Tips for buying quality leather furniture include understanding the terms manufacturers use to describe it, choosing the appropriate finish for your lifestyle and considering the longer life of leather. Leather prices are lower than in the past, making quality leather furniture affordable to more consumers as of 2015.
When shopping for leather, consumers encounter terms such as top grain, split grain, aniline, semianiline and nubuck. These terms describe the quality of the leather covering the furniture and affect the price and quality of the furniture.
Top grain leather comes from the outer surface of the leather and is more desirable. Split grain comes from the inner surface and is weaker but more affordable.
Aniline describes the technique of processing the hides by soaking them in dye. Full aniline leathers have the smallest amount of dye, so manufacturers reserve the process for the best hides that have few marks or blemishes. The process results in the softest leather. Semianiline hides are stiffer but the dye the manufacturer uses gives them better protection from fading. Pigmented leathers are the least expensive and their stiffer texture provides greater protection against scuffing.
While leather remains more expensive than fabric upholstery, a leather sofa lasts three times as long as a fabric one. Consider the cost and the longevity when comparing prices. Avoid pieces that mix leather and vinyl. The life of the vinyl is much shorter than leather and greatly reduces the useful lifespan of a piece.