The way that you furnish your house is what makes it a home and there’s nothing quite like leather sofas and chairs for adding a touch of luxury to your living space.

Nubuck sofas

But is the beauty and elegance of leather upholstery matched by an ability to stand the test of time? Well, that depends on several factors. If the furniture is in constant use – and especially if there are children and pets in the house – it will suffer from wear and tear more quickly. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will have a negative effect, as will failure to carry out regular care and cleaning.

The type and quality of the leather is also extremely important. Most furniture leathers are made from cow hide which has been coated with a colour pigment and protected with a matt top coat. But there are also top-of-the-range porous leathers, called ‘aniline’ or ‘semi-aniline’, and suede or nubuck. At the cheaper end is coated PU leather.

                  Leather furniture material    Choosing Leather furniture

There are a number of things to take into account when buying leather furniture and here are our top tips for making the right choice.

1. Buy from an established furniture store

Purchasing leather furniture usually involves a significant outlay, so it makes sense to buy from an established store which has a good reputation. Staff working in a furniture shop that has been in business for a long time are more likely to be able to offer good advice and reliable customer service if something goes wrong.

2. Beware of cheap offers

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Leather furniture that is heavily discounted may not be the real thing. For example the surfaces could only be partially made from leather with the rest comprised of a range of processed materials. Sometimes the manufacturer will use a made-up name to make it sound like real leather.

3. Buying online

While it is advisable to visit a store to see and touch the furniture for yourself, this might not always be convenient, depending on where you live. Many established furniture shops will most likely have websites and so it’s a good idea to make them your first port of call.

Obviously there are many online-only retailers who, because they have lower operational costs than high street stores, can offer very attractive prices. But, before committing to a purchase, check the returns policy and make sure that the seller can be contacted by phone in the event of a problem.

4. Choosing the right leather

There is no standard furniture leather and the quality will depend on the original hide, the tanning and, dyeing methods and the manufacturing process. Generally, furniture leather is made from cow hide and is smooth with a coloured finish. The highest quality – and therefore most expensive – is aniline leather. While this looks and feels beautiful, it is porous. This means that it will stain and damage easily, whereas leather that has been colour pigmented and finished with a protective top coat is more robust. Your choice should therefore be influenced by the intended level of use – as well as your budget.

5. Choosing the right colour

Where the furniture is likely to be heavily used on a daily basis, it makes sense to go for a darker colour. On lighter surfaces, discolouration and soiling is more visible. Dye transfer from clothing, particularly jeans, is more obvious on pale-coloured leather.

6. Always check the label

While leather furniture may be advertises as such, it is advisable to check the label and product descriptions to make sure. In some cases not all the surfaces could be leather so you need to be sure what, if any, other materials have been used.

7. Check the warranty

Leather furniture usually has a statutory warranty period and some manufacturers offer extended warranties. Always check the warranty so that you know exactly what it covers. Sometimes a warranty is only valid if you can prove that you have made the yearly purchase of a leather care set. Also some furniture stores offer a “special impregnation” with additional guarantees. A word of caution. The manufacturer should already have provided adequate protection. Also the special impregnation could contravene the warranty if the manufacture doesn’t recommend such treatment.

8. Ask about cleaning and caring for leather furniture

Aftercare is extremely important for maintaining leather furniture in good condition. Unfortunately, in a bid to win more customers by playing the easy-to-maintain card, many manufactures’ recommended leather care is simply to “wipe with a damp cloth”. While this is fine within the initial warranty period it is not the best strategy in the long term. Checking which products you should use in advance, will save on expensive repairs later on.


             Red Wingchair Chesterfield           White Leather Sofa recoloured  

Caring for leather the Colourlock way

We stock a range of products that are ideal for cleaning and protecting leather furniture:

If you would like more information or advice on caring for or repairing leather furniture, one of our experts would be happy to help.