At Forrest Furnishing we understand how confusing it can be to buy the correct leather sofa group, or chair, for your purposes. We have put together this guide to the main types of leather available.
The most attractive and natural leather, this has a supple feel with unique surface characteristics visible. The dye used on this type of leather is transparent and the surface grain and any natural marks, such as scarring, remain visible. Aniline leather is incredibly soft and not all hides are suitable for use on large single panels of upholstery. Because of this, differences in colour and texture must be expected. Because aniline hides don’t have a top coating, making them naturally more porous, they are more susceptible to absorbing liquids.
Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. Semi-aniline hides have a light surface coating applied to the leather after dyeing. They offer a combination of the softness and feel of full aniline leather with the protective benefits of a surface finish. Hides in this category show fewer natural characteristics and are harder wearing than full aniline hides.
Corrected Grain or Pigmented:
Pigmented hides are usually corrected by buffing the outer surface of the leather grain before the application of dyes and lacquers onto the leather surface. Corrected grain hides are very hard wearing, as they are given more protective coatings. The grain on this type of leather is usually applied by machine, to give a more uniform appearance.
This is sometimes confused with suede, but is actually aniline leather where the surface has been ‘brushed’ to create a texture similar to velvet. Nubuck is an effect that is done to the grain side of a hide. This brushing actually breaks the surface and opens up the leather even more making it incredibly soft. As a result of this, the leather becomes more absorbent than aniline leathers, and so, is not suitable for everyday use.
As leather is a natural product, each hide will have its own individual characteristics. Just as fingerprints differ from one person to another, so there will be differences in grain, texture and colour from one hide to another, and even within the same hide.
Stretch marks, insect bites, and scars are common on leather furniture and it is these marks which distinguish 'real' leather from man-made substitutes. None of these characteristics have a weakening effect on the hide. The marks are proof of the natural product and it would be impossible to obscure them all from view, without coating the surface with a thick layer of paint, which would destroy the beauty and softness of the material.