Furniture Advice – Choose Leather that fits Your Lifestyle
We have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best home furnishings retailers in the country as Creative Colors International has grown into the nation’s leading repair and restoration franchise over the last 35+ years. And usually, the most significant difference between your average home furnishings retailer and a great one is their ability to educate customers on the kinds of furniture that fits their lifestyle – from an affordability and personality perspective.
Leather furniture presents one of the most difficult challenges to home furnishings retailers who are committed to educating their customers. First of all, there are many types of leather – Full-Aniline, Semi-Aniline, Corrected and Pigmented Grain, and Faux (or “Bonded”) Leather. These types of leather vary greatly in terms of strength, composition, and durability. And far too often, home furnishings retailers struggle to convey to customers the fact that just because a material is labeled “leather” does not necessarily mean it is top quality leather product.
Our first piece of advice to customers? Read the label and know what kind of leather fits your expectations from a cost and composition perspective. Here’s a breakdown of these different types of leather to help customers better understand what they’re buying.
- Full Aniline is the softest leather and the most expensive leather because it is made from the very best selection of hides. However, since full aniline has no top coats it is very porous and if a drop of water gets on the sofa, it will leave a dark mark. Full aniline should only be used in areas where there is little or no activity.
- Semi-Aniline has a thin finish in the top layer giving you the feel and softness of full aniline with a little bit of protection. Semi-Aniline should be used where there is little or moderate activity.
- Pigmented leather is used in 80% of furniture. This type of leather has a high resistance to wear, soil and light. Pigmented leather should be used where there is high activity.
- Faux Leather is also known as bycast leather or bonded leather. This leather is created from remaining leather scraps from the cutting and splitting of leather. The scraps are shredded into dust, mixed with an adhesive, and finally pressed into sheets. The sheets are then coated with a laminate, which creates the surface appearance of leather. This pressed wood equivalent of leather lacks the durability of top grain leather and tends to tear as easily as thick paper. This is usually the cheapest product you can buy, but also the worst for durability and longevity. Bonded leather is normally produced in darker colors and when stretched, it lightens. It also scratches and tears easily. Faux leather furniture owners typically have to replace their furniture far earlier than they anticipated.
Bottom line – regardless of your preference on price and durability, make sure to look for the designation “Genuine Top Grain Leather” when you are buying leather furniture. This ensures you are purchasing the strongest and longest lasting available.
And now, a couple of recommendations for leather furniture buyers who have kids or pets at the house…
Toddlers: Go with pigmented leather material if you have children. The material is easy to wipe up for spills. If you decide to go with fabric, make sure to go with a dark color. Regardless of the type of material, keep throws on sofas to help prevent damage.
Pets: Pigmented leather material works best with dogs, but stay away from bonded leather because this material will puncture and tear easily from a dog or cat’s nails. Similar to furniture buyers with toddlers, be sure to keep a throw on the sofa to prevent damage.