Choosing your leather furniture
If you are shopping for new leather furniture this information below may help you in choosing.
If you’re looking for the best leather you would want to look out for full grain or top grain which is the strongest and will give you the more durable leather.
It will come in a range of finishes, Aniline is dyed leather, the most comfortable and natural of leather finishes but it will need care as stains will absorb into the leather when the original protective layer wears away. Aniline leather will need more maintenance to keep it in its original condition so may not be suitable for a family with young children. Semi-aniline is more durable but will also need more maintenance and repairs can be more complicated due to its natural look.
The other type of full or top grain is pigmented leather, this is the most durable of leathers, it has a pigmented or painted surface on top of the grain which is sealed to give it a waterproof finish. This leather cleans easily and also if any damage does occur can be repaired with excellent results. A good choice for a family with young children.
Corrected-grain leather is any leather that has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. The hides used to create corrected leather do not meet the standards for use in creating vegetable-tanned or aniline leather. The imperfections are corrected or sanded off, and an artificial grain impressed into the surface and dressed with stain or dyes. This can still be a durable type of leather but since it has been sanded some areas may be thinner and split with heavy use. It’s a very common type of leather and used throughout the furniture industry
Split leather is where the leather hide is split into many layers and the top grain is taken away so you are left with thinner weaker leather. In very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain. This type of leather is not very strong and should be only used on the sides of furniture as it is not suitable for high use areas like the seats
Nubuck and suede leathers have a beautifully soft feel and are becoming rare in the furniture industry because they are very difficult to keep in good condition. Cleaning is slow and can be difficult to remove heavy stains and repairing cuts are very difficult to get a good result. Faux suede is more common and is just polyester, not leather but it cleans easily.
Bicast Leather or PU leather is a split leather backing covered with a layer of polyurethane (hence the term PU leather) that is applied to the surface and then embossed. Because it is only used for the backing, the leather portion of this material is generally not visible in finished goods made from Bicast. The resulting product has an artificially consistent texture that is easier to clean and maintain, as is the case with most plastic materials. But this leather cannot be repaired and may get sticky if the wrong cleaner has been used or if it has never been cleaned and body oils have damaged the polyurethane finish. Technically not a leather but sold in Ireland as leather so caution when buying Bicast leather furniture
Another caution is Vinyl or PVC finishes that look like leather, usually used around the back and sided of furniture. This furniture cannot be sold as leather but some shops call it faux leather, Koskin or leatherette. We do not repair vinyl
ELeather is emerging in to the market and is a mix of leather fibers that are shredded and glued together then made into sheets which are embosses and colored. This is seen in the automotive, aviation and marine industry since it is durable but cannot be repaired in the same ways as full or top grain.