About Leather Sofas

Updated February 21, 2017

Leather sofas were once only for the more affluent, but today's leather sofas can be affordable and durable while still being as luxurious as ever. Choosing the right type of leather sofa is also easier than ever thanks to the wealth of information available online. Learn about the differences in leather grades and quality before you enter the furniture showroom.


There are different types of leather used to cover sofas. Natural leather, which is also known as full aniline leather, is one of the most luxurious. Nubuck leather is natural leather that has been brushed for a soft, suede-like feel. Pull-up aniline leather is natural leather that has been treated with a special wax and oil coating to alter the look of the sofa as it ages. Semi-aniline leather is also specially coated, but for protection, not appearance. Pigmented leather is polished and dyed for colour consistency.


Natural leather sofas are expensive and easily stained or damaged as they are left uncoated. Nubuck leather is the most difficult to maintain because the treatment process leaves it very absorbent. Pull-up aniline is also pricey and the addition of the coating allows the leather to wear unevenly, resulting in light and dark contrasts over time. Semi-aniline leather has a coating to protect it from stains and is much more durable than natural leather. Pigmented leather can be extremely durable and easy to maintain. The pigmenting process allows for uniform colour throughout the life of the sofa.


Knowing which type of leather is covering a sofa may be as simple as looking at the price. Natural and nubuck could sell for several thousands of dollars, whereas pigmented leather prices begin in the £325 to £390 range. Natural and nubuck are made from top grain, while pigmented leather sofas may be made from bottom grain, or split hide.


Determining which type of leather sofa to purchase should depend on your lifestyle. If you are furnishing an upscale office, natural or nubuck leather may suit your needs. If you have children and pets, then pigmented leather would be best, but semi-aniline leather will also work. Sofas made from top grain leather should last a lifetime, while split hide leather sofas have a life expectancy of about five years. Understanding the differences in leather qualities and finishes will make purchasing and living with your leather sofa much easier.


Certain leather sofas are more durable and easier to maintain than upholstered sofas. As top grain leather ages, it gets softer and more beautiful. Cleaning a spill on a pigmented leather sofa typically requires only water and a soft cloth. Fine leather sofas warm to your body temperature in the cold and remain cool to the touch in heat. They also allow for stretching while maintaining their shape. The luxury of a fine leather sofa is something you will enjoy for years.

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About the Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.