Leather is widely used in an array of different products. Book covers, all kinds of bags, purses, clothes, upholstery material, shoes, belts, and even wallpapers are popular products in which leather is used all around the world. The durability and flexibility of leather makes it an excellent alternative to other covering materials. The quality of leather to keep cool in summer and warm during winter makes it the top upholstery material.
Leather being obtained from cows, goats, sheep, pigs, are some obvious sources and some rare sources like ostriches and stingrays; they can have different finishes and appearances. Depending on the kind of usage and wear and tear requirements of the furniture, the type of leather is chosen. Chairs, sofa sets, recliners, stools, bean bag, car seats, and cushions are products that use leather upholstery. However, the following are commonly used kinds of leather products in furniture upholstery.
Aniline dyed leather is known to be the most expensive and of the best quality. The leather retains the natural texture with its unique surface characteristics. The surface being natural in not treated or coated with pigments and polymers. The hide and the color of the aniline leather is the same throughout i.e. in the back and in the front. A very thin layer of coating is added to such leather to prevent it from damages caused due to spillage and soiling. The soft, supple, and comfort of the leather make it the most preferred choice for luxury products. The fact that it retains the details of the hide makes it special and hence also derives the name naked leather because of it. But due to weak soil resistant, it cannot stand high wear and tear.
Semi-aniline dyed leather is aniline hide dyed in pigments however not necessary partially unlike the name. Additional finishes are also applied to semi-aniline leather once the dyeing is over. This gives it the specially required effect for instance an antique finish. Finally, the last layer of coating gives the leather a matte or a glamorous glossy finish. The semi-aniline leather provides some resistance to soiling and staining. It also gives a consistent colour to the product. The only drawback is that in treating hide with pigments and adding of a protective layer does not retain the natural markings and uniqueness of that found in aniline leather. Hence semi-aniline may be less natural in appearance but acquires better wear and tear resistance.
Protected leather also referred to as pigmented leather is widely used as upholstery in furniture and cars. This signifies that it is the most durable kind of leather. Pigmented or protected leather has a protective polymer coating on it which consists of pigments which makes it resistant to scuffing and fading. The thickness of the surface coating decides the durability of the leather.
Top grain leather is usually of two types corrected grain and full grain. Each hide comes with its own markings and natural scarring. The full grain leather is just that without any processing and hence is of the highest quality. While in corrected grain the scarring is reduced by buffing or embossing the leather. No two animals even of the same breed have the same markings, which are usually caused due to cuts, insect bites, neck wrinkles, and stretch marks. Hence every piece of leather is unique and is one of a kind. This makes leather a very attractive product and the full grain kind extremely desirable in the industry.
Nubuck is a kind of aniline leather which are distressed or buffed for creating an open nap. The tight fibre structures in the grain layer make the nap extremely fine. This kind of leather has a soft and velvety finish. Though, Nubuck being the silkiest among all leather is prone to scratches, fading, and staining quite easily.
Suede is one of the most rarely used forms of leather in furniture. It is used in making luxury furniture pieces. The texture of the leather can be identified due to its rough nap finish and by brushing hand over the surface layer of the leather. When brushed in a certain direction, the leather sports a darker color, while brushed in the opposite direction of the former; it shows a lighter shade of the leather.
Antique leather also popular as distressed leather, is treated with dyes in order to obtain the aging appearance. For achieving this effect, the leather is first dyed in light color and next in a darker color. Antique leather is extremely popular currently in all kinds of furniture sets.
Leather is undoubtedly the best choice for furniture upholstery because it lasts up to five times more than fabrics. It can resist stains, wear and tear, and spills. The natural glossiness of the material makes it more desirable. It is easy to maintain leather and with time it only becomes more durable.