When it comes to buying a leather sofa or leather furniture, it can often be quite daunting and the average shoppers are often unsure of whether the leather furniture that they are spending their hard-earned money on is in fact good quality, genuine leather. Leatheris not just leather, there are various different types of leather, and each type has its own positives and negatives.
When shopping for a leather sofa or leather furniture, it is ultimately up to you to decide type of leather you will choose. However, we understand that it can be quite overwhelming, so we have created a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about the different types of leather and how to identify them.
Leather is one of the most popular upholstery choices for couchesdue to its durability, look and feel, and its status. Leather furniture can last for years if it is a good quality, genuine leather that is looked after and maintained over the years. In order to ensure that your leather couch will be a long-lasting investment in your home so that you can get the most out of it, you need to ensure that you select a genuine leather sofa that is of high-quality from the start.
What most consumers do not know is that while the leather couch they are buying has a label stating it is genuine leather, there are various different types of genuine leather on the market, and each type has different properties.
Full grain leather is the most exclusive and expensive leather that you can possibly get, as it is obtained from the top layer of the hide, which means that all of the natural grains are clearly visible – hence the name “full grain”. Full grain leather most resembles the properties of natural skin, as it is susceptible to the harsh UV rays of the sun, which can cause it to fade if exposed for long periods of time, and additionally can absorb liquids quickly.
Full grain leather This type of genuine leather maintains its visible markings, which are often referred to as “imperfections”, due to its toughness and durability. Additionally, full grain leather is resistant to splitting and tearing, making it the ideal upholstery option for leather couches and leather lounge suites.
Top grain leather is another great upholstery option for leather sofas and leather corner couches due to its durability. Top grain leather is different to full grain leather in that it has a softer texture, but still maintains its strength and longevity. To put it simply, top grain leather is the natural grain and top layer of the leather hide that has not been cut away. Top grain leather while still extremely good quality, but is not to be confused with being the “top quality” leather, it is simply referring to what layer of the hide it is. Top grain leather is one of the strongest parts of the leather, but due to it being from the top layer of the animals hide it shows the most damage in the form of scars, brands, insect bites and stretch marks that were obtained over the course of the animal’s life.
3 SPLIT GRAIN LEATHER/GENUINE LEATHER
Despite its name, split grain leather still consists of 100% leather, it just lacks the smooth texture that full grain and top grain leather are known for. Split leather, also known as genuine leather, is produced using the skin layers that remain after the top is split off and from the skin. Split leather tends to be tougher in texture due to the fact that it is found on the under part of the top layers of leather, and is mostly used in applications that don’t require the leather to be soft like furniture backs and sides.
4 BONDED LEATHER
If your budget is on the smaller side, bonded leather may be the better leather option for your leather sofa. Bonded leather still offers the same look and texture of other types of leather but for the cheapest price.
Bonded leather is crafted by bonding together various left-over pieces of leather and rolling them up tightly together and using an adhesive material such as polyurethane or latex, to create one piece of leather. However, it is important to note that unlike with full grain leather furniture, bonded leather will never become smooth with age. Due to bonded leather being the lowest (and cheapest) grade of leather it can be the best alternative to full grain or top grain leather if you are still after that leather look but your budget cannot afford it.
With all the different types of leather and false advertising of genuine leather, it can be quite a challenging feat trying to choose the right leather sofa for your home. There are not only different types of leather but also different types of synthetic leather, and if you do not know what to look for it can become confusing and overwhelming.
HOW TO TELL IF A LEATHER SOFA IS CRAFTED FROM GENUINE LEATHER
1 CHECK THE LABEL FIRST
The first thing that you should do when shopping for leather couches or leather recliners is to read what is listed on the label. Many high-end retailers such as ourselves, are proud of the high quality of the leather that we use for our leather sofas and leather recliners, and so it is clearly listed in the product information.
Most leather furniture will outline what type of leather it is, whether that is ‘genuine leather’ or ‘full grain leather.’ If you see vague labels such as ‘man made leather or ‘made with animal products’, there is a high possibility that the leather is not genuine and is a leather alternative. chances are, it’s not genuine leather.
2 FEEL THE TEXTURE
Genuine leather has a very distinct texture due to it being an animal hide. Genuine leather, unless corrected, will have a varying, slightly uneven texture due to the natural markings such as stretch marks, scars and bites. If the surface grain of the leather sofa in question feels extremely silky and smooth, there is a very high possibility that it is not genuine leather and is in fact faux leather.
3 LOOK FOR IMPERFECTIONS
Leather is crafted from natural animal hides, which means that there will be visible marks and inconsistencies in the texture and finish. These minor “imperfections” as some like to call them, give the leather character and pays homage to the life that was lived by the animal the leather was obtained from. The unique natural markings in the form of scratches, wrinkles, insect bites and brandings are clear indication of genuine leather.
4 FEEL THE WARMTH
Genuine leather comes from animal hides, meaning it was designed to protect the animal, as well as keep it warm. This characteristic carries through to your sofa, which is why genuine leather begets a warm, comforting feeling. On the other hand, fake leather will feel cold to the touch and will not maintain its heat over time, leaving the “leather” couch feeling frigid and lifeless.
5 THAT DISTINCT LEATHER SMELL
Real, genuine leather has a very distinct, specific smell even after undergoing various tanning processes. Synthetic leathers on the other hand lack this familiar smell and rather boast a heavy plastic smell that is not at all inviting.
7 CHECK THE COST
Irrespective of how hard you bargain with the salesperson; genuine leather will always carry a high price tag due to the extensive processes that are carried out during the manufacturing process, as well as how much leather is needed to crafted leather furniture. If the leather sofa you are interested in says it is a genuine leather sofa but it carries a price tag that is shockingly low, it is most likely too good to be true and in a matter of months that “genuine leather” sofa will start to peel and tear apart.
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