How to choose upholstery leather

Upholstery leather is set apart for being more appropriate to cover car interiors of cars, boats, planes, décor, and furniture. Generally, this type of leather comes in larger sizes and has been treated to have specific physical characteristics, including resistance to wear, water, fire, etc.

Based on how it will be used, upholstery leather can be classified as follows:

  • Classic interior leather for furniture like sofas, chairs, etc.
  • Automotive leather hides cover the interiors of cars.
  • Nautical leather to cover boat interiors.
  • Specific upholstery skins that are usually fireproof for aircraft and hotels.

Advantages of upholstery leather

Upholstery leather is often available in various styles, colours, finishes, and tanning. As a result, it has the following advantages:

  • Luxurious appearance and natural touch
  • Durability and resistance to wear
  • Breathability and comfort
  • Eco-sustainability since leather is a by-product and not the main production item

Types of upholstery leather

When faced with the decision of which leather to purchase, one of the first aspects to consider is the price, and this is often determined by the type of leather, dyeing, finishing, and tanning procedures.

There are three fundamental varieties of upholstery leather, ranked here from the least expensive to premium.

Split leather: In this type of upholstery leather, the hide is split into two layers, the lower part called split. The leather is coloured, rectified by grinding, and dyed or left in its suede form during the finishing process.

Corrected grain leather: This is a sort of top grain leather treated with pigments or superficial patterns to conceal flaws and provide a consistent look.

Full-grain leather: This is the most beautiful and expensive type of upholstery leather. However, it is delicate, with the top layer of the hide (grain) preserved in its most natural condition.

Types of finishing for upholstery leather

Upholstery leather can have the following finishes:

Pure aniline leather is coloured hides treated with non-toxic dyes but no protective finish. It is very porous and easily absorbs natural oils. Since aniline dyes are transparent, it is used for high-quality full-grain leather with natural marks on the surface.

Semi-aniline leather is similar to aniline upholstery leather and has a thin layer of pigment applied to even out the colour and surface.

Pigmented leather has a dye sprayed over to protect and cover the surface for greater resistance and rich, uniform colour. This kind of finish is usually applied to split skins and top grain hides.

Pull-up leather is a kind of semi-aniline leather with added wax and a two-tone antiqued effect caused by pulling the dye.

Nubuck leather results from sanding full-grain leather to create a velvety soft appearance like a suede effect. However, unlike suede, it is a delicate and more luxurious finish.

The best leather for car upholstery

Pigmented leather is the most used leather for automobile interiors and upholstery because of its resilience and comfort. In addition, coloured leather isn’t too expensive, providing a nice balance of luxury and affordability.

Furthermore, chrome-tanned cowhides with a pigmented finish to correct the grain are the most-used upholstery leather, offering the perfect compromise between appearance, affordability, durability, and longevity. While nubuck or full-grain leathers are occasionally used, the delicacy of the material needs to be counteracted.

To cover a car steering wheel, a full-grain leather like an aniline or semi-aniline finished bovine Nappa upholstery leather is more suitable to offset the increased rubbing.

Choosing the right upholstery leather

Choosing the best upholstery leather for your car comes down to your personal preferences and the car’s colour. Dark exteriors may require light upholstery and vice versa. However, other considerations include practicality. For example, lighter coloured leather seats tend to become filthy more readily and require more upkeep. On the other hand, too dark upholstery leather can quickly heat up when exposed to UV rays. In addition, red seats might seem garish in less-than-luxurious vehicles.

So, to ensure you are purchasing high-quality leather, use full-grain leather. It is the most aesthetically pleasing and the most durable over time.

Contact Philton Autotrim for details

Philton Autotrim is one of the leading automotive leathercrafters and leather suppliers in South Africa. We are experts in upholstery leather. Get in touch with our team today for more information.

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