What to know when buying leather furniture


This article is the first in our series of articles telling you what you need to know when buying leather furniture.

When looking for furniture to buy, whether it is for the living room, dining room, bedroom or office, you would usually go for material that is durable and of high quality. You would also go for a material that matches the overall interior decor of the environment you want to place it in, and typically one that gives a sense of luxury. In this sense, you go for leather as that is pretty much the standard material for making furniture skins.

Leather furniture are everywhere. But what is a good quality leather furniture? How can you know that the leather in front of you have is not one that fades or wears away quickly? In this article, we would show you what you need to know.

Where does leather come from

In order to fully understand what leather means to furniture, we first need to know where it comes from. Leather comes from animal hide. This is the very reason why there are different quality grades of leather. The process of creation starts with removing the skin of the animal to create the hide. At the end of the process you should be left with a white clean surface. After this, the hide is bathed and soaked. It will be full of moisture so it will swell to around 4 millimeters and can be spliced into layers or what is called “grains”.

The  “grain” of the leather refers to the portion of the animal hide which the leather is obtained from. Quality and durability generally is generally highest at the uppermost grain and decrease as we go downwards into the inner sections. This is what gives rise to the terms full grain, top grain, genuine leather, and the rest.

Generally fully grain is considered to be rarer and more expensive, followed by top grain, then genuine leather. Let us go into these classes of leather a bit more.

Full grain leather furniture

Full grain leather comes from the top layer of the hide and is considered to be of the highest quality. It is durable, more flexible, thicker, has the ability to withstand pressue (hot or cold water does not alter it) and it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye with visible natural grains. The high cost of the leather is also attributable to difficulties in obtaining flawless hide (livestock can accumulate scars in their lifetimes), as well the difficulty in craftsmanship.

There are three main attractions of full grain leather. Firstly, it is extremely durable as most of the toughest fibres are in the top layer. Secondly, the natural leather grains are retained. Lastly, when full grain leather ages, it burnishes and beautifies by developing a pleasing patina. Patina are spots of sheen and shine that are a result of the leather absorbing natural elements around it — water, moisture, dirt, sunlight, or even natural body oils. If you want leather that ages nicely, full grain leather is for you.

At leatherworld, we only use full grain leather for all our furniture, thus assuring you of the best quality and long-lasting furniture that would meet your generations expectations.

Top grain leather furniture

Top grain leather is widely considered as the second highest grade of leather. The outermost layer of the hide is removed to obtain top grain leather. This is done when the hide has too much imperfections and blemishes (which happens to a huge bulk of raw hide) and cannot be made into full grain leather. Doing so also reduces the toughness of the leather, making it easier to work with. As such, top grain is available in a larger variety of colours and finishes.

Genuine leather/Split leather furniture

Genuine leather, also known as suede, is a lower quality of leather. It is not a superset to categorise all leather as real, but rather that the leather is of lower quality but is “at least still real leather”. It is also known as split leather, because it is what is left after the top grain leather is extracted from the hide. Made from the deeper layers of hide, genuine/split leather is less durable, and has no natural grains. Hence, this grade of leather is normally embossed with artificial grains to create some texture.

Bonded leather furniture

An even lower grade of leather is bonded leather, which is made by binding together loose leather fibres, sometimes with synthetic materials as well. This material does not have the natural toughness or texture of leather. It is also sometimes passed off as “genuine leather”.

Leather used at Leatherworld

Just in case you missed it earlier, at Leatherworld we only use full grain leather for all our furniture. Sometimes in the industry lower quality leather is used for the less important parts of the furniture such as the bottom of the chairs and tables or the finishings. But at Leatherworld we don’t do that. Every single area of the furniture is designed with the same quality and craftmanship to provide the furniture with a consistent and predictable finish.

About our foam

We also use high resilience foam – at 2.8-3.0lb. per cubic feet. This is the best foam to use for cushion., highly responsive for a quick return action. That is, after a compression it goes back to it’s original state. It also provides an extra bounce and it is highly comfortable.

Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about all these features and the broad range of leather furniture we offer.

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