Ahhhh, leather! What’s not to love??? The smell! Durability! And just like a fine wine – it actually improves with age!
But there’s a lot more to know about leather than you may think.
Leather is very durable; about 4 times more durable than fabric. It ages well and retains its shape without sagging.
It is resistant to animals hair and odors as it can easily be wiped clean but it can be damaged by claws and teeth that might decide to be a little too adventurous.
There are three different dye methods in the leather making process: pigmented, aniline and protected aniline.
Pigmented leathers are typically the most inexpensive type of leather. The leather is dyed directly on the surface with a protective coating mixed in with the dye. It is ideal for heavy use and is very durable and easy to maintain. These leathers typically have naturally occurring imperfections that are sanded down and embossed to give the leather a uniform grain.
Semi (protected) Aniline leathers are finished with a thin protective sealant to prevent staining. It is considered to be more durable than aniline leather. This leather is pretty much the best of both worlds as it offers the feel of aniline leather but with protective benefits.
Aniline leathers are considered to be the best! They have a soft and pliable texture and are dyed with clear and transparent dyes allowing the color to permeate through the entire hide and do not have any protective topcoat paint applied to protect the leather. These clear dyes allow the natural characteristics, marks and blemishes of the hide to remain visible. Because there is no protective topcoat, aniline leathers are less resistant to staining and scratching but develop a beautiful patina over time.
Types of Leather
Bonded leather is a composite of leather and polyurethane and is known for its durability. It is best used in higher traffic areas such as dining stools or chairs.
Bicast leather is considered to be a step up from bonded leather and is a layer of split leather that is too thin or flawed for normal use. Bicast and bonded leathers are perfect for someone looking for the feel and look of leather without the higher price point. It is also very durable and easy to clean.
Split leather is any layer of the hide underneath of the top-grain and is often fuzzy and does not have the “look” of leather. It is then processed to look and feel like a top-grain leather. This process usually buffs down natural markings and they become lost.
Top-grain leather is my favorite! It is made from the strongest, upper-layer of hide and is the most refined, smoothest, natural leather you can find. Top-grain leather breathes - It is quick to acclimate itself to your body temperature as it is made of 12-14% water. The most important thing to remember about top-grain leather is that it is so UNIQUE! No two hides of leather are alike. They have special colors, scars, insect bite marks that all tell a special story.
Whatever leather you decide - be sure it fits your personality!