Furniture Tips and Care
Leather upholstered furniture used to only be for the wealthy.
They were usually large stately pieces that featured extensive
button tufting and the characteristic brass nails at the front of
the arms. Almost all pieces were very dark in color and had shiny
glazed finishes. That is no longer true in the furniture industry
today. Manufacturers of leather furniture have successfully
convinced the general public that leather furniture is attainable
for most people. Leather has become so popular that we would
benefit by being better informed regarding the terms that are
being used and the proper placement and care of contemporary
leather upholstered furniture.
Without exception leather is the most durable and long lasting
fabric covering that has ever been used. Leather lasts 4 to 5
times longer than any other upholstered fabric. It is fire
resistant, does not crack or peel, resists heat and sun, wears
gracefully by becoming more supple with age and it holds its color
fastness. Generally you can not go wrong purchasing fine leather
furniture but it is wise to be informed before you buy.
How leather is processed
The easiest way to understand the process of leather preparation
is to understand the layer separation in which the leather is
split across it’s thickness into a top layer (the hair side) and
the under layer (the cow side). The top layer is called top
grain, since that is the side exposed to the elements. The under
or inside is much stiffer and less durable than the top layer and
sometimes is used to cover the non-wear surfaces such as the sides
and back since they don’t flex well. This is a practical use for
the “coated split leather” as it is called.
The top layer or top grain leather is “graded” into two main
types. The highest quality is “Full Grain Leather” which does not
require buffing or sanding to the surface. It can be used without
correction to the grain. The next “grade” is “Corrected grain
Leather”. By its name you can tell that some correction was
necessary, such as, buffing or sanding the grain to make it more
acceptable to the consumer. Just by way of the explanation you
can see that the Full Grain Leather is the more expensive and most
attractive. Although Full Grain Leather is more desirable, the
attributes that make leather a durable and long a lasting piece of
furniture still hold true even for the less expensive grades of
Next we must talk about Dyeing and Finishing of the leather.
Aniline dye is by far the most common and it refers to any clear
dye that penetrates the leather, giving it color without the use
of pigment. This process is used in all tanned leathers including
nubuck and suede. It should also be noted that semi-aniline and
corrected grains are finished with pigmented dye to add color and
help dress off the buffing and sanding of these leathers.
Placement of Leather Furniture
The placement of your leather furniture is very important to
ensure years of service. Do not place leather furniture too close
to a radiator, fireplace or a direct heat source, even a heater
vent. Maintain at least 2 feet between any heat source and the
Avoid placing your leather furniture in direct sunlight. This
will also dry out your leather and cause it to fade. Although
leather is the most durable covering available anything exposed to
direct sunlight will fade over time.
Whenever possible position your leather furniture away from high
traffic areas that may be susceptible to family members or
visitors who will inadvertently rub against it. This may seem
trivial but leather that is continuously will show marks that may
not be able to be removed by conditioners. The best policy is to
place leather furniture at the far end of the footpath. This way
you can display its beauty more openly and at the same preserve
Care of Leather Furniture
Weekly - Dusting your leather weekly is very important to
keep leather pores free from dust particles. Simply wipe it with
a soft cloth. Don’t under estimate this seemingly small task; it
goes a long way in the long term care of your leather. We will
discuss more thorough cleaning next but remember not to neglect
the weekly maintenance.
Spot Cleaning - As always the quicker you get to a spot or
stain the greater success you will have. Most spills of food and
beverages should be wiped up using a damp cloth with a light
detergent soap, such as liquid hand soap.
All other stains such as ink marks, grease, blood, urine, wax or
gum should be removed using a professional leather cleaner. Just
follow the instructions that come with the product. It is a good
idea to have a good leather cleaner on hand so that you will be
able to address the problem immediately after it happens.
Quarterly - When you first place your new leather furniture
be sure to use a high quality leather conditioner/preservative to
protect it and keep the leather supple. You should fully clean
your leather furniture four times per year using quality leather
cleaner. Pay special attention to wear surfaces, arms, backs and
seats. After a thorough cleaning always re-apply the conditioner/protectant
to ensure many years of trouble free service from your leather
The popularity of leather furniture is a testimony to its value
because of its durability and beauty for many years of service.
We hope that this information will aid you in the selection,
placement and care of your leather furniture.