Leather furniture has been gaining in popularity for decades. Today's leather can be ordered in any color, style, texture or finish to accommodate any decorating style or decor. In the following you will discover why leather has been an upholstery favorite for centuries!
Natural and Unique
No two pieces of leather will ever be exactly alike. Each animal has its own characteristics and identifying marks such as scars or wrinkles which make each hide one-of-a-kind. These unique features enhance the beauty and quality each piece of leather.
Dyes and Colors
Leather goes through a process called tanning which turns the hide a grayish blue color. After the tanning process, the leather is exposed to dyes which give the hide an even appearance and accentuates the natural wrinkles in the leather giving it the traditional appearance we all recognize. Leather can be dyed in almost any color imaginable to suit any color scheme or design style.
Leather features a tinsel strength of between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds per square inch! This strength permits furniture manufacturers to pull and stretch leather very tightly without fear of tearing or ripping it. Leather's tight weave of fibers helps to repel dirt, moisture, hair and other damaging fibers. Leather has amazing capabilities to stretch and move while still maintaining its shape without sagging.
Leather outlasts all other fabrics having a life of about 15-20 years of normal use compared to 4-5 years for most other fabrics. Leather's rugged durability is demonstrated in the saddles, boots and chaps of the Old West! Products that are subject to rough treatment or that are meant to last are typically made of leather.
Easy To Care For
The tightly woven fibers in leather resist liquids and oils, are fire-resistant, non-toxic and rarely crack due to processing. In caring for your leather, it is best to wipe up spills immediately, dry with a towel and then allow to air dry. Never use blow dryers or heaters on your leather. To remove stains and dirt you should use a mild solution of gentle soap and warm water to treat the area. Should you get oil or butter on your leather, wipe it off with a dry cloth and then leave it to dry - do not use water to wash oil or butter off of your leather.
Another great quality of leather is that it can be easily repaired if it should be scratched or scuffed. Touch up colors or felt-tip pens are typically sufficient for this purpose. Always test your color on a small, hidden section before applying it to a noticeable area to ensure an accurate match.
Leather keeps its comfort due to its ability to breathe. The fibers in leather allow air to circulate through it and therefore, doesn't retain heat or odors. Leather quickly assumes the temperature of your body ensuring that it is never too hot or too cold. Year after year your leather furniture will be fresh and comfortable!
Full vs. Top
Hides are split into two surfaces. The outer surface is top grain and the inner portion is the split. Full grain is a crucial distinction of top grain meaning that the hide has no color or coating added that would hinder the natural markings of the dyed hide. Lower quality top-grain hides are often buffed, sanded or embossed to create a more appealing leather grain.
Full Grain Aniline - After tanning, the highest quality top grain leathers are aniline dyed without coloring and are then considered complete. Full Grain leather possesses minimal scarring and very few imperfections while maintaining the natural coloring and strength of the original hide. Full Grain Aniline leather is the most sought after type of leather for its natural beauty and incredible softness. This is the most expensive type of leather because of the rarity of high quality hides. Over time, it becomes even softer and suppler and gains a beautiful patina, however, it is more likely to scratch and fade.
Full Grain Semi-Aniline - Full Grain Semi-Aniline leathers are created when the full grain hide is dyed with a base color and then top sprayed with a semi-transparent pigment and a clear protective coating. This type of leather retains the softness and natural look of the original hide with a more even color and many more color options.
Full Grain Semi-Aniline Antiqued - Full Grain Semi-Aniline Antiqued leathers are characterized by the mottled, uneven appearance created by the top sprayed color pigments. This type of leather lends a rich, aged appeal to a piece of upholstery. The more expensive Full Grain Semi-Aniline Antiqued leathers feature hand-rubbed surface colors which bring out the imperfections of the hide such as barbed wire scratches and blemishes that make the piece unique.
Protected Aniline - This type of top grain leather has unsightly imperfections that leave it unsuitable for use as full grain leather. It is dyed for color, top sprayed to the desired hue with a smooth, even, opaque pigment which is then given a clear protective top coat. This leather maintains some of the softness of more expensive leathers but has a more even appearance due to the sprayed on pigment which makes it more resistant to wearing, staining, moisture and fading.
Top Grain Distressed - Top Grain Distressed leathers are created from hides that are unsuitable for use as full grain leathers. It is aniline dyed and then top sprayed with various pigments which give it the color, imperfections and aged appearance of more expensive leathers.
Corrected Grain - Corrected Grain leathers are also created from top grain hides that are unsuitable for use as full grain leathers. These hides are sanded and buffed to clear imperfections and then embossed with a natural-looking grain pattern. Once this process is complete, the hide is treated with protective coatings and additional color. This leather loses some of the softness of the natural hide but remains resistant to staining, fading and moisture.
Nubuck - This type of leather is created when top grain aniline dyed leather is buffed or sanded. It is characterized by a soft, velvety texture and is more susceptible to stains and fading.
Split Grain Semi-Aniline - This is the most affordable type of leather and is created from the inner portion of the hide after after the outer layer of top grain is split. Once the leather has gone through the dying, sanding and embossing processes it is sprayed with pigment and coated with a durable, protective finish and becomes Split Grain Semi-Aniline leather. Typically used on promotional priced upholstery, Split Grain Semi-Aniline leathers do not have the durability, comfort or strength of top grain leathers.
Suede - This type of leather is created when the inner portion of the hide is buffed or sanded to open the nap. Suede is very soft to the touch but since it is made from the inside of the hide, it is less durable or easy to maintain as top grain leathers.