this.

Also, like vinyl, some polyurethane can be more easily punctured than fabric. It doesn’t clean as easily as vinyl and doesn’t perform as well to frequent exposure to moisture.


Polyolefin fabric swatch closeup

When it comes to worship chair upholstery, we’ve saved the best for last! Polyolefin is the most popular upholstery choice for churches. Why?

Rather than being constructed using fabric, polyolefin is made using melted plastic pellets or olefin. This makes it exceptionally durable. It is also stain resistant without having to add a performance finish.

Church chairs covered with polyolefin fabric are also affordable, easy to clean, and it upholsters well. However, it can be scratchy and less comfortable to sit on, and coarse to the touch.

Finding the Ideal Upholstery

Choosing the right upholstery for your church depends on your top needs and priorities. Do you need upholstery that’s affordable, durable, easy-to-clean, or one that’s available with the most customization options? Once you know what the most important feature for your church is, you can find the right upholstery for your congregation.

Visit our fabric center to see the many options we offer.

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