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Life as a gamer can be hard, can’t it? Constant sore necks, bloodshot eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a sometimes-hilarious inability to get up from your chair. Wait, that’s not true anymore, is it? We thought that everyone was on the gaming chair bandwagon and now has perfect posture and comfortable poses? Maybe not.
All joking aside, gaming chairs have become insanely popular among serious gamers thanks to their comfort levels and ergonomic designs. They are engineered to prevent sore backs and to promote better posture (read my article to know-how).
Gaming chairs even have armrests that are designed to minimize the occurrence of carpal tunnel and arthritis. They are truly modern marvels of our gaming times.
With so many options, however, it can be difficult to decide what type of chair you should buy. Large, small, short, tall – the choices are endless. One such choice is that of the material of the chair. PU Leather and Fabric are two of the most popular, and both are excellent options, but they are not created equally.
That’s not to say one is necessarily better than the other. Depending on the quality of the leather or fabric, one could end up being far better or for worse. But they could also be of similar quality and simply offer different advantages and downfalls.
Like so many other aspects of gaming chair features, the preferred fabric is going to depend on the person who is buying the chair. Some people stand by leather no matter what, and others hate it. Yet again, some people don’t really care what material they are getting as long as the chair gets the job done.
We’re going to examine each material and look at the pros and cons so that we can help you to understand how they may affect the performance of your chair. From there, we’re hoping that you can make an informed decision about the gaming chair that you will ultimately purchase.
After all, these aren’t very cheap products, so you should have a firm grasp on all of their qualities before dropping such a large sum of money.
PU Leather – What is it?
PU Leather is like leather – but not exactly. It is an artificial leather product that is made from split leather. Split leather is the part of the animal hide that is left over after producing real, high-quality leather-like top-grain or full-grain leather. So, it is definitely cheaper and less desirable than authentic leather, but that isn’t to say that it’s bad.
After the split leather is removed, it is covered in polyurethane and then generally applied to the surface of furniture, in this case, a gaming chair. This polyurethane gives it a glossy finish and makes it look vintage but not necessarily authentic.
Think about old diner booths or couches at grandma’s house. Many of those were made out of PU leather with a shiny look.
What Fabric do Fabric Chairs use?
Fabric is a general term and can be used to describe a variety of materials. Usually, though, fabric chairs are made up of some sort of combination of cotton, polyester, linen, and/or mesh.
The woven fabric will be rougher than PU leather but not painful to the touch and should provide some level of breathability.
Pros of PU Leather Gaming Chairs
PU leather is pretty darn affordable, especially when compared with authentic top or full-grain leather. Yes, this is because it isn’t the most desirable part of the animal, but it is still a big factor for gamers who want to save money.
From afar, PU Leather furniture looks nearly identical to regular leather. The differences are really only noticed when you get closer, and most average people won’t be able to tell either way.
Only people who have experience with leather will know that this isn’t top-grain – and how many people do you know that are both hardcore gamers and leather connoisseurs?
Mostly Immune to Spills and Stains
Thanks to the glossy, smooth surface of PU Leather chairs, they are virtually immune to damage from liquid or other substances that may come in contact with them.
Most of the time, you can just wipe the substance right off the chair and get right back to gaming. So, if you spill your sugary soda on your chair, just flick it off the side and sit back down. However, it might help to spray it down with water just so it doesn’t get sticky.
This same quality means that things likely aren’t going to stain the chair either. Even red wine will be easy to wipe off. Or maybe we should say Kool-aid and cheap vodka.
Either way, the most abrasive colors and drinks shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a PU Leather chair because the material doesn’t really absorb anything. In fact, this can be a benefit over better quality leather.
When you spend more money on top-grain, you have to be a lot more careful with how you treat it. PU Leather can take a beating, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.
This isn’t just a factor for liquids. Things like dust and debris will wipe right off of a PU Leather chair. Potato chip crumbs aren’t going to get smashed into the fabric as it has a great defense.
So, solids and liquids alike are pretty much harmless against this, which is perfect for gamers who don’t want to waste time cleaning up after themselves when they have important missions to finish.
Despite being the cheaper type of leather (and technically not real leather), PU Leather is still pretty durable. You can’t just take a knife and start cutting it up, but it should hold up to a person sitting and spilling on it for several years.
It will certainly start to wear and show its age, but it will function just the same and remain as comfortable as it was when you bought it. In fact, it might even get more comfortable as you break it in.
Because PU Leather is synthetic, it can be easily dyed, allowing you to pick from a variety of colors for your chair. There will be no degradation in the quality of the leather because the polyurethane will still be used to coat it.
If you’re willing to pay extra, some companies will even let you add custom designs and will professional artists make them for you.
Cons of PU Leather
We may have just made you excited about PU leather thanks to all of its advantages, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.
Because the PU Leather is pretty much impermeable, it also means that it is virtually unbreathable. PU Leather chairs really don’t breathe at all, which means that neither does your body when you’re sitting on it. This causes the temperature to rise significantly the longer you are gaming, making you far more likely to sweat and become uncomfortable.
The heat gets trapped in with a PU Chair, and with that, so could the sweat. When you look down at your chair after a long session of gaming, you may notice a puddle of sweat. Gross! Not to mention that it won’t air out any of the smell, so we hope that you at least have some good hygiene if you are going to be using a PU Chair. Another option would be to live somewhere like Alaska, where you are less likely to be sweating.
