Know your leather
When it comes to choosing the right upholstery for the living or family room most families face a very important choice: leather or fabric?
While choosing fabric we suggest that you pay attention to the fiber content and care instructions, choosing the right leather may seem much more difficult for most people. This article will help you understand where the leather comes from and what types of leather are best for upholstery. You will know how to choose the right leather for your room and which questions the salesperson needs to answer before you make the decision.
Leather is a durable and flexible material created by the tanning of rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide.
Leather used in the upholstery can be divides in four forms:
Full-grain leathers have both the upper "top grain" and "split" layers present. The upper “top grain” is the layer closest to the surface, that previously contained epidermis and hair, that were removed. Full-grain refers to hides that have not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed (as opposed to top-grain or corrected leather) to remove imperfections (or natural marks like scars, stretch marks or insect bites) on the surface of the hide. The grain remains allowing the fiber strength and durability. Full grain leathers are very soft and thick. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a patina over time. Highest quality designer leather furniture are made from full-grain leather. Full grain leather is very porous and requires a little more care, it is easier to stain and scratch than other types of leather. Full grain leather is good for furniture that is not used frequently.
Top-grain leather is the second-highest quality and has had the "split" layer separated away, making it thinner and more pliable than full grain. Its surface has been sanded and a finish coat added to the surface which results in a colder, plastic feel with less breathability, and will not develop a natural patina. It is typically less expensive, and has greater resistance to stains than full-grain leather, so long as the finish remains unbroken. This is the leather that we recommend for people with small kids and pets. Top grain leather is easier to clean and still has a very soft hand. Most sofas and sectionals in Ambiente are made of top grain leather.
Corrected-grain leather is any leather that has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. The hides used to create corrected leather do not meet the standards for use in creating vegetable-tanned or aniline leather. The imperfections are corrected or sanded off and an artificial grain impressed into the surface and dressed with stain or dyes. Most corrected-grain leather is used to make pigmented leather as the solid pigment helps hide the corrections or imperfections. Corrected grain leathers can mainly be bought as two finish types: semi-aniline and pigmented. Corrected leather is very durable leather, it is easy to care for and is suitable for people with kids and pets.
Split leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the rawhide has been separated from the hide. During the splitting operation, the top grain and drop split are separated. The drop split can be further split (thickness allowing) into a middle split and a flesh split. In very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain (bycast leather). However split leather is less expensive than top grain leather, we do not recommend sofas made of split leather.
Ask your salesperson where the leather comes from. Leather is produced in different parts of the world and climate plays a very important part in leather thickness and softness. Hides that come from India and South America are usually thinner and have more imperfections (insect bites, etc.) than hides originating from Europe. Colder European climate forces animals grow thicker and softer skin.
When choosing leather product it is very important to understand that leather is a natural material and color variations from hide to hide, grain variations are common and are considered a natural characteristic of leather.
At Ambiente, we offer a wide selection of contemporary and modern leather sofas and sectionals. Our experienced designers will help you choose the right leather for your lifestyle. We offer a lot of eco-friendly vegetable dyed leathers, all of our sofas and leather products exceed the S.Bill #1660 for lower formaldehyde emissions.