Furniture 101: Knowing Your Materials

When it comes to buying furniture online, there are a lot of things to take into consideration—the color, the size, the shape, and the materials! With all these things to keep in mind, online furniture shopping can be overwhelming, even more so if you’re unfamiliar with the different types of furniture materials. That’s why iNSPIRE Q has created this guide for you! This Furniture 101 guide is all about the different kinds of furniture materials for hard and soft surfaces and the benefits each one has to offer.

We hope that this post gives all the information you need so you can shop with confidence.


Diving right into the “soft surfaces” of furniture materials, we of course need to talk about upholstery! And the best thing about upholstery is that it comes in a plethora of different options. We’re going to break some of the most common types down that you may come across in your search.


Most upholstered pieces are upholstered in some type of fabric. Fabrics offer that warmth and comfort you need when you’re relaxing—typically on a piece of seating like a sofa or a dining chair. But different fabrics have different benefits, all depending on your unique tastes!

This images showcases one of the furniture materials highlighted in this post. It is an image of the Button Tufted Linen Upholstered Headboard in Dark Grey Linen by iNSPIRE Q Modern.

Linen fabrics are some of the most popular choices—and for good reason! Linens are lightweight and come in nearly every color you can imagine. As a result, linen fabrics can work with almost any design style—formal, casual, modern, farmhouse, bohemian, you name it.

Continuing the discussion about fabrics, this image shows two of the Black and Gold Metal Leg Velvet Accent Chairs by iNSPIRE Q Bold. The velvet upholstery is a beautiful, peacock blue hue.

Velvet is a bold (but popular!) choice. Velvet tends to be a bit heavier than linen, but that gives it the element of lushness to it. There is a sense of plush richness to velvet—no matter the color—that makes it stand out in any setting. Because of this, velvet is a perfect fit for those who love bold, contemporary, and glam themes.

The final fabric we discuss is microfiber. Pictured here is the Mission-Style Oak Finish Wood Ottoman in Rust Microfiber Upholstery by iNSPIRE Q Classic. Perched atop the ottoman is a single book and a glass of iced tea.

Finally, there’s microfiber. Microfiber is lightweight, durable, and fits with most interior design styles. But what makes microfiber a popular choice is that it can mimic the look of leather! It serves as a more affordable alternative for those who love the look of leather, but want the feel of fabric.


But speaking of leathers…there are many different types of leather upholstery options for you to choose from! Like the fabrics we previously mentioned, leather also offers a soft, smooth surface for relaxation. It is a very distinct look, typically is easier to clean than fabric (all you have to do is wipe!), and never goes out of style.

The next of the furniture materials in our discussion is faux leather. Pictured here is the Blue Tuxedo Faux Leather Arm Chair by iNSPIRE Q Bold. It has walnut-finished peg feet, plush button tufted upholstery, and two cylinder accent pillows.

Faux leather is a fantastic choice for those who love the look and feel of leather without the hefty price tag that sometimes comes with it. And since it is synthetic, that means it can come in a myriad of colors and patterns.

Moving on from faux leather is bonded leather. This image displays the Brown Bonded Leather Chesterfield Loveseat by iNSPIRE Q Artisan. In addition to the bonded leather upholstery, this piece also features button tufting and rolled arms to deliver a look of elegance.

Bonded leather is a mix of both real and faux leather. Being a mix of both, it is even harder to tell the difference between bonded leather and real leather. This is another affordable alternative for leather lovers.

As we move into discussing real leather among furniture materials, this image showcases aniline leather. The focus of this image is the White Aniline Sofa by iNSPIRE Q Modern. This unique sofa is founded on chrome-finished bracket feet for some added glam.

And finally, we have “real” leather, which includes Aniline Leather, Italian Leather, and Top Grain Leather. Leather is revered as high end in quality and style. It offers a look that is truly luxurious, warm, and inviting. It can work with plenty of design styles, but the latest trends love to use leather for contemporary and bohemian themes.

Not convinced? See it in action!

Hard Surfaces

There’s a good chance that if you’re not looking for something upholstered when buying furniture online, you might be looking for something with a hard surface! Like upholstery, there are dozens upon dozens of different options. We’ll break down each of the furniture materials and their benefits, no matter what room you’re buying for!


