So now that you know why you are buying seat covers – the next step is to determine what material or fabric to choose for them. This is important and really depends: what do you actually use your vehicle for? Keep functionality in mind to get what you need and want in your vehicle. While it’s not possible to cover every car fabric out there, this guide will touch on the most popular materials you’ll find online.
The Big Four – Versatility, Protection, Comfort, and Personalization :
So what’s out there in terms of material? This post is meant to help you conduct your online search with more knowledge and a better understanding of the main types of automotive fabrics (rather than specific car fabrics). That way, you can make the decision all on your own. The best way to think about it is that each fabric offers a different mix of Protection, Comfort, and Customization.
1) Versatility – Neoprene type materials. NeoSupreme vs Neoprene? Take Your Pick
Similar to wet-suit fabric, this kind of material offers a great balance of comfort and protection (and nice looks to boot). It fits perfectly around your seat’s shape, resists fading in the sun, and is a perfect all-around choice for most drivers. Do you wonder about the difference between real Neoprene and automotive grade Neo-Supreme? Make note of the level of water resistance you want. NeoSupreme is almost like the real thing, minus the waterproof lining – as CoverKing explains on their website. So if you are hopping into your car from the beach, you may want to throw a towel down. The cost of NeoSupreme is often a lot lower than Neoprene, yet the fabric is formulated specifically for automotive use – unlike your wetsuit, which might crack in the sun over time. It’s the way to go when you’re fine with something that is water resistant, but not 100% waterproof. That is what CoverKing is saying anyways. Other websites sell only NeoSupreme with a quality guarantee, like Shear Comfort, stating it’s “highly water-resistant”. Highly customizable, “neo” based materials come in a number of grayscale and bright colors, as well as two-tone choices to offset any interior nicely.
2) Protection – What’s the Difference between Cordura and Ballistic Canvas? Do You Really Need this Level of Protection?
These canvas-like fabrics are similar, but Cordura/Dura-Plus seems to win a few points over Ballistic Canvas in terms of fit, quality, and installation (if you read the reviews for both on AutoAnything) – while losing out on price. Both are great for the extra tough use category, though. Sometimes you just need that extra protection over comfort. A common need is to protect your work site truck or SUV’s seats from mud and abrasion. Maybe your car or truck carries sporting equipment or gear often. Not to mention your large dog hops in the back now and then. When your seats do take a serious beating, Cordura & Ballistic are suitable choices. They’re resist punctures to avoid needing serious auto upholstery repair, are waterproof, and easy to wipe down. The downside is that these types of fabrics don’t fit as nicely and aren’t as comfortable as others – so do yourself a favor and look elsewhere if you don’t 100% need this kind of toughness (maybe you just drive your family sedan to work and around town?). Customization is still possible. A few different colors are available to hide dirt or dog hair and contrast your interior or blend in with it. Or you can even go for a make-your-own combination of colors. If you are looking for tough canvas like materials, Shear Comfort sells Cordura, AutoAnything has Dura Plus Cordura and Ballistic Canvas (a car fabric that’s made by Cover King and also sold on their own site + elsewhere online).
3) Luxury for Long Drives, Sore Backs, and Insulation
Let us not forget the important of pure comfort. Probably one of the most comfortable, not to mention luxurious, seat cover fabrics out there is Sheepskin. There are different grades of sheepskin out there. There is a BIG difference when buying Real Merino Sheepskin and Imitation Sheepskin. Not only will it look different, it feels different (the imitation stuff can shed easily on your clothes), and 100% sheepskin is more high wearing, with its nice leather hide that also acts as an insulator. Superlambauto is just one of the many places that sells both ready-made and tailor-made Sheepskin seat covers. Like Shear Comfort, they sell the real New Zealand Merino Sheepskin. You get quite a few choices in color too, which is nice if you are trying to match the interior.
Now, it is hard to top the comfort of Sheepskin, but there is another solid contender when it comes to luxury. Imitation leather seat covers are right up there too. Places that sell “Leatherette” and “ICBINL” are the usual suspects: Coverking, Caltrend, Shear Comfort. Something that it has on Sheepskin though is that it is actually a water-proof material, so it can be categorized as a highly protective seat cover as well. FYI: like leather, it can take on weather. So if it’s hot out, they may get too warm on the bum. Contrarily, if its cold out, they may be cold when you first hop into the car. Not an issue if you have heated seats, which these materials are designed to work with. It’ll just take a minute longer to warm up than your original upholstery.
Both Sheepskin and Leatherette are higher priced luxury seat covers. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, Velour is velvety to the touch at a lower cost. Also there are well-ventilated Mesh seat covers out there that will give you extra comfort during hot summer seasons.
4) Customization with Real Tree Camo’s Neo and Cordura versions
Realtree Camo, is a fabric that’s not for everyone. But those that like it really love it. It’s just such a personalized look. Yet again, there seems to be more than one version of the fabric. Shear Comfort offers Real Tree Camo in many different patterns – AP, AP Green, Pink, and Snow. Unlike Coverking’s Real Tree Camo, it is not a Neoprene or NeoSupreme based fabric – but actually a lot more like Cordura canvas. Neoprene and Cordura, as you now know, are two car fabrics with very different levels of comfort and protection. So when you are browsing, make sure you choose correctly between Cordura and Neoprene based Real Tree prints before you choose exactly which woodland look you want your seats to have. We’ll talk more on really personalizing your interior with made-to-order seat covers in our next post …