Types of Leather Furniture and Their Care

Leather Furniture

Leather furniture, made from the treated hides of animals, is highly prized for its durability, attractive appearance and comfort. Although most leather furnishings are made from durable cowhide, accents or entire pieces may be made from more delicate hides, sometimes with hair or wool left intact. Lesser-quality products may utilize non-leather or “leather-like” materials on some or all surfaces. True leather furniture carries tags designating whether it is made using a coated or uncoated material. Both types have advantages and drawbacks, and each requires a different approach to care and cleaning.

Coated or Top-Grained Leather Upholstery

This type of leather is commonly used for home furnishings as well as automotive upholstery and fine fashions. If your furniture’s tag has a “P” designation, this indicates a coated or protected fabric. More heavy-duty in nature, coated or protected leather surfaces have a consistent, finished appearance. Liquids spilled on this surface will bead up and wipe away without darkening the fabric. Experts advise cleaning this type of surface with a soft, damp cloth. You may also use commercial leather care products, including mild detergents and conditioners. Protective creams or sealers are also available (provided the manufacturer approves their use) that can help repel stains and minimize the damage caused by UV rays.

Uncoated or Aniline Leather Upholstery

More rare than top-grained materials, uncoated or aniline leather is used for high-end furniture and fashion. Look for an “A” designation on the furniture tag. It is recognizable by its very soft, delicate nature. Uncoated leather is highly vulnerable to staining and discoloration from moisture, dirt and oils. Experts advise frequent vacuuming to avoid any build-up of dust or dirt. Although you can use an art-gum eraser to gently remove stains, any type of detergent, conditioner or cream can cause stains and discoloration, often resulting in permanent damage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, or test specialized aniline cleaning products in an inconspicuous location before using them on your uncoated furnishings.

Semi-Aniline Leather Upholstery

Semi-aniline leather also carries an “A” designation on its tag, but it can easily be mistaken for top-grained fabric, thanks to its heavier nature and finished appearance. This product is commonly used as an upholstery fabric, but many unsuspecting consumers inadvertently purchase it for their high-traffic living or family rooms. In this setting, semi-aniline upholstery can quickly become stained, worn or even torn. Check with the manufacturer for cleaning and protecting strategies whenever possible. Otherwise, invest in a good set of aniline-specific cleaning and protectant products. Apply them as soon as possible after purchasing your furniture and reapply at regular intervals per package directions.

Serving Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities, Guild Hall Fine Furnishings specializes in fine leather upholstery of all types. You can count on their knowledgeable interior design staff to help you select the right pieces for your lifestyle. Visit them today for all your leather furniture needs and questions.

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