Leather vs Fabric

Everything You Need to Know About Leather & Fabric

Leather & Fabric Facts & Informative Guide


Leather FACTS
Why Buy Leather?
Types of Leather
Full Grain vs Top Grain
How leathers and protected leathers are made
The Benefits of Fabric Furniture

    Leather Furniture     Fabric Furniture

Here are the facts that will have you making your next purchase in complete confidence.

Myth: Leather furniture doesn’t last!

Fact: The fact is, leather furniture is something you buy for a lifetime. Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina, making it even more beautiful over time. And since leather furniture is something you can enjoy for years to come, this is a purchase that makes a sound investment.

Myth: Leather furniture is only for the rich!

Fact: Even though leather furniture brings your home a rich look and feel, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy leather furniture. Because leather wears in and fabric wears out, you’ll find that leather lasts much longer than fabric and can be a better value.

Myth: Leather furniture is too hard to care for!

Fact: Leather is easy to care for. Just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur with a clean cloth. Avoid using normal cleaning supplies — like soaps, detergents, solvents, etc.

Myth: Leather furniture is easily damaged by animals and kids!

Fact: Unless your dog thinks your new leather couch is a chew toy or your cat thinks it’s a scratching post, your leather furniture is as safe as any other furniture in the house. For more peace of mind, select a protected leather for your furniture, which has an extra finish applied to it. This helps protect the leather so pets and kids can sit on the couch with none of the usual worries.

Myth: Leather furniture is either too cold in winter or too hot in summer!

Fact: Leather seats in a car do get hot in summer and cold in winter. But for leather furniture indoors, you’ll find that it warms to your body heat in the winter. In the summer, since it’s natural and can breathe, leather stays pleasantly cool. Just keep it out of the sun (which is hard on the color, too).

Here are some tips and tricks for keeping leather furniture beautiful and carefree for many years to come. (Please also refer to the care instructions provided for the specific type of leather you purchase.)

Under normal usage/conditions, regular dry-cloth dusting and vacuum cleaning in crevices or along the bottom is all that is necessary to clean your furniture.

The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months.

Protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.

Why Buy Leather? TOP

The advantages of leather furnishings over fabric are numerous:

Leather is incredibly strong!  It takes over 400 lbs. of pressure to puncture upholstery leather.

The tear strength of leather is legendary!  That is why you see harnesses, belts, and shoe laces made out of leather.

Leather is naturally burn resistant!  It is the only upholstery material that does not require additional flame retardants to meet airline specifications.

When maintained, leather has an incredible life expectancy!  Most experts rate leather as 4:1 lifetime over textile.

Leather in non-allergenic! All of the dust particles can be fully removed making it ideal for dust sensitive persons.

Leather does not sit hot or cold!  In fact, it maintains room temperature until it comes in contact with your skin then it adjusts to your temperature.

Leather is a prestige item!  Most items, like furniture and automobiles, are available in leather indicating quality.

Types of Leather: TOP


Leather Leather Leather

Full Grain vs Top Grain: TOP

FULL GRAIN LEATHER Just as the grain, texture and markings of wood should reveal the nature of the tree from which it came, leather should display the natural markings and grain characteristics of the animal from which it was taken. The best upholstery leathers are clear, clean, and supple. They are also dyed through with transparent aniline dyes. The full natural grain is retained and they are called “full grain leather.” Cheaper leathers have the natural or genuine grain sanded away and an imitation grain pressed or embossed into the surface.They are stiff and “boardy” with a heavy coating of pigmentation to cover up imperfections and they look and feel much like plastic.The better the quality of hide or skin, the less it has to be treated.The natural grain variations should be exposed. One should see the “fat wrinkles” and the feel, or hand, should be supple and natural to the touch. So when choosing your leather, make sure it looks natural, smells good, and has a soft hand. Inspect your leather carefully. Make certain that it retains the full natural grain. Full grain leather is the best quality!

TOP GRAIN LEATHER The most confusing term used in the furniture industry is the term “top grain”. It can be a contradiction because it often implies what it is not. “Top grain”, is the definition that is generally used when the grain is not genuine: when the real grain is sanded away and an imitation grain is stamped into the leather. When the genuine grain remains, the leather is called, “full grain”, or “full top grain”, not simply “top grain.” Top grain is a generally regarded as a economy leather!

How leathers and protected leathers are made: TOP

The leather is tanned, then dyed to a crust color.

The surface is then brushed with fine brushes that cut the leather and create a nap or velvet texture.

Depending upon the article, stamping of a grain or print effect may be administered.

Additional dye stuff is applied to the surface to even out or enrich the color.

Fixation agents are sprayed on the surface to seal the color and prevent transfer.

The leather is tumbled to bring out the effect and maximize softness.

Often the surface is sprayed with additional  dye in an attempt to even out the coloring.

It is possible that additional treatments are administered to create looks like savage, pull up, wax crackle, and shrunken grain.

As a final step, sometimes a light protective spray (such as wax) is applied to give the leather light resistance from staining.

The Benefits of Leather FurnitureTOP

  • Hypoallergenic

Allergy sufferers often do better with leather sofas because leather doesn’t harbor dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens as easily as fabric does.

  • Appearance

A leather furniture can lend a certain elegance to a room that is hard to duplicate in fabric. Lake Leather Chesterfield-style sofas are very traditional , but as a rule, leather furniture are typically more trendy than their fabric counterparts. If you like a contemporary  or modern look, leather furniture tend to appear more sleek and high end in a space than fabric does.

  • Care

No, this isn’t a typo. I also listed care as an advantage to leather sofas, because really the care involved in each sofa depends upon your household. Leather is very easy to clean – usually requiring a light dusting or rubdown a couple of times a year – where fabric needs to be vacuumed and cleaned regularly. However, both leather and fabric are easy to clean and care for if your lifestyle is suited to the finish.

The Benefits of Fabric Furniture:

Fabric Furniture    Fabric Furniture

  • Comfort

Fabric furniture vary widely depending upon the fabric and the support system of the furniture (i.e. the cushions and frame). However, fabric  tend to be much more comfortable than leather for several reasons, but the main reason is that fabric tends to be an overall softer, warmer finish than leather. Just like your leather car seats, leather can often feel hot and sticky in the summer and cold in the winter, and leather sofas tend to feel more firm than fabric sofas.

  • Care

The wear and tear of fabric most often depends upon the grade of fabric. Of course, the better fabrics (just like the better leathers) will withstand wear better. Most fabric sofas are treated with a stain-resistant finish, so when spills do happen, they are easily cleaned with specialty products or a handheld steam cleaner. Fabric doesn’t get scratched like leather does, so it tends to withstand pet’s claws and kid’s homework binders better than leather.

  • Color & Pattern Choices

Leather can come in a variety of colors, but fabrics are unlimited in their color and pattern choices, so you will have a better chance of matching existing decor or getting a color that you want.

  • Budget

You can usually get more bang for your buck if you go with a fabric furniture. Quality fabric and framing is expensive, but the same furniture like sofa in leather will always cost more.