Leather prices have tumbled, making this practical material an option for more and more people. If you are considering leather upholstery for your home, you may have some questions about how leather compares to fabric. This guide will help you figure out what you want in your leather sofa and make an informed purchase.
Characteristics of Leather
If leather furniture is well cared for it can last for 15-20 years instead of the 4-5 years many other furniture coverings average. Leather is strong yet soft, improving in feel and appearance as use brings out its natural patina. One misconception about leather is that it isnâ€™t appropriate in homes with pets or children. Not so! Leather doesn't tear, burn, or puncture easily, and is simple to keep clean. Since leather has a far denser fiber make-up than woven fabric, the likelihood of your pet puncturing it is remote.
You can expect to find a wide array of styles and colors. No matter the styling, the leather should be soft, supple and comfortable to sit on. Leather is porous, allowing air to circulate and assume the surrounding temperature; therefore it doesn't get cold and moist in the winter or hot and sticky in the summer.
When making a leather furniture choice, you should be familiar with the terminology used to distinguish leather upholstery. Top grain
leather is the highest quality â€“ leather with the outermost layers of the hide left intact. Leather match
refers to furniture upholstered with a combination of leather and vinyl, often on motion furniture and recliners to prevent sagging around moving parts. The vinyl is died to match the leather and is typically used on the sides and back. Leather is reserved for the cushions or "everywhere the body touches," reducing the overall cost of the piece. Bonded leather
makes up a large part of the market. Leather fibers are combined with other materials, such as polyurethane, and textiles. The leather content of the final material may range from 20% to 90%.
has had a translucent dye applied to it in a vat. The translucent quality allows the grain to show through, but it can also show imperfections, therefore only the best quality hides are used for this process.
(also called protected aniline) leather is also dyed in a vat and has a small amount of coating applied, giving it slightly better protection against stains and fading than aniline leather.
For pigmented leather
, color is applied to the surface, not dyed through. And while the color isn't as rich, this process hides imperfections and adds durability.
If you follow a few basic guidelines, leather products are easy to keep looking wonderful. First, leather should not be placed in direct sunlight. Leather can fade and could possibly stiffen from heat exposure. Also, because of leatherâ€™s tendency to absorb other dyes, avoid placing printed materials on leather as the ink can transfer and leave a stain.
Use a clean dry cloth to dust every week or two to prevent buildup of regular household soil. If any soil does accumulate, use a damp, soft white cloth to wipe the surface clean. However, do not use any moisture on unprotected finishes, suede, or Nubuck. The final step in caring for your leather furniture is to clean every 5-6 months with a mild leather cleaner. After cleaning, apply a protective leather cream to keep it soft and supple.
With these facts and tips, you should be able to enjoy a lifetime investment in comfortable, beautiful leather furniture.
||A translucent dye applied to leather in vats. The translucent quality allows the grain to show through, but it can also show imperfections, therefore only the best quality hides are used for this process. May also be referred to as true aniline, naked aniline, pure aniline, naked leather, unprotected leather, or natural leather.
||Split leather with a polyurethane coating that gives it a high sheen and increases durability.
||Leather fibers combined with other materials, such as polyurethane, and textiles. The leather content of the final material may range from 20% to 90%.
|Corrected grain leather
||Leather that has been buffed and coated with pigments or other finishes to hide imperfections. Also known as protected leather.
|Full grain leather
||Leather that has not been altered beyond hair removal.
||Furniture upholstered with a combination of leather and vinyl. The vinyl is died to match the leather and is typically used on the sides and back. Leather is reserved for the cushions or "everywhere the body touches."
||Full grain leather that is treated with oil or wax so that it develops an aged patina over time. More common on traditional styles, it is also know as oiled or waxed leather.
||Leather with coloration applied to the top surface, as opposed to dyed. This process hides imperfections and adds durability.
||Aniline dyed leather with a layer of matching pigment added to improve color consistency and add protection.
||The lower layers of a hide that are removed to create a uniform thickness on a top grain hide. These lower layers are also processed and treated with a protective sealant for use in upholstery.
||Leather with the outermost layers of the hide left in tact. Generally considered high quality.
||The process of making leather using tannins obtained from bark, wood, or other plants and trees.