How to Determine Leather Quality Like a Pro
Good quality leather is durable, looks amazing and ages gracefully. On the other hand, there are many imitations which look as good and can easily fool you if you are shopping for genuine leather furniture. Fortunately, there are some straightforward characteristics to have in mind when you have to determine leather quality, including:
The leather smell
The distinctive genuine leather smell. Make sure that the upholstery of the leather furniture actually has this smell, to ensure that it is real. Faux leather lacks such a smell and may even emit an unpleasant, chemical smell.
Read the label
It is pretty obvious – but make sure you take a closer look at any labels on the furniture. Reputable furniture makers will share detailed description of the quality of the leather used, so take a closer look for words like: soft grain, full grain, nubuck, saddle, rub off or aniline, you are likely dealing with genuine leather, but be careful whether it suggests that it is the highest quality leather or the lowest quality real leather.
Devil’s in the details
If you can, look at the edging of the leather. If it’s blue, experts say that it has not tanned properly. If the edges are painted, it may be to hide these blemishes. Usually, furniture makers who invest into using the highest quality leather for their upholstery, will also input the highest quality cutting and stitching of the upholstery, so look for the quality of the stitching and any imperfections, which may suggest that the leather is not of the highest quality.
Price means quality… usually
Obviously, the higher the quality of the leather, the higher the price. But’ it’s not that easy. Look for any blemishes, scars and fat deposits – the less of these, the higher the quality of the leather. Look at the type of leather – is it split grain or top grain or bonded leather. Split grain leather is actually split in two different layers. Usually the top layer is sanded and treated with chemicals. It is less breathable, harder and will not age well. Be aware of bonded leather upholstery too! It is basically pieces of leather glued together.
Feel the leather
Feel the leather. If it looks to thin, hard or like plastic, then it probably is of low quality or is an imitation. Also, look for variations in the grain patterns. The lack of variations probably means that the leather has been machine printed.