Walking into a leather store, whether it be furniture or clothing, triggers something in everyone. The smell harkens back to watching movies on the leather couch back home. Recollections of a beloved car sporting leather seats swim to the top. The skin’s memory of a favorite leather jacket may come to mind.
The fact is quality leather is durable and memorable, which also adds to the price tag. This is especially true in leather furniture. For customers looking for design and quality in leather décor, here are ten things to know when shopping.
1. Bonded Leather
This fabric need be only 17% leather, which is a far cry from the real McCoy. Significantly less expensive,it is spare bits of leather meshed up and bonded with polyurethane to make a hybrid product. At first glance, it is comparable, but bonded leather will not warm with your body heat or improve with age.
The aesthetics of design and material are vital in choosing leather furniture pieces, but also ask about the construction of the couch. As an investment, be sure the structure will withstand as much use as the exterior.
3. Bycast Leather
Another hybrid material, bycast leather is sealed with polyurethane to disguise that it is not top-grain leather. Instead, it is thin or flawed layers that don’t meet quality standards. The polyurethane layer will have vinyl characteristics. It does mimic the leather look and easier to clean food and drink spills.
4. Split Leather
The lower layers of hide are called split leather. It is 100% real, but lower-grade and doesn’t have the same desirable traits of top-grain leather.Processed differently, it won’t quite emulate the traditional patina and soft feel.
5. Leather Match
Manufacturers will use this practice to keep costs down by using top-grain leather in the spots that will be touched (like armrest, back, cushions) and then placing non-leather (or some variation of bonded, bycast or split) on the back and side panels.
6. The Sweats
Sticky limbs in the summer can be a leather furniture turn-off. Alas, this occurs with the wanna-be’s. Real leather, as it is 12-14% water, acclimates to body temperature, and “breathes.”
Natural materials will age with time. UV rays of direct sun will impact the color of the leather and in time create a natural patina. If the furniture is leather matched, it will not age evenly, the difference in materials more evident as time goes on.
Too much sun will dry out the hide. Its water composition makes the leather more sensitive to temperature extremes and exposure. Room temperature, avoiding direct sun, and treating the leather twice a year will all extend the life of a leather couch.
Décor, placement, and design will all impact the level of satisfaction with a leather couch purchase. Plan ahead.
10. Ask Questions
Armed with the knowledge of how various products can be marketed and spun to influence your decision, write out a list of questions to ask the sales team.