Cheap Look from Close Up
We mentioned that PU Leather looks pretty good – from afar. But the closer you get to the chair, the more you realize that this isn’t some sort of beautiful leather product but rather a cheap knockoff. This is especially true when you sit on it and feel it.
Anybody who has sat on an authentic leather piece of furniture will be able to tell that this isn’t the real deal.
Although we said that the PU Leather chairs are durable, that doesn’t mean they are particularly strong. They have durability when it comes to everyday use.
So, if you are treating it like you should be and using it as a normal chair, it should hold up. However, PU Leather doesn’t really hold up against major accidents or other things that might threaten its integrity. If you have pets, their nails could do some major damage to the chairs with minimal effort.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and drawbacks of PU Leather let’s explore fabric gaming chairs.
Pros of Fabric Gaming Chairs
Like PU Leather, the fabric is generally very affordable. That’s because the materials that are generally used to make it don’t often cost much to the manufacturer.
Oftentimes, the fabric is used to help the company keep prices down because it is so much cheaper than other materials. If you’re light on cash, you can find some great fabric chairs for very reasonable prices.
When compared to PU Leather, the fabric is unbelievably more breathable. This is because it is woven, allowing for small openings throughout the material. Air will go in and out, and sitting in a fabric seat will feel far cooler than sitting in one made of PU Leather – especially if you are in a hot region.
In addition to this, you won’t stick to the chair if you happen to start sweating. Instead, you’ll be able to get right out of it as though you were never sweating at all.
Like PU Leather, fabric has its ups and downs as far as strength is concerned, but it is considered to be pretty durable in general. This, of course, will be reliant on the quality and type of fabric that you get.
The tighter the weave and stronger the fabric, the more likely your chair will last a long time and be able to withstand some beatings. Many companies now even offer premium weaves that are guaranteed to last longer than certain full leather products.
The Look Holds Up
A fabric chair isn’t as much of a fraud, so to speak, as a PU Leather chair is. Whatever it looks like from afar, it will look surprisingly similar as you see it up close.
Fabric isn’t trying to mimic another substance – it simply is just fabric. This means that you can choose a look that will be consistent no matter where you are or how long you have it. Not everyone loves the look of fabric, but for those that do, they know what they are getting.
Cons of Fabric
Stains and Spills are Tough
Because the fabric is more permeable than PU Leather, it doesn’t stand up to stains and spills as well. Liquids will soak in quickly, and ones with bright colors are likely to stain if you don’t get to them right away. Food is much harder to clean off, as it will stick to the fibers of the fabric. Sticky or crummy foods are especially difficult to get rid of on fabric chairs.
Having said that, there are certain fabrics that come with wicking properties or sprays that help to protect against stains. Depending on the type and quality of the weave of the fabric, your chair may do a decent job of keeping food and water out of the inner layers. Still, it won’t be as easy to maintain as one that is made of PU Leather.
Some people don’t like the fabric because it tends to be a little bit rough as opposed to the smoothness of PU Leather. If you game with short sleeves and pants, then your skin might rub up against it, and it could be uncomfortable for you. Again, this depends on the type of fabric that is being used, but there is none that will be as smooth as PU Leather.
Due to the susceptibility to stains and spills, you are going to have to perform more maintenance on a fabric chair. Even environmental factors such as dust and animals will affect the chair more than it would a PU Leather one. On top of that, the maintenance, in general, is more difficult because things don’t just wipe away.
You’ll need multiple sprays, brushes, and rags to get rid of a stain, and you may even find yourself picking out food crumbs by hand.
Should You Choose Fabric or PU Leather?
Like so many other decisions regarding gaming chairs, this comes down to a variety of factors, both environmental and involving personal preference.
We hope that we’ve provided you with enough information about both of these types of chairs that you are able to make a decision that will work best for you. However, we are happy to give some suggestions.
If you are a lazy gamer who doesn’t like to clean up or do any work when you are done with your sessions, then you are going to appreciate the minimal maintenance required for a PU Leather chair.
You can game all day and night, drinking Mountain Dew and snacking on Pringles, and at the end of it all, you will only have to wipe the chair down to get rid of your mess. Heck, even if you forget, it will still be just as easy the next morning.
If, however, you live in a hot region where you sweat all the time, the PU Leather chair is going to cause some issue, and it might even end up developing quite a horrible odor. Fabric will be more comfortable, more breathable, and in this situation, easier to maintain since you won’t be dealing with daily sweat puddles.
On the other hand, cold-dwelling gamers might also prefer fabric because it won’t be uncomfortable on the initial sit. PU Leather tends to get cold if the air around it is cold, while the fabric maintains a more moderate temperature no matter what is going on around it.
If we had to pick one or the other, we would go with fabric for the win. There is nothing wrong with PU Leather, and it has plenty of advantages, but we feel that fabric is more durable, looks better, and gives you a better bang for your buck.
Some fabric can be almost as high in quality as certain real leathers, so you know that you are getting better material than most PU Leather. It will probably last you a long time and will stand up to years of abuse.
If you’re a serious gamer and the choice is between fabric or PU Leather, we are recommending that you go with the fabric. Just be sure to do your research on the chair first.