Leather furniture evokes feelings of luxury, comfort, and style. It’s plushness and character means quality, durability, and long-lasting wear. As such, there is a prestige attached to real leather furniture. However, did you know there are a number of different types of leather used? And that not all of these are considered top quality?
Understanding the different types of material advertised as leather before you select your furniture means you get the right one for your budget and comfort needs.
Usually the most expensive leather, full grain uses the whole hide and is almost untreated from the hide of the animal. Unpolished and keeping the hide’s individual nature, this is the sought-after grain that will retain its excellent look and feel over the years.
Because it is taken from the outermost layers of the hide, it is usually the toughest part of the hide and will, therefore, be long-lasting. Like full grain, top grain is considered one of the finest — and most durable — of leathers.
Simply top grain that has been buffed to remove scarring or other markings. While it has the same properties as top grain, the buffing process may remove some of the hide’s natural soft quality.
This is top grain leather that has been dyed throughout the hide. It retains the soft texture typical of quality leather, yet does not remove the individual marks and blemishes that give the furniture its distinctive character.
Made by the bonding of leather with leather scraps and fibres and then formed into a material using adhesives, bonded leather is a cheaper, yet durable version of full grain leather.
This consists of the lower layers of the hide after the top layer has been removed. As such, it still retains the characteristics of leather, though it is harder and can be easily damaged. It is considered to be less hard wearing than top grain and has a cheaper price tag.
An interesting variant of top grain, nubuck has the additional property of being buffed to give it a surface feel similar to velvet. Nubuck furniture is generally cheaper that top grain and it requires special attention to keep it looking its finest.
A cheaper option than top grain, bi-cast consists of gluing a polyurethane sheet to split grain. The result is a leather that looks like top grain, but has less of its long-lasting qualities. An excellent alternative for the budget-conscious.
As the name suggests, this is not real leather. It is crafted from plastic and rubber to form a fabric that mimics the touch and look of leather. While often an adequate alternative, faux leather will lack the character, feel and durability of real leather.