Guides > For the Love of Leather

For the Love of Leather


Buying a leather furniture set is an investment so it is important to learn what kind of leather fits your lifestyle best before purchasing. Will it be in a high-traffic area like the family room or the man cave? Or will it be in the formal living room that is only used during the holidays? There are four factors to keep in mind when shopping for leather furniture.

Origin || Which layer of the hide is your furniture derived from -- top grain or split grain? Top Grain comes from the top layer of the hide and is most desirable for its appearance and elasticity. Split Grain is the lower layers of the hide and has a tougher feel with less elasticity.

Alterations || All leather is graded purely based on characteristics; there is no industry standard for grading. Full Grain leathers are not altered and are meant to show the full life that the animal lived. Desirable characteristics include insect bites, healed scars, and wrinkles and can be found anywhere on the piece. Undesirable characteristics are placed on the furniture back and sides. Only 10% of leathers are classified as full grain and are graded at a higher price point. Corrected Grain leathers have numerous undesirable and desirable characteristics and will be buffed and/or embossed to diminish the appearance of the natural characteristics and create a more even hide.

Dyeing || Aniline Dyed hides are tumbled in a vat resulting in a somewhat transparent appearance like stain that is applied to wood. This process is used on the majority of full grain leathers. Pigment Dyed hides are sprayed with a dye that is similar to latex paint, but with more elasticity to accommodate the flexibility of the hide. This process can be prone to peeling and flaking and is better for low traffic areas. Semi-Aniline Dyed hides are vat-dyed first, then sprayed with pigment dye resulting in an opaque appearance, but with proper maintenance will not peel or flake.

Top Coat || The leather’s ability to resist stains and scratches will depend on the type of finish the tannery applies to the hide. Lacquer top coats are typically used on corrected grain hides that have been semi-aniline dyed. It is the highest performing top coat offering the most resilience and is available in either a low luster or high sheen. Hard Wax is known for its “broken in” look as the leather will crinkle over time. Most often used on full grain, aniline dyed hides, this top coat offers good stain resistance when properly maintained, but is prone to scratching in high traffic areas. Wax/Oil Pull-up is only used on full grain, aniline dyed hides. Immediately after dying, hides are immersed in a vat of wax, oil, or both. The substances emulsify resulting in that buttery soft feeling. The hide is then stretched creating a lightening effect known as “pull-up.” This method receives no top coat and will scratch easily and stain when exposed to oil-based substances such as pet and human hair. Low traffic areas are best suited for wax/oil pull-up pieces.


Categories: Guides, Buying Guides
Tagged: leather
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