Leather – luxury and sophistication… Leather sofas are not only a great investment, they are also very practical, they age well and last for years. When shopping you need to know one important fact – all leather isn’t equal, and some of it isn’t even leather at all! Sadly, what is being sold as leather by some cheaper stores is more plastic than leather, with buyers soon finding their cheap leather sofas peeling and cracking in a way that real leather just doesn’t.
What IS leather?
To get technical – The British Standards Institute has defined leather as Hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible. The hair or wool may, or may not, have been removed. Leather is also made from a hide or skin that has been split into layers or segmented either before or after tanning.
Whether or not an item can be described as genuine leather depends on the amount of surface coating applied to the leather. There are 3 main types of genuine leather –
- Full grain – this is the most durable, the rarest and the most expensive with the full hide of the animal used with very little interference
- Split Leather – this has been taken from the bottom of the hide and is rather fragile, but it is the cheapest.
- Corrected Grain – this is a rather common description and it refers to any of the above leather that has had an artificial grain applied to the surface. Any imperfections are corrected, an artificial grain is embossed into the surface which is then dressed in dyes or stains
Related Article: Home Decor Trends in 2017
Unfortunately, when shopping for leather you may be told the leather sofa is Genuine leather, 100% Leather or cow hide leather, but none of these names tell you what type of leather is being used.
In the UK there are leather certifications, however, in Australia, it’s up to you to do all the hard work when buying your leather sofa. Unfortunately, an all leather sofa may be all leather, but made by using different types of leather which can affect the quality. Remember that genuine leather, when cared for correctly shouldn’t’t peel – a corrected grain or genuine leather sofa should not peel, if it does, it could be because the tanning process was poor, or it simply isn’t leather.
What you should ask when buying as leather sofa
• What type of leather is this sofa made out of? – opt for a full grain or top grain leather, depending on your budget and lifestyle. Be careful when it comes to split leather, bonded leather, faux leather, synthetic leather or pleather.
• Is the same leather used all over the sofa? Some sofa’s use only real leather on the seats and tops of the arm rests, but not on the sides or back, these sections will start to deteriorate faster than other parts of the sofa.
• How long is the warranty period? And What parts of the sofa are covered?
• Can I have that in writing? Once you have asked all your questions, and you have received satisfactory answers – get those answers down in writing on the off-chance there is a problem later on.
Buying a new piece of furniture for your home is a big decision, and it can also be a rather *expensive* decision, you want to get it right, especially when buying a new leather sofa. Genuine leather sofas are built to last, they are quality pieces of furniture that are robust and surprisingly easy to take care of. Probably discourage your pets from laying on your new sofa, as sharp claws will damage your sofa quickly. Alternatively, a towel or blanket where they usually sit will do the trick. Wipe any spills off quickly, and your new sofa will last a lifetime.
Ask questions and do your research, so you know the leather lounge you are buying is genuine, always buy from reputable furniture outlets.