What type of leather is best?

nerdyhousewifeApril 23, 2013

My mother is buying a leather sofa. She has her heart set on one at Ethan Allen, but still has to choose the type of leather.

I used to have a "finished" or "protected" leather sofa (the typical painted kind available everywhere). After a couple of years, the color began to wear off in the heavily used areas. I didn't spend a lot of money on the sofa, so maybe a more expensive brand would have fared better - I don't know.

I currently have a pure aniline sofa. The dogs scratch it up, but we've had it a couple years and in my opinion, it looks better than the old one did with the color worn off. On the other hand, I'm worried that I've just been lucky with aniline and if my mother chooses an aniline leather it'll end up getting lots of stains.

So, at the furniture stores, the sales people are trying to push my mother towards semi-aniline. I haven't had any experience with semi-aniline, but from what I've read it's aniline underneath with a lightly painted topcoat. I worry the topcoat would wear off, but maybe if the color underneath was similar, it wouldn't be so bad.

Does anyone have any input or opinions?

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Upholstery manufacturers all source/buy their leathers from various tanneries; China, Thailand, Brazil, S. Korea, Italy, Germany and I don't believe their are any large scale tanneries left in America. That means when your buying a leather sofa from a given manufacturer it would be best if you knew where they were sourcing the leather and if it is a reputable tannery. But most likely they wont or the retailer has no idea. Their are only a few major chemical suppliers for the leather tanneries to buy from. These chemicals include the dyes and finish coats. They are proven and tested for upholstery use. But their are some Chinese tanneries that make or put together their own chemicals for tanning leather, just to save a few bucks. You should avoid these types of leather at all costs.
Leather upholstery should always come with a warranty of no less than a year on the leather with very few exclusions.
A semi-annaline dyed leather from a reputable tannery offers about the best of both worlds for the most comfort, breathing and durability non-staining and cleaning.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 8:19PM
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rmanbike offers some good ideas as usual but in my opinion I would go with a full aniline dyed wax pull up leather where scratches rub out. I see rmanbikes point on semi-aniline dyed. The problem with these in my opinion is once they scratch they stay scratched and many scratch fairly easily.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 8:50PM
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A semi-aniline leather can have a clear or light color top coat and yes it should match the color of the aniline dye. And it should not wear off.
You can test a sample of the semi-anniline leather by dropping a drop of water, and the water should bead up on the surface.
If you try this same test with a aniline dyed leather or a pull-up leather the drop of water will immediately soak in.
So you can imagine the difference in how they would clean.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Do some tests. Try putting some water, or wiping the options with a wet cloth. Even try adding and removing some stains like food and coffee. Find the one that is easiest to maintain and clean. It will look good the longest.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:47AM
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