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So you found your perfect couch and now is the time to choose your leather. Which one should you go with? Full Grain? Italian? Semi-Aniline? Or something else? 

We will break down all the terms, pros and cons on each of them so that you can be master of leathers in no time.

There are 4 types of leather in total. Full Grain, Top Grain, Genuine and Bonded Leather. Most common in furniture industry are Full Grain and Top Grain. Other two are mostly used in wallets, purses, belt, shoes etc. So lets dive in to each of them in depth. 

1. Full Grain Leather

This is the top layer of the hide, right beneath the hair. Full-grain leather gets its name because it contains the entire grain. This leather is of the most excellent grade. This type of leather looks incredibly authentic because it hasn’t been finished or split. This leather is merely hair-removed; no buffing or sanding is done. You may expect to pay a premium for products that are produced from full-grain leather.

As this leather ages, it acquires a unique patina. To put it another way, the more you use it, the more lovely it becomes. This quality is one of the reasons why full-grain leather is so well-liked. The scent is the most telling feature that sets it apart from other leathers. The aroma is more authentic. Due to the lack of sanding, there will also be some blemishes.

Full-grain leather is the most robust and long-lasting variety. You can’t damage it by trying to pierce it, rip it, peel it, or crack it. Due to its tightly packed fibers, leather is strong, long-lasting, and water-resistant. The leather’s appeal lies in its natural and one-of-a-kind appearance. Additionally, the leather can bear significant stress. The only leather that improves with age in terms of appearance is truly unique. As an upholstery material, full-grain leather is commonly utilized in creating furniture, footwear, and saddlery.

2. Top-Grain Leather

This leather is nearly indistinguishable from full-grain leather. However, this is the second layer of the hide and not the top. A key distinction is that these leathers are buffed or sanded to remove flaws and inconsistencies. As a result, top-grain leather is more supple and comfortable to work with than full-grain leather. Types of leather finishes and dyes are added to the leather when creating items like leather coats.

Top-grain leather is improved by being sanded to look better to the average consumer. Following grain removal, the leather receives an artificial grain in a uniform pattern and a finishing coat to increase breathability and durability. A more organic appearance is achieved in top-grain leather as a result. However, some properties that make it water resistant are lost. Top-grain leather’s flexibility and gentleness are well-known. As a result of this quality, it is perfect for crafting luxury items like wallets, handbags, and other forms of footwear made of leather.

The leather has a homogeneous appearance, is inexpensive, and is soft and pliable. However, it doesn’t hold up well and wears out faster than full-grain leather. Additionally, unlike full-grain leather, it does not soften and mellow with use and time. It’s not quite as thick or heavy as full-grain leather and has a more consistent pattern and a softer feel.

3. Corrected/Genuine Leather

Corrected leather or split leather are other names for genuine leather. Because it is at the end of the chain, this leather is the thickest and most robust of the bunch. The leather is then processed to provide a more consistent finish. Both baffling and sanding are used to smooth out the surface. The final look of the leather is achieved by embossing, stamping, spray painting, or dying.

Despite its lower grade, genuine leather still offers many desirable characteristics that make it a popular material. It’s more affordable, has a uniform design, is softer and more bendable, and costs less to produce. The different types of leather finishes can be dyed or given a new finish to create an infinite variety of shoes, coats, belts, and handbags.

Most items labeled as leather consist of multiple layers of inferior leather. These items are then painted to create a unified aesthetic. However, the breathability of this leather is diminished after processing. It’s not as sturdy as full-grain or top-grain leather and is much thinner.

4. Bonded Leather

One alternative name for bonded leather is reconstituted leather. Hide scraps or off cuts are finely crushed and combined with filler to create the leather. Finally, a fiber sheet is used to stamp the leather with a latex or polyurethane finish. This sort of animal leather is the least expensive option available.

Different manufacturers utilize different percentages of leather when crafting bonded leather. However, bonded leather is prone to cracking and wearing out more quickly than natural leather. Unlike high-quality leather, it is not resistant to moisture.

This leather is perfect for producing inexpensive household items like furniture and accessories and for bookbinding. Determining the exact quantity of natural leather in bonded leather might be difficult unless the manufacturer provides this information. The leather’s distinctive feel makes it easy to identify.

