Three Facts About Leather Sofas
By Joe M Parry
Purchasing a new sofa is a big investment for just about anyone; purchasing a leather one makes it even more so. Leather sofas are traditionally some of the most expensive on the market but their beauty and incredibly long life make them a great option if you have the means. If you’re considering a new leather sofa, be cautious in your purchase. Make sure you know what you’re looking for and how much it’s worth.
To help you get started, here are three things you need to know about leather sofas.
There are literally dozens of different kinds of leathers designated by quality and treatment process. For purposes of furniture manufacture we generally speak of five different types. The first is Aniline leather, which takes it’s name from the dye with which it is treated. Unlike coloured dyes used in lower quality leathers, Aniline is a transparent die which soaks into the leather and evens out the natural colour tones of the hide. The dye also makes the leather extremely soft and supple and gives great breathability. Only the highest quality hides can be used for Aniline leather.
Aniline’s little sister is semi-Aniline. This leather is similar to normal Aniline but usually of slightly lower quality. It is bathed in the same transparent die, but then finished with a light protective coat to inhibit staining or future discolouration. Though a slight loss in softness is experience with semi-Aniline, it is insignificant in most cases.
Coated leather is the next type, being designated as such because it is bathed in coloured dye and then finished with a high-gloss polyurethane. The hides used for coated leather can be of lower quality because the dye and poly cover the imperfections. The coating gives the leather that shiny look and deep richness in the colour, and is often what most people think of in terms of a leather sofa.
Standard and faux leather round out our list. They are the most popular choice due to their relatively low cost. Standard leather is the lowest quality, bathed in coloured dye and often embossed with patterns. As the name implies, faux leather is an imitation product made with inexpensive alternative materials that can be treated to look and feel like the real thing.
Unlike synthetic fabrics which require very little ongoing care, leather requires an owner’s long-term attention in order to keep it in good condition. Leather sofas need to be protected from natural staining caused by perspiration and natural skin oil. Of course, liquid spills and inadvertent chemical stains also need to be avoided. Finally, the more expensive and natural leathers need to be kept from drying and cracking. Be sure you know what kind of care will be required of the sofa you choose.
It’s important to understand that not all furniture frames are the same. Make sure the framing on your chosen sofa has been made with quality materials and procedures. Ask what kind of wood is used and how the various parts are held together. It’s no fun to spend a lot of money on a leather sofa only to have the frame start falling apart after just a few years.