Magazine article Sunset

When Is Leather Right for You?

Magazine article Sunset

When Is Leather Right for You?

Article excerpt

What do cowboys, motorcyclists, and bookbinders have in common? They love leather-for its never-say-die durability and other attributes. The same qualities can make leather your longest-lasting upholstery fabric-in fact, quality hides can get better with age.

Now cowhide also comes in a widening palette of colors, and is used to cover many furniture designs.

Prices also run the gamut, from less than $500 to $2,500 for an armchair. (High price does not guarantee high-quality furniture construction; see "How to uncover quality in upholstered furniture" in

To shop intelligently, you should understand terms salesmen and product brochures use.

Top grain refers to the outermost layer of hide split off from underneath layers.

Corrected means hide has been sanded or buffed to minimize or remove markings, such as excessive wrinkles and scars that can reduce a hide's appeal.

Full grain is uncorrected top-grain leather retaining its natural grain.

Aniline dyed means dyed with a color formulation that fully permeates the hide.

Pigmented leather is spray-coated after correcting with opaque pigments to ensure uniform surface color; pigmenting is sometimes done to uncorrected hides to even out color after aniline dyeing.

Embossed means imprinted with a mock grain to cover up imperfections; rarely done to top-quality leather.

Glazed means polished with high-pressure steel rollers to produce a glossy finish.

Split leather is the inner layer of hide left after top grain has been split off, it's stiffer and less durable than top grain. Lacking natural grain, it must be embossed. …

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