How to shop for a leather sofa

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Buying any sofa is a big decision. Sofas are expensive, and if you end up hating the upholstery, replacing it can be costly. High-quality leather sofas often last much longer than regular upholstered sofas, but it is important to learn some facts about leather in advance so you don't make the mistake of paying too much for low quality or imitation leather. Read on to learn how to shop for a leather sofa.

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  1. 1

    Learn about grades of leather before you shop. Full-grain aniline leather sofas are the softest, most priciest pieces around. With top-grain leather, the top of the leather is sanded off and processed for a uniform look. If you can afford it, avoid split-grain leathers, which are taken from the lower surfaces of the hide and are notoriously weaker.

  2. 2

    Understand the ways manufacturers prepare and finish leather. Among top-grain leathers, aniline leather has been soaked in aniline dye, with no other finishes or dyes applied, while semi-aniline has a little coating or pigment to protect against fading and stains. Pigmented leather, made from lesser-grade hides and fully treated with surface color, may be stiffer but offers protection against scratches, fading and stains.

  3. 3

    Measure your room and all door openings in advance, and decide where you will place the sofa. Take your dimensions along with you to the store. There is no sense in falling in love with a piece, only to have it get stuck in the doorway. You may need to consider a sectional or a few smaller pieces of leather furniture.

  4. 4

    Keep in mind your room colors when you shop. That chestnut sofa may look great in the store, but clash terribly with your favorite chair. Ask about other colors that may be available but not displayed on the showroom floor. Some retailers also may offer leather swatches for free or a nominal cost.

  5. 5

    Try out the sofas in the store. Is the sofa wide enough to lay down and take a nap or snuggle with your sweetie? Do the cushions feel firm? If the thought of your family lounging around and eating popcorn on the sofa makes you shudder, you may have to settle for a lesser grade for your own sanity. You want to enjoy your purchase, not constantly worry about your sofa getting ruined.

  6. 6

    Ask the salesperson about the sofa frame and construction. Look for solid hardwood frames on any leather sofa.

Tips and warnings

  • Note that some manufacturers may use a combination of leather grades on the back or sides of the sofa. Be sure to ask the salesperson about each section of the piece.
  • If you can't find the leather sofa you have been dreaming of at all the local retailers, consider shopping online for your sofa. While you won't get the chance to physically sit on the sofa, many online furniture sites offer you more information than you get in a furniture store, as well as candid customer comments. You may also end up paying very little for shipping as well. Make sure you understand the return policy and warranty.
  • If you want the best quality sofa but can't afford the high price tag, consider looking in the classified ads or an estate or tag sale. You may end up with a beauty of a sofa.
  • Remember to factor in tax and delivery costs. You may save a few bucks by borrowing your buddy's truck and shipping it home yourself.

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