Sometimes with wood, your options might look the same. After all, wood is one of the most versatile furniture materials out there! But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to what kinds of wood are being used.

Now we move onto discussing furniture materials for hard surfaces. We begin with wood, specifically rubberwood. Pictured here is the Antique Black Drop Leaf Round Counter Height Dining Table. It has an oak-finished top with the sides dropped down for a narrower surface. The antique black finish base has two open shelves to store extra kitchen wares.

You can never go wrong with rubberwood—that’s why you’ll likely find it listed in the materials for most pieces of furniture! Rubberwood is lightweight, affordable, and durable. Because of it’s frequent use, there is no doubt that you would be able to find a quality piece that speaks to your unique style.

Another common type of wood used for furniture materials is reclaimed wood. In this image, we have the Reclaimed Woodblock Drum Shape Coffee Table by iNSPIRE Q Artisan.

Alternatively, we have reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood has been growing in popularity and has a very distinct rustic look. Reclaimed wood is typically made from recycled wood, so not only is it environmentally friendly, but also provides one-of-a-kind charm!

The last of the woods covered in this article is rattan. Pictured here is the Walnut Finish Cane Accent Chair with Beige Linen Upholstered Cushions.

One type of wood that never goes out of style is rattan! Rattan is integral to mid-century modern and bohemian interior design styles. It’s eco-friendly, lightweight, and light in color, so it easily blends with existing color schemes.


The next one of the furniture materials we are examining is concrete. This image depicts the Rustic Pine Base Concrete Table Top Dining Table by iNSPIRE Q Artisan.

Concrete has always been a favorite for the kitchen. Typically used for table or countertops, concrete provides the durability any dining space needs. It is much heavier than wood surfaces and doesn’t come in as wide variety of colors. However, it is great for making a statement as it delivers strong industrial, Old-World vibes in any space.


Metal is similar to wood in that many of it looks the same, yet it comes in an abundance of options. It’s easier to clean than wood, however, and has a very clear vibe to it. Metal is often associated with more classic, traditional, and industrial design styles.  

After concrete, we begin to discuss metals. This image focuses on stainless steel, as it features the Stainless Steel Top Rectangle Dining Table by iNSPIRE Q Artisan. The table also boasts a rustic wood finish base, enhancing the industrial, loft-inspired look the table aims to deliver.

Stainless steel stands out among most metal because it most commonly bears a shiny, smooth finish. Because of this finish, this metal complements any bold, contemporary, and glam-inspired settings.  

The other metal most commonly found among furniture materials is iron. Here we have pictured the Iron and Grey Wood Round 5-Piece Dining Set by iNSPIRE Q Modern. This set includes a round dining table with a grey wood table top and iron pedestal base. The four matching chairs have grey wood seats and iron frames.

Iron is a well-liked choice for bases and foundations of furniture pieces. It makes for great furniture materials because it is heavy, durable, and affordable. And while it can come in a variety of finishes, most pieces with iron lend more rugged, masculine aesthetics.

Faux Marble

Moving on from metals, we examine faux marble. This image features the Gold Finish and Black Faux Marble Coffee Table. The table is minimally decorated with a book and a piece of décor, so you can see the beauty of the black faux marble surface.

Just as rattan is true to mid-century modern, faux marble is fundamental to glam, contemporary, and eclectic interior design styles. Most commonly used for table tops, faux marble is easy to clean, lightweight, affordable, and made to stand out. If your style takes inspiration from Hollywood, then faux marble is a must!


What may surprise some people is that one common furniture material is acrylic. Pictured here are the Acrylic Swivel High Back Bar Stools (Set of 2) by iNSPIRE Q Bold. The seats of these stools are made entirely with acrylic while the metal bases are finished in shiny champagne gold.

For the last of the furniture materials, we have acrylic. Acrylic is an interesting choice in interior design and has plenty of benefits. In particular, it is easy to clean and lightweight, so it can be used in a variety of ways throughout your home. The thing about acrylic is that it displays a strong modern and contemporary vibe. It is both statement-making and neutral, so it can work with nearly any color scheme.

Worried about scratches? iNSPIRE Q has got you covered:

No matter how you shop, be sure to do it with iNSPIRE Q. We hope that this guide on some different types of furniture materials has given you greater peace of mind in your search for pieces that speak to you!

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