Low prices are usually appealing - who doesn't want to save some money?
But what are you paying for?
Investing in a well-built leather sofa or lounge suite means that the product will retain its shape and design for many more movie nights to come. So, what are the commonly used types of leather in furniture production?
Full Grain Leather
This is the most authentic and often most expensive type of furniture leather you can buy. This type of leather is very much untreated. The hair is removed from the hide and then it is soaked in a natural vegetable based dye. It is not polished which means it retains a very genuine texture. Generally, this leather is tough when new, but over time it softens. Due to its purity, this type of leather comes at a premium cost.
Top Grain Leather
Top grain leather gets a little more polishing than full-grain leather, though it is very similar to whole grain in its purity. Top grain leather goes through a buffing process, making it softer than full grain, but with the same durability and longevity. This type of leather is used to create a beautiful finish while retaining the integrity of the leather.
Split Grain Leather
Split grain varieties of leather are cheaper, however, they are harder in texture and more difficult to maintain than the higher quality leathers.
Split grain leather is what is left when the top layer (top grain and full grain is removed. This type of leather is often used to cover the back of lounges to reduce the cost to the consumer.
This leather is created from the scraps of various pieces of leather and then rolled up using the adhesive material. This type of leather is cheaper than Split Grain leather but when treated correctly can give a similar appearance. The end product usually contains just 17% leather but still provides a leather feel and smell. Again, bonded leather will not age as gracefully as the higher quality leathers.
This type of furniture leather is made using the rawhide from cattle.
The leather is then sanded to create a soft, suede appearance. Nubuck leather can be very fragile, can the torn easily and requires waterproofing treatment. If taken care of, this type of leather is fairly durable. However, it proves a beautiful finish and can be used for surfaces that don't get a lot of wear such as bed heads.
Bi-cast leather is split grain with a coating of colour polyurethane that makes it look like top grain leather. Because it is an imitation of top grain leather it is significantly cheaper however it does require maintenance to ensure it does not crack or peel. Again this is a good alternative to furniture that you don't intend to keep for a very long time.
Make sure you know the difference between the different types of leather before you make your purchase, and understand proper maintenance.