Choosing leather furniture can be a real gamble especially for those of us who think all leather is the same. There are however a lot of differences that will affect the price, durability and beauty of the leather furniture you choose because it all depends on how the leather is graded.
Leather is graded according to the quality of the hide and amount of processing it requires. When purchasing leather furniture, it's important to know the grade of leather to discern whether the price is appropriate and how to care for and clean the piece.
The highest quality leather furniture falls under the full-grain category. Full grain leather is soft and malleable and it will have a stronger leather smell. The hides are dyed with a clear aniline dye so that the natural beauty of the animal can show through. Over time, the full grain leather will continue to age, change and will last you a lifetime.
Top-grain leather is not the highest grading for the hides used to make furniture but it is where good quality leather starts. It is called top-grain because it comes from the top ten percent of the cow hide. Top grain leathers have a grade system assigned to it. The more manipulation or corrections made to the hide the lesser the quality becomes. In short the less a hide is manipulated or corrected the more expensive it becomes and the longer it will last. While many consumers say they want the best leather on their furniture they don't like the uneven colouring that shows through on natural materials. A top coat is put onto the dyed hide to provide a smooth and uniform coloured surface. While top grains feel stiffer to the touch, they are just as durable.
Split hides are heavily treated once the hide has been tanned. The grain is sanded off and the hide is dyed. Split-grain leather comes from the innermost parts of the cow hide, unlike the top grain and full grain that are taken from the sturdy outer layers of the hide. Split grain still provides a sturdy material for furniture makers. Most often, when a product carries the label "genuine leather," it is made from split-leather pieces. Split hides are typically used on sides and backs of furniture to save on cost.
Bonded leather is sometimes recognizable by the patchwork look of the piece. The material is from the undersides and smaller areas of an animal. Excess pieces that aren't big enough to make a seat or cushion are stitched together mixed with other synthetic materials and then dyed. They are the bonded to a fabric backing. Most often, though, the pieces are fused together in a chemical process that makes them look like solid leather. Furniture made from bonded leather is the least durable of all the grades and offers consumers options that can be relatively inexpensive.
At Inspiring Interiors by Bartons we will take the time to show you what to look for when choosing leather furniture. We want to ensure that your choices will give you the lasting beauty you deserve for you home.