Buy to keep: leather upholstery tips

July 29, 2015

Good-quality leather pieces pieces need to be protected from abuse, kids, and pets, and if they are, they can last a lifetime.

Buy to keep: leather upholstery tips

Why should you buy leather upholstery?

If you are looking for durable furniture upholstery covering, you just can't beat leather. It can last four or five times as long as any fabric, and if you take care of it, it gets more supple and comfortable with age. Thought leather was all about looks? Not so.

Type of leather

  • Most leather upholstery is made with top-grain leather, so-called because it comes from the outer surface of the hide.
  • The leather is usually coated with polyurethane or other coating to protect it from absorbing stains.
  • Top-grain leather comes in two grades. "Full-grain leather" is considered the most attractive and requires no buffing or sanding before coating.
  • Of course, full grain is the most expensive.
  • The other grade is called "corrected-grain leather." This is leather that has been buffed or sanded to remove unsightly scratches.
  • It is just as durable as full-grain leather.One more type of leather you should know about is called split grain. Hides are thick enough to split into several layers.
  • Tanning the inner layers results in a stiffer, less durable leather than top grain.
  • Split-grain leather is sometimes used for the backs and bottoms of leather furniture — surfaces that won't be seen and get little wear.

Dyeing and coating

  • Leather that is sold as "aniline" or "full aniline" has been dyed with aniline but not coated.
  • This can be a little confusing because coated leather can be dyed with aniline before it is coated.
  • Uncoated leathers are very soft and luxurious but not resistant to dirt and stains. Often uncoated leathers are buffed to create a very fine nap.
  • Leathers sold as nubuck or suede have been treated this way.
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