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Leather Furniture Buying Guide

Genuine leather has a stylish look & luxurious feel, but the choices can be confusing. Use the Sears Leather Furniture Buying Guide to help choose the pieces that work for your home.

 

You truly get what you pay for in regards to leather. High-quality pieces cost more, but their comfort and longevity make them a worthwhile investment. There are ways to save money without sacrificing style. If you’re simply looking for a display piece that won't get much use, consider bonded leather or leather-look as a lower-cost option. Or consider “leather match", in which some of the piece (like the back and sides, where physical contact is minimal) is made of dyed vinyl, and front-facing cushions and seats are made of high-quality leather. Research your options to find the best fit for your taste and budget.

Types of Leather Grains & Finishes

Leather Grains

Genuine leather is highly desired for its fashionable look and durable nature. Cowhide leather is a term specifically applied to leather made from the hides (the skins) of cows, although it is generally used to designate any leather tanned from the hides of animals of the bovine species.

The natural or embossed pattern and texture of a hide's surface is called the grain. There are multiple types of leather grains to choose from, each with their own features and benefits.

Full Grain

Only premium leathers are full grain. The unaltered surface of the hide is aniline dyed (see below) but not buffed or sanded. Full grain leather features natural marks on the hide, such as scratches, fencing, stretch marks and wrinkles, to create an individual and unique appearance.

Top Grain

Made from the outermost upper layer of the hide, it is the only leather recommended to use for high quality sofas. Top grain is the most durable part of a leather hide due to the strength of the fibres. The best top grain leather reflects that an animal has lived in an environment that resulted in limited scratches, insect bites or other damage.

Corrected Grain

The leather has all the imperfections removed and an artificial grain applied.

Semi-corrected Top Grain

The leather is only corrected if there are major imperfections, like deep scratches.

Split Grain

Split grain comes from the bottom part of the hide. The process of tanning leather involves reducing the hide to the thickness required for upholstered products. The back of an animal has a thicker skin, so it is split to create a piece of leather out of this extra thickness. Split grain has a stamped and painted surface in order to have the appearance of top grain leather. This is often use on the sides and back of the furniture to allow a more affordable price point.

Leather Finishes

Aniline Dyed

The process of colouring leathers using non-toxic aniline dyes. The dye is transparent and therefore allows the hide’s natural look to remain visible.

Protected Aniline

The leather has been aniline dyed and then slightly pigmented to ensure colour consistency. It also makes the surface more durable than less-processed leather.

Leather-Match

Leather-match furniture combines top grain leather on visible areas, like seats and cushions, with skillfully matched vinyl on the sides and back of the furniture. Leather-match looks and feels like leather, at a more affordable price.

Bi-cast Leather

This product comes in roll form like fabric. Split leather is used as a backing so a customer can see or feel the leather. A finish is created by applying polyurethane (PU) to provide the colour, texture and strength.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather creates a look and feel similar to genuine leather, but consists of a synthetic material made of polyurethane (PU) with leather shavings are sprayed onto it and then stamped with a grain-like pattern.

Leather Look
  • Polyurethane (PU) is a very effective form of plastic that can be applied to fabric or other products to create beautiful, durable and lower-cost furniture pieces.
  • Vinyl is a product similar to polyurethane but normally not as durable or versatile. It is normally lower in cost than polyurethane so is used for match applications where strength is not an issue. This is often use on the sides and back of the furniture to allow a more affordable price point.