Leather Types Explained
CHARACTERISTICS OF LEATHER
Almost every single piece of leather upholstered furniture, carefully curated for luxury furniture collections carry a unique grain retaining their very own natural charm. All premium suppliers select each hide by eye and source from the very highest quality, ethically raised bullocks. Please keep in mind that marking is a part of the leather’s natural character and why would you have it any other way!
Growth marks, bites, warble fly marks, scars and creases are common on leather and never make it to being used for use on our furniture if the structure is at risk of being structurally inferior. Remember it is precisely these marks that distinguish ‘real’ leather from man-made substitutes.
A TYPES OF LEATHER DYE
1 ANILINE LEATHER
Aniline leather is made without any form of additional protection and is considered the most premium in terms of quality and comfort. Only a small percentage of cowhides are selected to become aniline leather. Due to its untreated nature, there may be natural markings on the piece that adds to its character and unique appearance. Aniline leathers will patinate naturally and their colour will change over time when exposed to light.
- The most natural looking.
- Natural surface is visible.
- Less resistant to staining.
- Coloured with dye and not with a surface coating of polymer and pigment.
2 SEMI-ANILINE LEATHER
Semi Aniline leather is a thinner layer of surface protection where the pores of the hide are still visible, but partially filled with a protective layer of pigment. This type of leather is a middle way between pigmented and aniline leather, offering more durability than aniline leather whilst retaining some of its softer more comfortable characteristics.
- More durable than aniline.
- Still retains a natural appearance.
- Has a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment.
- More consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance.
3 PIGMENTED LEATHER
Also called protected leather, top finished, full grain or top grain leather. This is known for being the most durable and easy to clean surface. The leather is buffed and smoothed, with the pores of the hide completely filled in with pigment coating. This removes all natural marks, and then finished with a protective synthetic texture. Colour can also be applied with this protective layer and it protects the hide underneath.
- The most durable leather.
- Sadly used in the majority of mass produced furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery.
- The durability is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigment.
B TYPES OF LEATHER GRAIN
FULL GRAIN PIGMENTED LEATHER
The natural grain is left intact before applying the light surface coating.
CORRECTED GRAIN PIGMENTED LEATHER
The natural grain is abraded to remove imperfections before a surface coating is applied.
A faux grain pattern is then embossed into the surface.
C ACCEPTABLE MARKS
There may be many causes, but they are mainly the result of the animal brushing against barbed wire or fences. However light scars are not to be confused with badly healed ones, these are automatically rejected during manufacture.
CREASES OR ‘STRETCH MARKS’
Stretch marks, like humans, normally occur in the areas of the skin with more stress (neck, armpits, ribs etc… of the hide). With heavy grained leather, these can look very attractive. Normally this section is placed where it will not detract from the design of the furniture, but enhance it.
D CARING FOR LEATHER
Keep your leather furniture clean and don’t let any abrasive material sit on the leather as over time this will disintegrate the surface. Try dusting it regularly with a soft cloth or wool duster.
Leather furniture should not be placed in direct sunlight or next to a radiator, areas which aggressively change temperature.
- If the surface is noticeably stained, the upholstery should be wiped down at regular intervals with a cloth soaked and wrung out in slightly warm soapy water taking care not to soak the leather. Only soap flakes should be used, never a detergent. Rinse with clean cold water and quickly wipe dry with a dry cloth. If the surface is severely soiled, then it’s better to be safe than sorry – we recommend you consult a specialist leather upholstery cleaner, who can carry out simple refurbishment treatments in the home.