Leather 101

Leather Banner

Leather has long been synonymous with luxury. Soft and smooth, it provides comfort and class and is extremely durable and easy to care for. While associated with affluence, leather is no longer out of reach financially. At Slumberland, we carry a broad range of leather furniture (from sofas and sectionals to chairs and ottomans) to meet a wide variety of budgets.

Why Buy Leather

  1. It’s ultimately more affordable: Leather furniture lasts, on average, four to five times as long as fabric furniture.
  2. It gets better with age: as it ages, top-quality leather acquires a patina—a soft sheen—that adds to its appearance and style.
  3. It’s always the perfect temperature: It’s a misconception to say that leather is cold. An extremely breathable material, it will adapt to your room and body temperature quickly.
  4. It’s a cinch to keep clean: Just use a damp cloth to remove any dust, and you’re ready for company.

Leather Glossary

Below is a glossary of key terms that are helpful to know as you shop for your leather furniture.

  • Top-grain Leather: The highest quality leather, top-grain comes from the outermost upper layer of the cowhide. Top-grain leather can be used in its most natural form. Because it requires minimal processing, it is softer than other leathers. Other important advantages of top-grain leather include more natural oils and larger pores, which creates a more breathable material. This also is the most durable leather and will last 4-5 times longer than fabric.
  • Split-grain Leather: When tanning leather, it is essential to reduce the hide to the thickness required for upholstered products. The back of an animal has thicker skin, which can be split to produce two pieces of leather, the second layer referred to as “split-grain.” Split-grain leathers are typically used on non-wear areas of furniture (for example the outside arms and back of a sofa), while top-grain leather is used on seats and other areas that interface with people. Using a combination of split- and top-grain leathers helps reduce the price of furniture, but not the quality.
  • Corrected Leather: Corrected leather means that the hide was sanded or embossed to remove any scars, bug bites, barbed wire fence marks, etc.
  • Full-grain Leather: Full-grain leather is leather (usually top-grain) that has not been corrected. Full-grain leathers show natural markings such as scars and color variations. These are considered a badge of authenticity, denoting high-quality leather.
  • Protected Leather: A protective finish is often applied to leather products to enrich their durability. Protected leathers are easier to clean and maintain and create a uniform color and finish.
  • Full-aniline Leather: Aniline refers to the type of dye used to color leather. Aniline is a powder added to the dye that ensures that the color penetrates the entire hide. Full-aniline leather is leather in its most natural form—without added latex color. Like full-grain leathers, natural markings, scars, and color variations in full-aniline leather are considered attributes.

Leather is undoubtedly one of the best materials for furniture. It lasts longer than fabric, is less prone to damage, and it looks fabulous. Instead of getting raggedy like fabric, leather acquires an aged look as it gets older. Additionally, leather is easy to keep clean. You just wipe it with a damp rag! Leather also adjusts to human body temperature easily, keeping the seating temperature stable. The reasons you should buy leather furniture over fabric are numerous, and with leather, you have even more choices.

For your first choice, there is top-grain leather, which is one of the finest types of leather and comes from the outermost top layer of cowhide. Additionally, there is split-grain leather, which is the second layer of cowhide. This leather is generally used on non-wear areas of furniture that won't be having much contact with you. There is also corrected leather, which has been sanded down to remove any imperfections, and full-grain leather, which is uncorrected.

Next, there is protected leather, which is leather with a protective layer added to it, making it easier to clean, maintain, and keep a uniform finish. With this material, you can ease back into your loveseat with extra peace of mind. Finally, there is the most natural form of leather: full aniline leather. Full aniline leather is leather which has only had aniline dyes added to it and not latex dyes. It is considered the finest type of leather, even among top-grain leathers.

Types of Slumberland Leather

At Slumberland, we carry a wide range of leathers, each with their own advantages, to ensure options at every price point. Our offerings include the following: 

Bi-Cast

  • A split-grain leather, covered with a thin layer of polyurethane
  • Polyurethane coating produces a uniform shine and a “like-new” appearance
  • Excellent product consistency: No natural defects and minimal variation between batches
  • High durability and flame retardant qualities
  • Easy to clean with a damp cloth
  • Among the most affordable leathers


Bonded or Blended

  • Also known as “high-performance fabric”
  • A synthetic material that incorporates leather shavings into the backing; comes in a roll form versus a hide
  • Environmentally friendly: Utilizes recycled leather fiber and has a high cutting yield, which reduces landfill waste
  • Excellent product consistency
  • High durability and flame retardant qualities
  • Wide variety of design options, from leather effects to patterns
  • No maintenance, easy to clean with a damp cloth
  • Among the most affordable options for the look of real leathers


Leather Match

  • Top-grain leather combined with the affordability of man-made materials
  • Leather on the seat, back, and arms (everywhere you touch)
  • Polyurethane on the outside back and sides
  • Highly affordable


Top/Split

  • An all-leather option at a lower cost than 100% top-grain: Top-grain leather on the seat, back, and arms; split-grain leather on the outside back and sides
  • Less expensive, but similar qualities and advantages as 100% top-grain leather furniture:
  • ✓ Extremely durable and easy to clean with a damp cloth
  • ✓ Ages beautifully and will last four-five times as long as fabric furniture
  • ✓ Adjusts to human temperature quickly
  • ✓ Non-allergenic


100% Top-grain

  • The real-deal: 100% top-grain cow leather
  • Extremely durable and easy to clean with a damp cloth
  • Ages beautifully and will last four-five times as long as fabric furniture
  • Adjusts to human temperature quickly
  • Non-allergenic
  • The most expensive among leather products
  • The most authentic of leather products with no two pieces being exactly the same