When it comes to buying furniture for your living room, there’s nothing better than a leather sofa. They look great, feel fantastic and smell even better. Best of all, they last a long time, the animal hide is incredibly durable and holds up well to whatever you throw at it, it’s perfect for households with kids and pets. There are many different leather sofa options out there in a variety of different qualities and styles. When looking to buy a new couch it’s important to balance cost, décor and quality.
Types of material
So what are the different types of leather sofa out there? There are three basic types which reference the different type of hide used.
Top grain refers to the outer layer of the hide, the ‘hairy’ part. Sometimes if the top hide is marked or damaged then it treated and scoured and a look-alike grin is pressed into the surface to make a ‘corrected’ grain.
Full-top grains also come from the top layer of the hide but it is free of defects and the grain is genuine not faux or imitated.
Split grain comes from the second or third layer of the hide and is stretchier and less stable, it’s not suitable for furniture so you won’t see it on your couch.
To create furniture with hide there’s usually a three-part process involved where the leather is first pigmented and then the surface is sprayed with a colour and then a clear coating and protectant is added – this is what helps to make it so durable and low maintenance.
For some leather sofa options aniline or semi-aniline dyes are added, they’re transparent pigment which gives the couch a soft feel. For more premium furniture full aniline dyes are used, they soften the couch and show of the natural grain.
Construction of the couch
So what goes on underneath the hide on the couch? Usually, a solid hardwood frame and coil springs are used. Engineered timber is also sometimes used.
If you’re looking for a good quality couch then avoid webbing suspension as this can sag over time. Before purchasing a leather sofa make sure you ask the salesperson about the construction of the couch. Sometimes they will also have cushions attached to the frame, some people prefer this but keep in mind it can make cleaning, repairs or restuffing more difficult.
Price won’t always indicate if a leather sofa is genuine but a larger price is usually a good indication of the difference between real and faux materials. Other design and construction details can also factor into the price.
Maintaining your couch
Leather can usually be maintained with a weekly wipe down with a damp cloth, spills should be wiped up immediately. Most couches will also need a fabric conditioner applied every six months or so. Every leather sofa is different, however, so you should check maintenance requirements with the manufacturer.
How long do they last?
A high-quality couch could last ten years or more, many people keep them for several decades. Worn in fabric looks fantastic. Any leather sofa will long outlast fabric couches and other materials.
What about faux materials?
Faux or imitation materials are considerably less expensive and typically last for much less time than the real thing. They also don’t usually develop the same work in look. Usually, faux materials will have a consistent pattern, smooth texture and can sometimes come with a rubbery smell.
Think about the climate where you live before committing to a new couch. Whilst hides can be great in cooler or more temperate climates, they can be sticky in hot or humid environments – no one wants to stick to the couch!