Is the leather Top Grain?
- Yes, only top-grain leather is used on our furniture, on the entire piece of furniture. Top grain is the natural top surface of the hide which provides the most beauty and durability. Top grain has the densest cell structure, creating the leather’s tensile strength. Top-grain can also be called corrected grain or full-grain. We provide your choice of corrected grain or full-grain for your selection.
- What is NOT used on our furniture is: Bonded leather, Matched leather, Married leather, Eco/Recycled/Performance/Faux leather, Bi-cast leather, Vinyl, and Split leather (which is the slice taken from the back of the Top-Grain). These are never used on our furniture as these are not suitable for use with high quality made leather furniture because they can crack, split, peel and change colors in a short amount of time.
- Be sure to learn of the 3 mistakes to avoid when buying the best leather sofa.
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- Click here for additional details about natural leather characteristics
Is the furniture covered entirely in top-grain leather?
- Yes, all of our furniture is covered entirely with top grain leather.
- In a way to reduce cost thereby quality, some other manufacturers provide their furniture with leather match or leather plus, which are leather plus vinyl/split/bonded/bi-cast combinations. They use the non-top grain leather in the areas where the body does not touch, such as on the sides and back of the furniture. We do not offer leather match or leather plus as these are not suitable for quality made furniture because they do not age the same as top-grain as they can change colors, split and peel.
Does this furniture use married leather?
- No, none of our furniture uses married leather.
- Married leather is the term for sewing a leather pattern together without upholstering it onto the frame at the same time. This is typically a method to reduce cost which reduces quality. Some companies will sew the leather pattern, typically in China, and then sell it to the manufacturer (sometimes in the USA) who then upholsters it onto the furniture frame (and they call this made in America). The sewn pattern is married to the frame, hence the term married leather. Similiar to adding a seat cover to a damaged car seat, it never really looks or feels right.
Is the leather full grain or corrected grain?
- We offer top-grain only. Top-grain leather comes in both full grain and corrected grain as they each have their benefits.
- Full grain leather means that the natural grain of the leather has not been altered. Full grain leather includes all natural markings that are part of the cowhide. These natural markings can include range marks such as brands, healed scars from barb wire fences and run ins with other animals, insect bites, etc. Also, the grain within each cowhide will vary as the skin has a different texture on the back, sides, belly and neck. Full grain leathers offer the natural beauty of the cowhide. Full aniline leathers and many semi-aniline leathers are also full grain leathers.
- Corrected grain leather is the most prominent type of leather in today’s marketplace and perfect for the active family with children and pets. There are distinct differences that separate corrected grains from full anilines and many semi-anilines. Full anilines and many semi-anilines are also full grain, meaning that no alterations have been made to the grain or surface of the leather. Corrected grain leather, as their name implies, have been altered. These hides are slightly grain corrected, rather the grain has been lightly sanded or buffed off and then lightly embossed with a grain giving the surface a more uniform grain throughout, and minus any natural range marks found on full grain leathers. They are then aniline dyed and color pigments are applied for color uniformity, followed by a finishing protective top coat that resists scratches, stains and fading from sunlight. Some semi-aniline leathers can include correct grain finishes.
How is the leather surface protected?
- Some leathers do not have any protection added during the tanning process. These are called natural leathers, or full aniline leathers, or pure aniline leathers. This leather is prized and desired by the leather connoisseur as it is the finest of leathers with natural animal range markings and natural grain variety. This leather gets its name from the aniline dyes that are used to produce it. Hides are soaked or tumbled with aniline dyes in large rotating stainless steel drums. The translucent dyes permeate the leather giving it color without covering up any natural markings or grain pattern. The process is much like applying stain to a wooden surface, you see the grain. Hides dyed in this manor vary in intensity of color due to the amount of dye that is absorbed by each hide. Even within each hide the color may vary in intensity due to the differences in the hide itself such as the different textures of the tight back, fat soft belly and neck. In the final milling process, the dyed hides are tumbled in large rotating drums to soften the hand or feel of the leather. Heat may also be added during the milling process to enhance the grain. The result of this tanning process is exceptionally soft leather in its most natural state. Color pigments or protective top coats are never added to full aniline leather. Due to the lack of these additional protective steps, the aging characteristics of full anilines are different than other types of leathers. They can collect scratches and absorb moisture, oils and other spills that over time will produce a rich patina, much like a well-worn bomber jacket. Sunlight will readily fade full aniline leather, therefore exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided. Due to the natural characteristics of these leathers, furniture manufacturers cannot assume responsibility for their long term wearing qualities, please see the manufacturers Natural/Full/Pure Aniline Leather Warranty Policy.
