16 Aug, 2019
Since pre-historic cave people covered themselves in the skins of animals to protect themselves from the elements, leather has long been used as a practical and aesthetic material. From its primitive origins, leather has since been crafted over time by traders and artisans. Because of its durability and comfort leather became the choice material to make clothing, shoes and upholstery. It developed from its primitive origins into a luxury material that defines the quality of an item. Although leather ultimately implies luxury, the grade of leather is the true indication of the level of the quality of the product.
There are four main types of leathers which range from most natural (aniline) to the most processed (bi-cast).
Aniline leather is the highest grade of leather. Usually sourced from the raw hides of European cows, aniline leather is soft and supple and shows off the natural scars and tick marks from the animal. Because it has no protective layer on top, the leather, like beautiful recycled timber, will change and mark over time. The natural patina will continue to develop, allowing the character of the leather to mould and adapt. Lounges made from this rich and earthy leather are easily scuffed and require more frequent care and maintenance, but the result is an absolutely stunning piece of furniture that only becomes more beautiful with every wrinkle and groove.
Semi-aniline can be a wonderful alternative to aniline. Being the next grade down from aniline this leather still retains much of the natural beauty of the skin however it is separated from the top layer, sanded and a finish coat is added, making it slightly less breathable. This allows the final product to be considerably more durable and less effected by sunlight and other potentially degrading factors. Semi-aniline leather also offers a more uniform colouring which, although perhaps loosing some character, can be very much appreciated in a more commercial look or product. Although semi-aniline leather has a protective lacquer on its surface allowing it to retain its original look, the hair follicles are still open, and the natural charm of the leather is still visible. This is really the ideal choice for a luxury leather sofa.
Corrected grain leather is the most commercially utilised leather. It is far more readily available and affordable than the higher end aniline and semi-aniline grades. In fact 80% of leather in upholstery in the market is made from this grade of leather. As the name implies corrected grain leather is sourced from hides that do not meet the criteria of the higher quality, more natural grades. The imperfections are usually sanded off and then corrected with a uniform artificial pattern. Corrected grain leather is significantly easier to maintain and care for and is recommended for lounge suites that will be bought for everyday use. It is far less breathable than the higher end grades however remains the most practical and durable choice.
Bi-cast leather is the low end of the leather grades. It is usually taken from portions of the lower grade leather that remains when the higher-grade layer is split off. The material is coated with a thin layer of polyurethane (PU) or vinyl giving it an artificial sheen. It is often utilised for lower traffic areas of furniture like the back or sides as a cost effective alternative to the higher end grades.
When thinking of investing in leather furniture it is crucial to understand the different variations and quality of the leather you are purchasing. Are you looking for something luxurious, rich in character and natural charm that develops its beauty over time, however might be a little bit high maintenance? Or do you know you need a solid and durable leather lounge that is suitable for everyday use for you and your family? Eureka Street Furniture’s extensive leather lounge suite collection offers sensational pieces that will have you covered no matter what your looking for.