The Lowdown on Leather: What to Know When You Shop

Some things just get better with age. A great pair of jeans, fine wine and leather. We love leather. Superbly sumptuous, supple leather. Four times more durable than fabric, leather is the solution to stylish and comfortable furniture that actually improves with time. And until October 11th, we’re making the best of the best accessible to you with our Leather Seating event. For most, leather is an investment, which is why we’re here to help. Here’s the lowdown on the kinds of leather that are out there along with a few things to keep in mind when shopping. For more, come into any of our stores and one of our design consultants will help you navigate our vast portfolio to find the best option for your lifestyle.

  1.  Full grain leather is taken from the outermost section of the hide and is the most sought-after leather for its durability, strength, and character.
  2.  Though often mistaken for being synonymous with full grain, top grain leather does not actually reflect the “top” (outermost section) grain of the hide it was taken. The top couple millimeters are sanded and buffed to take away imperfections then imprinted with imitation grain. This gives the leather a more uniform look, but is not as durable and strong as a full grain, whose genuine grain remains.
  3.  While there are many durable fabrics out there, such as cotton and wool, leather will outlast. It doesn’t tear, ages well, and retains its shape after stretching.
  4.  Aniline Leather: This is the softest, most natural looking leather and generally most expensive. It is dyed in a drum, which allows the dye to fully soak through and the character as well as grain structure to be seen, since the surface has not been covered in a topcoat. Through time, aniline leather develops a unique patina. Anilines are not recommended for areas where spills and stains are a common occurrence.
  5.  Semi-Aniline Leather: Also known as protected aniline, semi-aniline is a superior-quality hide, also dyed in a drum but has a small amount of top-coating to provide more protection against stains and fading as well as a more even coloration than found in pure aniline leather.
  6.  The notion that leather is cold is a misconception. In fact, leather takes on the temperature of your body within 12 seconds.
  7.  An easy way to verify the quality of leather is to look at the back of a sofa. Large cuts of soft and thick full grain leather represent a quality product. On the contrary, a patchwork composed of small thin scraps of leather which are synthetic to the touch, is a tell-tale sign of a very cheap product.
  8.  Nubuk leather is a soft, beautiful leather that displays a brushed, suede-like appearance but is far more durable and enduring than suede. Nubuck is created through a process whereby a top-grain or full-grain aniline leather is sanded or buffed on the outside to give a slight nap of short protein fibers, producing a velvet-like surface. Though it is resistant to wear, it requires a little more maintenance.
  9.  Under normal usage, periodically dusting or wiping with a clean, dry and non-abrasive cloth along with vacuuming in the crevices or bottoms is all that is necessary to clean leather furniture.
  10.  When shopping for a leather sofa, it is important to keep in mind how you will be using it and what room it will go in. Before anything, it has to suit your lifestyle. Many of our luxurious Italian leathers can be covered with a light topcoat to protect the surface from stains and the marks of time without altering its beauty. Talk to our knowledgeable design consultants who will help you find the best option for your lifestyle.

What’re you waiting for? Stop by a store near you today to shop the Leather Seating Event! Not in the area? Browse online here or call us toll free at 877.881.9191 to chat with a design consultant who will help you navigate our vast selection of top quality leather seating to find the best option for your lifestyle.