Leather Upholstery Fabric
Leather is one of the oldest forms of upholstery. It’s a natural product that comes from animal hide and grew in popularity in the Renaissance when craftsmen learned how to paint, gild, and emboss the leather. To this day, leather is still a wildly popular form of upholstery for everything from chesterfields to sofas.
Leather upholstery comes in a dizzying variety of colours and styles. Leather is traditionally coloured in burgundy, oxblood, walnut, burnt orange, and other strong colours like these. You can find traditional leather upholstery with a glazed and shiny finish.
Modern leather fabric is different from what you find with antique furniture. These days, leather fabric is softer and more comfortable, there is a huge variety of designer colours, and it’s significantly cheaper. Leather can also be mixed with other forms of upholstery to create unique pieces.
What Are the Benefits of Leather Upholstery?
The benefits of leather for upholstering furniture are many. Leather has outstanding durability and will outlast most other fabrics. It has a very long life and ages well. A quality piece of furniture upholstered in leather will last your entire life. Leather is also resistant to heat and damage from the sun.
Another thing that people don’t realize is just how comfortable leather can be. Modern leather doesn’t crack or peel like old leather does, and it also breathes, making it ideal for sofas in the hot months.
What Are the Types of Upholstery Leather?
Leather is taken in its raw form from animal hides and then altered through a complicated process to make it softer, more attractive, and perfect for furniture. There are seven main types of leather upholstery, each with its own unique process.
Full Grain Leather: Full-grain leather is the most authentic type of leather and what most people would consider real leather. To create this type of leather, the hair is removed from the hide, it’s soaked naturally, and there are no additional treatments needed. This is traditional, pure leather and the most expensive. The texture is tough but will gradually soften with use. This is what you see on older pieces of antique furniture.
Top Grain Leather: Top grain leather is highly polished and goes through a rigorous buffing process to make it softer than something like full-grain leather. But it still has the same durability and longevity. Top grain is softer and less rugged than full-grain.
Bonded Leather: Bonded leather comes at a very affordable price. It’s created from scraps and put together using a special adhesive material. It only has around 17% leather, but it still looks, smells, and acts just like leather. For those who don’t want to spend much money, this is the best option.
Split Grain Leather: Split grain leather is created when the top outer layer of the leather is removed. It’s cheaper because the actual amount of leather is less, but it gives a rougher and harder feel than other types of high-quality leather, which is why it’s less expensive.
Faux Leather: Faux leather isn’t made from the animal hide at all. This is the preferred type of leather for people who don’t like to use animal products. It doesn’t have the same reliable quality as real leather, but it is durable and looks awesome. It’s also affordable because it doesn’t require animal hide to be made. For those who don’t want to have actual animal skin in their house but still want the smart and suave texture of leather for their furniture, faux is best.
Bi-Cast Leather: Bi-cast leather is very similar to split-grain but has a coating of polyurethane that makes it look more like top grain leather. It’s significantly less expensive than top-grain but mimics the appearance. Unfortunately, because it is a cheap imitation, it is more likely to crack and peel.
Nubuck Leather: Nubuck leather comes from rawhide, which comes from cattle. Nubuck leather is sanded to give it a soft appearance kind of like suede. However, this is one of the most fragile types of leather and isn’t waterproof or even weatherproof. But it is unique since it’s made only from cattle hide.
Is Upholstery Leather Real Leather?
It’s hard to tell just by looking at what leather is real and what leather is fake. However, there is a sure-fire way to tell before you make your purchase. Always check the tag. The tag must tell you what kind of leather you’re dealing with. If the tag says genuine leather, pure aniline, semi-aniline, nubuck, or pigmented, it’s 100% real authentic leather.
On the other hand, if the tag says something like faux leather, bonded, leatherette, pleather, or Naugahyde, it’s not real. Just like how every piece of clothing has a tag that says what it’s made out of, so too does every piece of leather have a tag that will tell you exactly if the leather is real or not.
What Type of Leather Fabric is best for Upholstery?
The best type of leather fabric for upholstery will depend on various factors, including the desired look and feel, durability, and intended use of the furniture piece. Here are some popular options:
- Full-grain leather fabric: This is the highest quality and most durable type of leather. It is made from the outermost layer of the hide and retains its natural texture and markings. Full-grain leather is known for its strength, resilience, and longevity, making it a popular choice for high-traffic areas.
- Top-grain leather fabric: This type of leather is also made from the outer layer of the hide, but it is sanded and treated to remove imperfections and create a more uniform appearance. Top-grain leather is softer and more pliable than full-grain leather, but it is also less durable.
- Bonded leather fabric: This type of leather is made from leftover scraps of leather that are ground up and mixed with a binder to create a new material. Bonded leather is affordable and has a uniform appearance, but it is not as durable or long-lasting as full-grain or top-grain leather.
- Nubuck leather fabric: This is a type of top-grain leather that has been sanded and buffed to create a soft, velvety texture. Nubuck leather is luxurious and comfortable, but it is more susceptible to stains and damage than other types of leather.
Ultimately, the best type of leather fabric for upholstery will depend on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your furniture peice. It’s always a good idea to do some research, read reviews, and talk to a professional to help you make an informed decision.
How Much Does Leather Upholstery Cost?
People always ask, is leather upholstery expensive? The answer is, it can be. To give you a rough idea of how much leather costs, the average price to reupholster a piece of furniture is anywhere between $200 and $1000. But as you probably can guess, the price depends on the size of the piece and, of course, what type of leather you want to have upholstered.
On average, you can expect to pay between $30 and $60 per yard of leather fabric. If you’re having a piece reupholstered by a professional, labour charges can be anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour.
To break it down even further, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1800 to upholster a couch. For a sectional sofa, the price can go up to $4000. More affordable pieces are things like bar stools, dining room chairs, couch cushions, outdoor cushions, and ottomans. These can range from between $60 to $300. And if you’re considering upholstering your car seat with real leather, expect to pay between $200 and $800 per seat.
When choosing upholstery fabrics, cotton has a myriad of benefits, however, if you would like more information on other upholstery fabrics, check out this related article – How to choose upholstery fabric