If you’re thinking about buying leather furniture, there are certain things you should know. Of course, eventually you’ll want to know how to care for your valuable furniture. However, before you even bring a piece of leather furniture into your home, you should appreciate that all furniture leather is not the same. Here’s about the different types of leather used to make furniture.
Only the least expensive furniture will be made primarily using split grain leather. However, high-quality pieces will use this lower-grade source for sides and backing. This helps the manufacturer conserve costs and present a fully leathered piece.
Split grain leather is still authentic leather. This cut is the part that is split away from the higher-quality top grain layer. It isn’t quite as durable as higher-grade leather, but it is perfect for parts of a piece of furniture that do not need to be as durable.
Tanning helps create split grain leather that is visually identical to top grain. Using the entire hide takes full advantage of every portion of leather cut. If a piece of furniture is made partly using split grain leather, it does not reduce the value or appeal of the piece.
Using split grain leather on portions of furniture that do not need to be as durable is a way to conserve leather and reduce costs. If you choose a piece of furniture that includes some split grain leather, you will not be purchasing a lesser quality product, but one that may have a reduced price.
The next grade of leather is termed corrected grain. It is slightly higher quality than split grain, but still not nearly as valuable as full grain leather. Corrected grain leather might be termed processed leather because it undergoes a lot of processing.
This second class of leather requires a great deal of buffing and sanding. There is a stage where the leather is stamped and then dyed. While it eventually presents the luxurious appearance of full grain leather, it isn’t as durable.
Much of the process to create corrected grain leathers involves hiding imperfections. Extra buffing and tanning help hide flaws in the leather like scrapes or cuts, but the process slightly reduces the durability and fine sheen of the final product.
More expensive pieces of leather furniture often forego using split grain leather for certain parts of the piece, in lieu of corrected leather. There are excellent pieces of furniture that use corrected grain for all or most of the final piece. These pieces often have a lower price tag.
You may have seen the term Nubuck leather and wondered what it is. It actually isn’t an actual type of leather, but the procedure used in processing. Instead of harsh sanding and dyes to remove flaws, Nubuck leather is brushed and polished.
This process takes more time, therefore many furniture pieces that use Nubuck leather cost slightly more to purchase. Nubuck leather can appear to be like suede leather. It has a velvety texture like suede and will change in appearance when you rub your hand across the surface.
Even the underside of Nubuck leather is buffed, which helps give it an extra soft, nappy feel. Nubuck leather is the second highest grade of leather. It is not processed, and some categorize it with aniline leather, the highest grade of leather used for furniture.
The top classification of leather used for furniture and other leather products is aniline. Aniline leather pieces of furniture fall into the top 5-percent category for luxury leather. It is often called full grain, or naked aniline leather. Furniture made with aniline leather has the softest feel and the most luxurious shine.
Manufacturers select only the purest leather and then use aniline dyes to correct any limited flaws. There is a category of leather used that is called semi-aniline, and it composes around 10-percent of the highest-quality pieces of leather furniture. The most expensive pieces of leather furniture will use aniline for the complete piece.
You may also find certain aspects of the furniture made with a lower-grade leather to help control cost. Aniline leather is by far the most durable leather for furniture. You can expect to pay a little more for the luxury of owning a piece of furniture made with aniline leather.
Many pieces of fine leather furniture combine these different types of leather into one piece. When lower-grade leather is used for certain aspects of a piece, it doesn’t necessarily make it less valuable.
Understanding that all leather is not equal will help ensure you get the best value for your money when shopping for leather furniture. This knowledge will also prove valuable when cleaning and maintaining your valuable leather products.