• Erin Berg

7 things you need to know about buying leather furniture

leather buttonHIGH POINT — Consumer demand for leather upholstery has grown on average 3% over the past three years, and today’s more sophisticated consumers have access to a wide range of information at their fingertips.

One disadvantage of having so much information available is that it can create confusion for the consumer. The retail sales associate (RSA) who is informed and prepared to break through some common misperceptions about leather can increase the opportunities because it gives the salesperson greater confidence and consequently the ability to win sales.

                                                         1. Why is leather hot/cold?

Leather adapts to the temperature of its environment or what is nearest to it. If ambient temperature is 70 degrees, the leather will feel cool or cold to you because normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. If the room is 90 degrees, the leather will feel hot. However, the type of leather will affect the amount of time it takes the leather to adapt to the body temperature. For example, pure aniline dyed leather (see Glossary) will breathe and assume body temperature rapidly.

2.  Can I have leather furniture if I have kids/pets?

Leather is very durable and lasts 15 to 20 years compared to about five years with fabric. It ages well, and it stretches and retains its shape without sagging. Leather is more resistant to animals than fabric covered furniture, does not absorb animal odors and cannot be penetrated by animal hair, but it can be damaged by the sharp claws or teeth of dogs and cats.

3.  Will leather crack or split?

Direct exposure to sunlight and heat can damage leather by fading and drying it. Fading is commonly seen in semi-aniline and aniline leathers and less common in fully finished leathers that have a protective top coat. Drying of leather from the sun will damage any kind of leather regardless of the finish. The sun’s heat causes the natural oils to evaporate, eventually stiffening and cracking the leather.

4.  Why is one leather grade more expensive than another?

Raw hides come from many different sources all over the world, and climate and other conditions vary greatly in those regions, affecting the hide characteristics and quality and therefore requiring different levels of correction. Other factors such as special surface treatments and the age of the animal also affect the final cost.

5.  Are there supposed to be marks and blemishes on the leather?

The marks are your assurance that you have real leather. There are corrected leathers and other finishing processes that will reduce the appearance of some of those natural marks and blemishes, but it is important to know that those are natural characteristics of the raw material, just like the ones on human skin.

6. Are animals harmed to make leather?

Leather is a by-product of the beef industry, and if not used to make leather products, the hides and skins would be disposed of as waste.

7. How is bonded leather different from real leather?

Bonded leather is a composite of leather and polyurethane. It is a more affordable alternative that offers the look and feel of 100% leather.

Erin BergErin Berg | Associate Editor

Erin Berg is an Associate Editor for Furniture/Today. After earning her B. A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California, Erin began her career in marketing where she served clients in a wide variety of industries from film and television entertainment to aviation. Erin lived in Italy and four different states before landing in North Carolina in 2009.

Erin can be reached at EBerg@furnituretoday.com or at 336-605-1040.


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