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Leather Furniture Basics – What You Need to Know Before Buying Leather Furniture

Learn the basics of leather furniture so you get the best quality leather possible without getting ripped off.

Buying leather furniture is a big commitment, if you buy the right kind of leather you’re making an investment that can last a lifetime and only get better with age. If you buy poor quality leather you’re going to regret it pretty quickly and your money was wasted.

The best way to determine if you’re getting a good deal on your leather furniture is learning about the jargon that is used in the business. Unfortunately, not every furniture store hires the most experienced personnel and some of them will throw words at you that sound impressive but may actually be terms used to describe inferior product. Use the guide below to learn some of the key terms so you can buy leather furniture with confidence.

Faux Leather

If you’re in a lower price bracket then you may hear the term leather match a lot. Faux leather can be a good thing if you normally couldn’t afford a piece of leather furniture. But faux leather can be a bad thing if you believe you’re buying furniture that is completely covered in leather. Faux leather means that spots of the upholstery are made of a material (typically vinyl) that look similar to the leather portions, but are not actually leather. In a faux leather situation generally the parts that are seen and touched are actual leather, so this may let you afford leather furniture on a limited budget. But if you’re paying a lot and think a faux leather piece of furniture is actually covered in leather then you’re being lied to. Here you can find faux leather beds at a low price and free delivery.

Top Grain Leather

Leather is not simply the hide of a cow or other animal, the hide is actually split into two pieces, an outer layer and an inside layer. The outer layer is called top grain leather and is considered the best quality, most durable and softest feeling leather. If you want quality leather then you want top grain leather, but expect to pay more for it.

Split Leather

The bottom portion of the hide is what is referred to as split leather, it’s created by melding together several pieces of leather. Typically split leather is not as durable, it’s dyed more and thus it feels stiffer and cracks more easily. This is the lesser quality leather and it’s less expensive.

Aniline Finish

When finishing the hide the aniline finish is the less obtrusive one as it is a one dye process with little or no buffing done to the surface. An aniline finish is applied to the best top grain leather and gives it its natural beauty. Aniline is highly desirable and more expensive but if you’re paying for quality then this is what you want.

Semi-Aniline Finish

If leather is not finished with an aniline process then it’s a semi-aniline. Don’t let someone tell you that semi-aniline is the second best finish because there are only two official ways to finish a piece of leather. Semi-aniline finishes have some benefits as you can get great colors with the multiple dying and surface treatments and you get more protection from staining and wear. But a semi-aniline finish is stiffer, less comfortable and will not give your leather the natural patina that arises after years that is so desirable.


Hopefully this knowledge of leather terminology and jargon will help you become a better informed consumer and lead you to a top quality leather purchase that will last a lifetime.