As an interior design enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for stylish yet durable furniture to liven up my home. Leather couches can add a refined, classy touch, but with so many options like top grain, bonded, and faux leather, it’s tough to know which type will hold up best.
I’ll walk through the types of leather couches available and what I think of each so you can make an informed decision when upgrading your living room.
9 Types of Leather Couches
Leather sofas can be crafted from a number of different grades or types of leather. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some key takeaways about some of the leather couches:
- Full-grain leather is the thickest and most durable, but also the most expensive
- Top-grain or corrected-grain is the next best type. It is slightly smoother than full-grain, with a more even appearance
- Split leather is still leather but is lower quality and highly processed. It’s a cheaper alternative to full or top-grain leather
- Suede or nubuck has a velvety texture, which feels great on a sofa. Unfortunately, it is susceptible to stains
- Bonded or faux leather is a cheap synthetic leather alternative. It’s lower in quality and can look shiny and fake
Other terms you will come across when shopping for a leather couch are full aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented leather. These terms refer to how the leather is dyed and whether it is treated with a protective topcoat. This affects the texture of the leather and, therefore, how the sofa feels to sit on.
Full-Grain Leather Couch
The highest quality and the most expensive leather sofas and couches are made from full-grain leather from full-grain hides. It is the thickest, strongest, and most durable type of leather because it comes from the uppermost portion of the animal hide. This leather is one of the least processed types of leather.
It is not sanded or buffed to remove any natural scratches or markings from the hide. It showcases a hide’s natural texture, or “pebbling” and imprints. The hide is processed to remove the hair, and it is then soaked in a natural dye.
After soaking and tanning, the leather is not polished or finished in any way. Over time and with wear, full-grain leather couches get more comfortable and look even more beautiful. Due to the moisture content in leather, it acclimates to your body temperature when you sit on it.
Top-Grain Leather Sofas
Top-grain leather or corrected-grain leather is slightly more refined in appearance. After a hide is tanned, it is buffed to smooth the surface and remove imperfections. Top-grain leather is very soft and still retains the natural texture of the leather; however, full-grain is generally more durable than top-grain leather.
Split Leather Sofas
Split leather is made from the remaining layers of leather after the top-grain has been removed. It is harder but more brittle than full-grain, meaning, it’s also more affordable. This is still 100% leather and can be very durable if properly cared for and maintained.
Initially, this leather version looks very different from full-grain. It is lighter in color and fuzzy on both sides, like suede. This leather is further processed to imitate the smooth, shiny texture of natural full-grain leather. The result is an even-textured leather without any natural color variations, making it a very natural product.
Suede and Nubuck Couches
Suede and Nubuck leathers have been sanded a lot more than other leathers. Suede is extremely soft to the touch and the least stain-resistant of the options available.
Nubuck is a type of top-grain cattle rawhide leather sanded or buffed on the grain side to give it a velvet or suede-like look.
Nubuck is more uniform because the exterior has been sprayed with a finishing compound. It is less expensive than full-grain leather. However, nubuck furniture is more delicate and requires special care and maintenance to keep it in good condition.
Both nubuck and suede couches need a sealant to be waterproof.
Faux Leather Couch
Faux leather is a type of synthetic leather created from materials like plastic and rubber-coated fabric. Faux leather furniture has come a long way, thanks to technological advances that have improved the material composition and the comfort level of sofas. It is the most affordable form of leather for furniture, resembles genuine leather, and is also durable.
Bonded Leather Sofas
A cheaper furniture manufacturer’s first line of attack in giving you the look and feel of leather for a fraction of the price is bonded leather. Unfortunately, this isn’t real leather at all – it only has to be 17% leather by law.
Leather straps and fibers are blended together to make bonded leather, which is then molded into a roll using adhesives or other bonding materials.
The procedure is remarkably similar to that of making paper. After creating the roll, it is dried to reduce the moisture content. The downside of synthetic leather is that it will never match the comfort or durability of original full-grain leather.
Colored Leather Couches
Leather furniture comes in many different colors because leather is dyed. There are three types of colored leather: aniline leather, semi-aniline leather, and pigmented.
Aniline Leather Couches
Aniline leather is colored in a drum. Because the dye’s translucent quality allows the hides’ natural grain to shine through, it can also reveal flaws, so only the best quality hides are used in this method. The aniline technique changes the texture of leather by soaking it in dye and making it softer to the touch.
Due to the lack of a protective finish, there may be better choices for families with children than this type of colorful leather. Protective finishes are rarely applied to soft leather since they detract from the beautiful texture.
Semi-Aniline Leather Sofas
Semi-aniline leather, or protected aniline, is dyed in a vat, and it then has a thin protective coating applied, giving it a slight advantage over aniline leather in terms of stain and fade resistance.
Pigmented Leather Sofa
When color is added solely to the surface of the leather and not dyed-through, it is referred to as pigmented leather. While the color isn’t as vibrant, this method covers flaws and provides longevity.
The Texture of Leather Sofas
Consider your preferred texture when selecting your leather sofa. Leather that is excessively smooth or shiny is not a good choice. Choosing the leather that isn’t polished and looks worn is best because it’s more likely to be genuine leather.
Leather’s patina develops over time, giving it a weathered and refined appearance that can only be achieved with properly tanned animal hides. With a few years of patina, overstuffed styles have a lovely, well-preserved vintage appearance. If you want a leather sofa with the worn, comfy look of a patina, you might want to consider purchasing a used piece.
Look for a second-hand leather sofa in good condition. Often, this is cheaper than buying a new leather sofa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Leather Type Is Best for Sofa?
Full-grain leather is often considered the highest and best quality choice for sofas. It is the most durable, ages beautifully, and feels luxurious. However, it is very expensive, making it unsuitable for those on a budget. Cheaper yet quality leather options include top-grain leather and split leather.
How Many Types of Leather Sofas Are There?
Several types of leather sofas and brands are available, each catering to diverse preferences, needs, and price ranges. They include full-grain leather sofas, corrected-grain/ top-grain leather sofas, split leather sofas, suede leather sofas, nubuck leather sofas, bonded/faux leather sofas, aniline leather sofas, semi-aniline leather sofas, and pigmented leather sofas.
What Are Different Styles of Leather Sofa Sets?
The styles of leather sofa sets include traditional leather sofa sets, modern leather sofa sets, sectional leather sofa sets, convertible leather sofa sets, recliner leather sofa sets, and vintage leather sofa sets. The choice of a quality leather sofa set depends on your personal style, the size of your living space, and your desired level of comfort and functionality.
With so many leather options to consider from color to style, choosing the right leather couch for your room involves determining what look and feel best suits your needs. Keeping in mind your lifestyle, space, and decor, one of these leather couches will provide the perfect addition to make your living room as stylish and comfortable as possible.