top of page

All Things Leather Furniture

Nothing adds beauty and richness to a room like attractive leather furniture. Furniture upholstered in leather has been used around the world for hundreds of years and is the most durable, cleanable and long lasting furniture covering. Today we will talk about how to choose the best type of leather for your furniture.

Before we dive into the different types of leather used in the furniture industry let's discuss some decisions you should make when choosing your leather type. First, determine how the leather will be used in your home. Is it an everyday piece that will have heavy use? Do you have kids or pets? Or is this an accent piece going into a spot that will have light use? Figuring out where the furniture piece is going and its expected use will help you choose the best type of leather for your needs.

Always remember leather is a natural product and each hide is unique. The texture, color and markings will vary from hide to hide. It is common to see variations in texture and color on a single piece of leather furniture. When choosing your leather furniture, always buy top grain leathers. The actual hide is much thicker than a finished top grain leather piece and during leather processing the hide is split into layers. The outermost layer is called the top grain and it is the strongest part of the leather. The second layer of hide is cut away and used for suede other leather products.

Leather furniture has four main categories for leather type: pure aniline, semi aniline, pigmented/protected and nubuck. Each is beautiful in its own way but has different characteristics.

Pure Aniline

This is the most natural type of top grain leather and is called aniline or full aniline. It doesn’t have a protective coating which gives it the most luxurious feel of all the leather types. The absence of a protective coating makes this leather susceptible to staining and fading. A natural patina will develop over time and that is a part of pure aniline leather's unique beauty. Pure aniline leather is recommended for people who love the soft feel of natural leather and expect only light or moderate use on the furniture.


Semi-aniline leathers are dyed in an aniline dye first and then some are coated with a protective topcoat. The leather is still susceptible to some staining and fading but it is more durable than pure aniline leathers. These leathers are easier to clean but remain soft to the touch. Semi aniline leather is recommended for people who appreciate the softness and texture of natural leather but they expect to use their furniture regularly.


This is the most durable leather finish used for furniture. The hide is dyed and then the surface is coated with a protective topcoat that has color added. Pigmented/protected leather is the easiest to clean and it is also resistant to staining and fading. Pigmented/protected leathers are recommended for active families and heavy use. Choose this leather finish if durability and performance are important to you.


Nubuck leathers are top grain but their top surface has been buffed to soften the surface and give it a suede like feel and look. It is incredibly soft and much stronger than suede because it is still top grain leather but it is very susceptible to staining and fading. Nubuck leather does develop a rich patina over time for that perfect aged look. Nubuck leather is recommended for people who are looking for truly luxurious leather and don’t mind giving the furniture piece extra precautionary care.

Leather Care

Regular dusting and wiping up spills with a clean cloth is the best way to care for your leather. Furniture manufacturers recommend different cleaning methods for their products and because of this it is very important to follow the manufacturers recommendations for leather cleaning. Contact your furniture manufacturer to get cleaning instructions for their leather furniture and follow them closely.

About Leather

Leather is bought from tanneries around the world. Leathers may display unique natural markings and variations in color. No two leather hides are the same. Certain leather types will develop an aged patina look over time. Remember leather does require some care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. Please note where you are placing your leather furniture. The key is to keep it out of direct sunlight. UV rays cause fading even to protected leathers so make sure your leather furniture is out of the direct sunlight. Also make sure the leather furniture piece is not too close to a heating vent or fireplace because these heat sources can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

Top grain leather is certainly the best choice for furniture upholstery because it lasts up to five times longer than fabrics. Leather resists stains, is rugged and incredibly durable. Leather naturally repels most liquids and is easy to wipe clean. Leather also has wonderful breathability and it adapts to your body temperature. Another great property about leather is it is flame resistant making it a safe choice for your home.

If you are searching for a quality furniture piece, top grain leather is the number one choice. Leather furniture pieces offer unique one of a kind looks that will last for years to come. People choose leather furniture for their homes because of its higher durability, quality and timeless beauty. And let's be honest, nothing smells quite as delightful like real quality leather.

By Chloe Holister-Cicciarelli

Interior Designer, Blogger & Marketing Consultant

Chloe Holister-Cicciarelli has been in the design field for the last 4 years and she works at Stewart and Company Fine Furniture as a marketing consultant, blogger and with customers as an interior designer. Chloe is a passionate writer and when she isn’t working you can find her walking her dog and being engaged in countless art projects. For more blogs from Chloe please click

Stewart and Company Fine Furniture


472 West Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI. 49007


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Pinterest Icon
  • Black Google+ Icon
bottom of page