Leather for long has been one of the most luxurious types of upholstery. Leather is soft, supple and extremely durable. It actually outlasts other upholstery many times over. Leather breathes and keeps cool in summer and warm during winter months. Leather upholstery is made from hides that are subjected to a series of chemical processes which is called tanning. This process softens, beautifies and protects these hides. Before purchasing leather upholstery, it is important to understand the features and benefits of different grades of leather:
Top-grain leather is the top layer of the hide. The top portion of the hide is approximately 1.0 – 1.5mm thick and is the most premium grade of leather. Top grain leather comes in two types, full grain and corrected grain. Full grain leather is left in its natural state, nothing has been done to alter the grain. Corrected grain leather refers to leather that has been surface-altered to reduce scarring, or embossed to develop a special effect. Most corrected grain leathers are preferred by customers that desire to have furniture that may be washed with a damp cloth after spills. This leather has some protection on the surface, whereas, full grain does not.
Split leather comes from the lower layer of the hide. It is then processed into suede, split or coated split leather. Coated split leather is stiffer and less durable than top grain and is often used to cover the portions of a sofa or chair that will not be seen and does not need to be as flexible as the top.
Leather is a natural product, it is not plastic, or vinyl, so expect to have color variations, the feel of the leather may be different in one portion vs. another area. Differences in feel and color are not manufacturing defects.
This is the nature of 100% leather, these signatures of nature are the reason for the popularity of leather. Just as your skin is softer in some areas than others, so is cowhide.
Although leather is a very tough product, it is not a product that requires no attention. If placed in the direct sunlight, it will fade, just as fine fabrics will fade. Avoid placing your leather near sources of excessive heat, it will dry out the hides and cause cracking. Avoid the use of sharp objects on or near your leather furniture. Avoid the use of chemical polishes or soaps.