What’s behind the cost and comfort differences in leather furniture?
Leather grades are an indicator of production cost – not of quality. An expensive leather could well stain more easily or wear less well than an inexpensive grade. Or not. You have to go a bit deeper than price to understand leather. And since you’ll be sitting on and living with leather furniture for years… it’s worth making the effort.
- Hide Type.
- BEST – No equivocation here. Top Full Grain and Top Grain are the best. The difference? Top Grain is slightly corrected (sanded), losing just a bit of the natural grain and breath-ability. This may be desirable to achieve the even coloring or protection needed for certain applications.
- GOOD – Genuine Leather or split leather is clearly a distant third best. It is the hide that is left after the top grain is removed. Any grain is artificially applied. All other things being equal — get top full grain. Of course, all other things hardly ever are equal.
- FAKE – “Bonded Leather” should be considered an artificial product similar to vinyl and not included in this comparison. It may be fine for some choices. It just isn’t leather.
- Finish Type. This is an aesthetic and lifestyle choice. And it comes down to this: more finish or less finish. This presents you a real trade-off. More finish means more protection but also a harder “hand” and less natural look. Neither is best for every situation! You must choose what seems best for you, the particular piece and your lifestyle.
- PROTECTED FINISHES will be uniform in color & texture. They will be the most durable and least likely to fade. Care is easy making them a great choice for families.
- NATURAL FINISHES will be quite supple and have a natural appearance. They are full-aniline dyed. Natural finishes show lots of character. Each hide is unique and surface marks testify to the leather’s authenticity. Every hide accepts the dye differently.
- WAXED FINISHES have a rugged look and a soft waxed sheen. There are noticeable color variations and natural markings are very apparent. Waxed finishes often show an antique appearance and will age gracefully.
- SPECIALTY FINISHES are unique creations often done for high a fashion statement. They are exotic in appearance and often have patterned or designed surfaces. Definitely one-of-a-kind leathers.
Here is a table showing the price differences you might expect on a sofa at various leather grades. These are all good choices IF…
A) You see clearly what you are buying and
B) You are fairly charged for the difference.
|Price Grade||“Sample” Retail||Finish Category||Hide Type||Dye|
|G||$3849||Waxed||Full Top Grain English Bull Hide||Pure Aniline|
|F||$3599||Natural||Full Top Grain Cowhide||Aniline|
|E||$3399||Natural||Full Grain Cowhide||Pure Aniline|
|D||$3199||Protected / Crypton||Top Grain Domestic|
|C||$2749||Protected||Corrected Top Grain Bovine||Pigmented|
|B||$2699||Protected||Corrected Top Grain Cowhide||Pigmented|