Understanding Leather Jargon: Full Grain, Top Grain And Bonded Leather Sofas

Avellino 100% Full Grain Aniline Italian Leather Sofa

When it’s time to pick out a leather sofa, understanding the “leather speak” of furniture manufacturers can be confusing. Shopping and making a firm decision is a lot easier when you fully understand the types of materials there are to choose from. Buying a sofa is a big decision, especially if you are planning to buy the best-quality product you can get for your money. Online, furniture stores offer sofas made of full-grain, top-grain or bonded leather materials. I will try to explain the differences as best I can.

The Qualities Of Full Grain Leather Products

The simplest way to describe full-grain leather is that it is the entire outer animal hide with all its imperfections and marks the animal acquired in its lifetime. It may have a pebbled appearance, have scars, or be stiff and heavy as a material. Nothing has been removed from the hide surface and nothing has been peeled away to make it thinner or more pliable. This type of leather is the most expensive and the most durable.

What Manufacturers Mean When They Say Top Grain

In creating upholstery materials for a sofa, manufacturers take the animal hide and split it into two layers; a top layer that represents the part of the hide that pertained to the animal’s outer skin, and the bottom layer that lays deeper than surface scars. This splitting process creates a supple and soft material making it easier to drape over couch frames and cushions. Top-grain leather is also considered good-quality.

Understanding What Bonded Leather Means

When leather is labeled as bonded it means that there is a bit of leather inside the material. Manufacturers use scraps and pieces of the animal hide that are blended with polyurethane materials to create a semi-leathery upholstery fabric. This material is held together by the fabric inside, but in general, this type of material can’t stand the wear and tear that real leather can handle over long-term daily use.


The Benefits Of Buying And Owning A Full Grain Leather Sofa

• A full grain leather sofa is a stunning piece of work that will make any living room look elegant. Since they are more expensive than a lot of other sofas, most people will recognize them as a luxury item which is always a wonderful thing.

• Full-grain leather furniture adds class and elegance to your room elevating the perceived value and prestige of your home.

• Built-in stain resistance; leather is very difficult to stain, so if you do have a mishap where you spill some food or drink, you won’t need to worry about the stain staying there forever.

• Temperature; Leather sofas are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They are very comfortable especially when other materials might make you sweat.

Potential Downfalls Of Full-Grain Leather Seating

• Scratches- Over time, especially if you have dogs or cats, the leather will scratch. It can be very difficult to repair these scratches so you might be stuck with them unless you hire a professional restorer.

• Price- In order to get a high quality full-grain leather sofa you’re going to have to pay a good amount of money for it. This is probably the biggest downer as far as this material is concerned. The high price tag is what makes other types of leather products and blends so appealing.

• Image- Some people might not like the way a leather sofa looks in a living room. There is a sense of manliness attached to a leather sofa that a woman may not enjoy.


The Best Qualities Of Top Grain Leather Sofas

• Sofas that are made of top grain leather are known as real, luxurious, and easy to sit on. Since the cellular structure is strong it means that the leather will last for a long time.

• Generally cost less than full-grain versions, but offer the same beautiful texture and feel.

The Cons About Top Grain Leather Seating

• The price tag for major seating items like sectionals can still be out of range for those on limited budgets.

• It won’t have the same scratch resistant properties as the thicker full grain versions.

• Any type of leather will require special care to keep it from drying out or cracking.


The Positives About Buying A Bonded Leather Sofa

• If you choose a reputable manufacturer, bonded leather couches and chairs can look as high-end as the 100% leather versions.

• They are much more affordable and less of a “scary” investment.

• Purchasing bonded leather products is a good way to participate in the recycling of leather scraps and helps to reduce waste in the industry.

• Easier to wipe clean than fabric sofas.

The Not-So-Great Aspect Of Bonded Leather Products

• It isn’t 100% genuine leather.

• Bonded leather doesn’t have the longevity of full-grain or top-grain versions.

This video does a good job of explaining the way that leather is split for manufacturing and what the characteristics are of the finished product.