Now that we understand type of leathers, its time to understand Leather Dyed process and there pros/cons. Usually most leather swatches will have tags like Aniline, Semi-Aniline, Pigmented, Italian or top grain leather. So lets dive in to each of them.

1. Aniline Leather

Aniline leather is the most natural and soft leather type, thus the most expensive. It is sourced from the highest quality rawhides usually imported from Europe. Aniline leather is famous for its unique surface that presents characteristics of genuine leather, such as natural pores, healed scars, fat wrinkles, and scratches. 

Aniline hides are usually coated with a light soluble dye to enhance their appearance, which also protects against spillages. This type of leather is susceptible to sunlight and can absorb liquid; thus, it requires special maintenance.

2. Semi-Aniline Leather

Semi-aniline leather is a more durable version of aniline leather. It is coated with a pigmented light surface coating. This extra layer gives the semi-aniline leather its uniform color and durability.

The semi-aniline leather is best suited for applications where there is direct sunlight and heavy traffic. Unlike aniline leather, semi-aniline leather requires less maintenance. For families with children, this leather type could be a better upholstery option compared to aniline leather.

3. Pigmented Leather

This one is known by a bunch of different names depending on who you ask — protected leather, fully protected leather, corrected leather, or pigmented leather. These are simply different ways of explaining the same process.

Usually with pigmented leather, manufacturers start with a lower quality top grain leather instead of full grain leather. That’s because this process involves significant buffing of the leather surface to remove any and all blemishes.

After this, they spray the leather with a coating that colors, seals, and protects the entire surface. This creates a more consistent, even finish that is extremely stain resistant. In other words, when you look at a pigmented or corrected leather, all you’re really seeing is the finish.

Pigmented leather is the most affordable and lowest maintenance of these leathers. It also gives you more colors to choose from. However, the trade-off is that pigmented leather is less supple and less breathable than aniline and semi-aniline. Also, in cases of rips, tears, or punctures, the finish itself makes repair slightly more difficult.

Given the pros and cons of each leather type, which do you think is the right fit for you? Aniline leather in all its luxurious, natural, full-grain beauty? Semi-aniline with its balance and practicality? Or perhaps pigmented leather with its affordability and stain resistance?

4. Italian Leather

Yes you guessed it right. As with most beautiful things in life, Italians just do it better.   Some of the best tanneries in the world are located in Italy. Vegetable tanning, for example, employs vegetable tannins extracted from tree bark, plants, and fruit, to process animal hides, producing a durable, beautiful, and highly prized construction material for clothing and accessories.

The leather that gives Italian leather its reputation, is premium, full grain leather. This is the top of the mountain for leathers.Their dyes are only comes from Vegetables and plant extract which surprisingly make Italian leather softer to the touch and feel.

Decision time?

So which one should you pick? To get a better idea, ask yourself the questions below…

Do you have kids? How about pets? If so, some level of protection is advisable.

Do you want a long-lasting leather that will gain character and improve its look with age? Or is it more important to you to have more color options and stain protection?

How often will your new piece of leather furniture be used? Will it be in a high-traffic area of the home, or in a seldom-used sitting room or formal living room?

Still not sure which one is better for you? Feel free to ask our experts to guide you!

Care and Maintenance of  your new Leather Couch.

  • Keep leather couch away from direct sunlight and heat. Exposure to sunlight and heat can cause the leather to dry out and crack.
  • Clean it regularly with a soft cloth or brush. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the leather.
  • Use a leather conditioner or oil to keep the leather soft and supple. Apply the conditioner or oil in a thin layer and buff with a soft cloth.
  • Try to keep your couch in a cool, dry place. Avoid placing in a damp or humid environment like an unfinished basement, as this can cause mold and mildew to form.
  • Avoid getting leather couch wet from drinks and sauces. If you do get wet, dry it immediately with a soft cloth and allow them to air dry.
  • Treat stains and spills immediately. Use a mild soap and water solution to clean stains and spills, and avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach.

In conclusion, leather are a timeless and stylish investment that can add sophistication and durability to your wardrobe. By taking aforementioned factors into consideration, you can make an informed decision when purchasing leather couch and ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.