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Types of Leather for Furniture (Part 2)
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The maze of leather terms is confusing, but it's important to be familier with the different types in order to care for your furniture.

Aniline. This is a dying process in which the hide is dipped in color that's allowed to soak in, leaving the features of the hide visible. Typically used only on top grade hides. This is a quality choice, but is also susceptible to staining.

Antique Rubbed. These are expensive leathers, because of the hand application process. One shade is applied over another, then rubbed to give it an aged appearance. It then receives a coating for protection. Distressed leathers are also created in this manner.

Enhanced Grain. This is a specialty process that takes natural texturing and gives it a more uniform look.

Full Grain. This is leather at its most original, with no coloration.

Nubuck. While you may see this term grouped as suede, there are differences. Nubuck is the brushed surface, or grain side, of the hide as opposed to the inner portion, which is used to create suede. Nubuck feels soft as suede, but is generally more durable due to being a surface grain material.

Pigmented. A surface coloration that can hide imperfections in the hide. Pigmentation can be applied over a natural or pre-dyed hide.

Pull-Up or Waxed Pull-Up. These are typically full aniline leathers with a wax sealant. When stretched, they present a more brilliant hue. A noted trait in higher quality leathers.

Pure Aniline. Also called "full aniline." Leather that is "aniline-dyed," but without any sealer for protection. Known for its supple feel, much of the graining remains visible.

Semi Aniline. A leather that has received a dye that is allowed to soak throughout, then has received a pigmented layer for blending and as protection.

Split. The inner side of the hide that has been removed from the grain layer.

Suede. The inner portion of the hide that has a brushed look with a "nap" to it.

Top Grain. This is the upper side of the hide. For many types of applications, a machine separates the upper and inner portions (called the split) to maintain a uniform surface. It's stronger than split leather and that's why it is used for furniture. As opposed to full-grain leather, these are also smoothed and sanded to eliminate natural flaws.

These are very basic terms you'll see when shopping for furniture. Remember, too, that there are types of leathers coming from animals other than cows, but cowhides are typically used for upholstery.

With regard to grading, leathers are either top grain or split. Within each of these two categories, you'll find the varying treatment processes. Most furnishings will carry labeling, including:
-A - Aniline
-P - Pigmented/Protected
-N - Nubuck
-SA - Semi-Aniline

A premium grade leather is from a cowhide with few imperfections, although a hide may never be "perfect." It will have the least amount of protective coating to reflect the true beauty of the material.

Deluxe grade leathers fall in between premium and standard and have some level of clear topcoat for protection.

Standard grades receive a clear protective coating. They're still very comfortable and highly durable, especially for active families.

Lower end grains may show the imperfections that reflect the life of the animal, including brushes with barbed wire and other incidents. These do not affect the strength or durability of leather.

 

 


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