- Some leathers have protection applied during the tanning process. These are called semi-aniline leather, or aniline plus leather, or protected leather. This leather is typically chosen by people who have an active home with kids, grandkids, pets or if the furniture will get sunlight. These leathers have additional protection provided by the tannery to resist stains, scratches and fading from sunlight. The amount of protection can vary from one leather pattern to another. No additional 3rd party or after market protection or conditioning is required as the leathers are tanned with this protection. The tanning process of semi-aniline/aniline plus/protected leathers and natural/full/pure aniline leathers begins in the same way with aniline dying and milling. Although semi-anilines/aniline plus/protected leathers however, have the addition of color pigments lightly applied to the surface providing a more uniform coloration throughout the cowhide and provides a greater degree of protection from fading due to sunlight. This is then followed by a clear finish, both providing protection to resist scratches, stains and fading from sunlight. Therefore, these leathers are called semi-aniline or aniline plus or protected leathers. Manufacturers do provide warranty coverage on these leathers.
What is the quality of the leather?
- All of our leather furniture is covered in select top-grain leather. This is the best quality of leather offered by the tanneries.
- Each leather hide is carefully inspected upon its arrival from the tannery to ensure accurate size and perfection.
- Furniture leather patterns are carefully cut to precise measurements to ensure a beautiful fit when upholstered onto the furniture.
- Special and durable thread is used when hand stitching the pattern by skilled experts.
- All quality details that go into making premium quality furniture are utilized by leather furniture artisans at Leathercraft, Classic Leather and Comfort Design no matter how small of a detail it is. An example of one quality detail is that skive is always incorporated on cushion welting. This makes the feel of the welt to be consistently smooth. This picture depicts welts without skive and with skive being utilized.
Click here for additional details about natural leather characteristics
Why are there different grades or costs of leather?
There are many factors that influence cost
- The tannery can spend more time on some leathers and they charge for that extra time. There are many things that tanneries can do to leather that affect the appearance, texture and feel of the leather. When they spend more time they charge for their time.
- In a world of manmade materials, real leather is a natural product like gemstones, exotic woods or any other natural material. Hides vary in beauty and integrity. All manner of influences can affect their look and texture – genetics, living environment and handling of the hide. Over its life, every hide acquires a personality. The inevitable accumulation of wrinkles and stretch marks, run-ins with barbed wire, healed scars, encounters with insects, thorns and branding irons leave “beauty” marks. All of these events combine to give each genuine hide a distinctive character and are not considered imperfections or flaws. The fewer markings on the hide, the rarer it is to acquire. Therefore, there is less supply and a higher cost.
- The cooler climates of Northern Europe, in conjunction with the animals being raised in pens or pastures, produce hides with the least amount of markings. These are considered premium hides therefore cost more to acquire.
- The hotter climate, with the greatest extremes, in conjunction with the animals being raised on an open range, produce hides that are more weathered and contain scars and insect bites that must be lightly sanded or buffed off before color can be applied.
- There is a greater quantity of cattle produced on the open ranges of the world, creating a greater supply. Therefore, these hides are less costly.
- South America, Australian and North African hides contain the greatest number of imperfections and are the least costly.
- The cost of leather is determined by the origin of the animal and by supply and demand; not by where the hides are tanned, i.e.: the majority of tanneries use South American hides.
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