Leather Care & Cleaning Vancouver WA


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Leather is the choice you make when you welcome timeless, luxurious pieces into your home.

Leather is a term for all hides and skins which have been tanned. It is not enough, though, to say that a piece of furniture has been upholstered in genuine leather.  All leather is not the same. It comes from different kinds of hides, which are tanned and treated differently and are finished in a variety of ways. Genuine leather is available both as a top grain and a split. Hides, like human skin, also have individual wrinkles and scars that make each one unique and natural.

When leather is dyed, it captures the color based on the hide’s individual cell structure. Each area of the hide will absorb dye in varying amounts making it darker or lighter than other areas. When the cushions on a leather sofa are slightly different shades than the back or arms, it simply means that the pieces were cut from a different area of the hide.

Leather is the strongest upholstery material known to man. Nature has created its strong physical nature by weaving an intricate network of leather fibers. Leather will not readily burn or melt, and unlike most fabrics and vinyl, it is extremely difficult to puncture. Because of recent improvements in the tanning process, todays leathers will remain flexible indefinitely. With the proper care, leather can stand up to the rigors of daily life in the home or office.

Unlike imitation leathers, genuine leather will not become hot or sticky in the summer or cold in the winter. There is no other material to match the feel and aroma of good leather. Over the years, leather becomes richer and suppler and gets a soft patina much like a well-worn glove or saddle. No two pieces of leather are alike. Each has its own natural markings and shadings, which make it unique.

Leather is a natural skin, even when upholstered on furniture. It has limited elasticity and will soften and relax as you sit in it and with use. All leathers will stretch and in most cases they will not return to their original shape. This is a natural characteristic of genuine leather and is not a defect – it actually will become even more relaxed and loose over time. This does not affect the wear of the leather but does increase the comfort!

Leather Types

Leather is one of the most desirable types of upholstery today. Nothing compares to genuine leather. There are many types and degrees of quality of leather used in furniture making.  Hopefully we can help you understand some of the language of leather so you can make an informed decision about buying or maintaining your leather furniture.  Different types are better suited for different lifestyles.  Here are some definitions and descriptions.

Top-Grain Leather

Cowhides are thick enough to be split into two or three layers of leather. The uppermost layer, or top grain, is the most desirable and strongest. The lower layers, or splits, are used to make corrected leathers and suedes. Top- grain leathers have natural markings and reveal leather in its natural, unaltered and unprocessed state. Natural shade and grain variations should be expected in all top- grain leathers.

Aniline Leather

These leathers come from the finest selection of unblemished hides and generally are the most expensive and luxurious, and least processed and are the closest to a pure and natural form. These leathers are tanned and colored with transparent dyes but offer no protection from fading or staining.  Aniline leather is buttery soft (the hand in leather jargon) and will age beautifully, but it may not be the best choice for an active family room because of its lack of stain protection.  Aniline is also quite prone to fading even from indirect light. There is really no way to effectively clean these leathers!

Semi-aniline leathers offer the softness of aniline but have the protection and clean ability from a clear topcoat. 

Finished Leather

Finished leathers are practical for active households. These are the most common leathers used in furniture.  These types of leathers are finished with a color pigment and a top coat to provide resistance to staining and offer overall color consistency within a hide. These leathers are less affected by the harmful rays of the sun, though it is best to keep them out of direct sunlight. This leather will give you years of durability and wears well in high traffic areas.  It can be carefully cleaned. 

Nubuk Leather

Nubuk leather is a pure aniline, top-grain leather that is also dyed with transparent dyes, but the surface grain is machined with fine brushes to create a very soft fine nap . It is almost like having a velvet leather. It is more beautiful, durable and much softer than suede. Again, as an aniline, nubuk is susceptible to staining and fading.

Bi-cast and Bonded Leather

Bi-cast leather is made from the lower splits from the hide.  Grain and color are added to the surface.  It is an inferior product and is prone to tear or rip.  It can be repaired though and cleaned.  Bonded leather is a manufactured product, not true leather, basically made from ground up leather scraps and adhesive.  It does not hold up well in furniture.