The 4 Most Common Types of Leather Furniture
Are you looking to buy a leather sofa in the near future? If so, this article will help you decide which type of sofa fits your overall needs and budget. Working with a variety of customers over the years, I really see that quite a few people tend to be confused as to what they really are want, and what they actually get. Many times, I have had customers come in and state how disappointed they were when they bought their last sofa somewhere else, and found out their $600 sofa they bought was not real leather. On the other hand, I also have heard customers tell me about the sofa they bought that was pure leather, but they would have been happy saving the money because they would have been happy with a faux leather option. At the end of the day, it is about matching what your needs are as compared to your budget you are willing to spend.
One of the most important things to remember is that leather is a commodity. Genuine Leather has a market price and it is used for a variety of goods, such as purses, wallets, clothing, car upholstery, in addition to furniture. All of these industries buy leathers from the leather producers, and there is a market price per hide. There is no need for leather producers to sell hides for half the value of what these manufacturing industries are willing to pay for them. When you buy a genuine leather "Gucci" purse you cannot expect to find it at the price of a fake leather purse. The same applies to furniture.
The question you should ask yourself is "What type of Leather Sofa (look) is what fits best for me?" Here are some good questions to answer before your start your buying journey.
1. How much am I willing to spend on a sofa, loveseat, chair, etc.?
**Hint: If you are looking for a genuine leather sofa, and want to spend $500 then you will be on a very long, long journey. So determine your max budget, because that will help you decide what models will fit best for your budget. I will help you understand what prices to expect to pay depending on the type of sofa you are looking for.
2. How long would I like to get use out of this item? 2-3 years, 5-7 years, longer than 7 years.
**Hint: If you are the type of person that likes to switch things up every few years, then genuine leather may not be as important. However, if you want it to last years and years, then place more importance on leather. Also if the piece is not going to get much wear and tear, like in a little used sitting room, then faux leather may be fine. However, if you are buying for a sitting room in a doctors office, then genuine leather may be a better option for you.
3. Do I want more cleanability or more durability?
**Hint: I always hear from a lot of consumers that they want leather, but after drilling down further what they really want is something that they can clean up very easily because of pets and kids. Well, then faux leather may be just fine for you if cleanability is your main concern. However, if durability is more important to you, consider leather options as they are both durable and cleanable.
Vinyl Upholstery ($400-$800 average price for sofas)
This is the most basic of "Leather" type of products available on the market. This is the most affordable of all of the options, but does not contain any actual leather in the material. I am putting it in this article however because many consumers often see a vinyl sofa and mistakenly buy it, thinking they are getting a leather sofa. Vinyl is a synthetic material that is over a fabric backing. One of the benefits to vinyl is that it is easy to clean, and of course it has an exceptional price as most of these sofas are the most affordable in the leather look. Vinyl is becoming less and less of an option in todays furniture manufacturing as the next material, bonded leather is becoming more popular.
*Barcelona Bonded Leather Sofa - www.furnitureforacause.com
Bonded Leather Upholstery ($500-$800 average price for sofas)
One of the most popular materials used in todays upholstery is Bonded Leather. This is because it has an exceptional price, but still contains actual leather into the material. Bonded Leather is actually repurposing many of the leather remnants left over from genuine leather. The leather is ground down, then is then blended with fabric materials to form a material that posseses actual leather material. The amount of actual leather content may vary, however 60% leather content is usually necessary to be considered "Bonded" leather. Bonded leather can actually be embossed to give a "leather type" grain, even some decorative embossings are available such as faux alligator or other faux embossings. When you are looking online or in stores for a leather sofa, many retailers do not specify that a sofa is bonded. At Furniture For A Cause, we advertise all of our bonded sofas as bonded leather, so you know exactly which item you are getting. Most often if you are looking at "leather type" sofas under $1,000 they are either bonded or vinyl. Bonded Leather items have great cleanability and do possess leather content. If price is a big factor in your decision, bonded leather may be the best option for you between the two lower priced option items.
*Axiom Leather Match Sofa - www.furnitureforacause.com
Leather Match Upholstery ($1000-$1400 average price for sofas)
If you have a little more budget in your purchase, then Leather Match may be a great option for you to look at. Leather Match blends the best of both quality and value. This process uses genuine leather on the parts of the sofa/chair where your body touches. For example, the inside back, the top of the seat cushion(s), and the arm panels all are made with genuine leather, while the outside back, the outside arm, and the front rails of the item are made with faux leather that is dyed to match the other leather. We offer several of these items on our sales floor, and 100% of the time, when I tell a consumer that it is fake leather on the outside, they say they would have never noticed or known had I not told them.
What Leather Match does is that it gives the consumer that is willing to pay a little more for leather the opportunity to pay for the benefits of leather where it is most important to them. The areas that touch the body are the areas where the item will take wear and tear, and also the areas where people will get to enjoy the "feel" that only genuine leather provides.
Genuine Leather ($2000 and up for sofas)
If you are a lover of premium quality and want to keep an item for years and years, there is no beating a genuine leather sofa/chair. Genuine Leather will tend to age with a soft crackle over time, rather than peel, like a bonded leather or a vinyl. If you see an item in a store and it is peeling, then more than likely it is not genuine leather. When shopping don't be afraid to unzip one of the cushions and feel the backing of the material to see if it is leather on the back. Also, do the smell test. In most, occasions you can smell actual leather on a genuine leather sofa.
Depending on the type of leather the price on a sofa can vary from $2000 to $4000 on average for a good quality leather sofa. While it is not impossible to buy a leather sofa for less than these prices, it is not probable. One of your best options to find a genuine leather sofa at a good value is when we get them in our gently used donated inventory. Often, we price these sofas less than $1,000 depending on the style and other factors. These don't last long as people know a good value when it comes to genuine leather upholstery.
The main purpose of this article is to give you the 4 basic types of leather and leather like furniture found in the market today, and what you could expect to pay for them at most furniture stores. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other factors to consider that determines the overall price of a piece of upholstery such as quality of leathers/fabrics, spring systems, quality of cushions, frame quality, and also the size of the item. However, as a buyer for 18 years I can say with confidence that these price ranges would be what you would expect to find more often than not in todays market.
We sell all types of Leather Furniture both online and in our retail store, so shop with confidence that we can accomodate your needs no matter what you are looking for. When shopping online look at the search filters and you can select bonded leather or leather options to narrow down your choices. As a side note, bonded leather and vinyl are both found in the bonded leather filter, while leather match and leather are both found in the leather filter. I hope this article helps you in your journey for your new leather sofa.
My name is David Reyna and I am the General Manager and Lead Buyer at Furniture For A Cause by Samministries. I personally invite you to follow our blogs and articles as they are answers to some of the most common questions that we get from customers on a daily basis. I bring 18 years of experience in the Furniture and Interior Design Industry to Furniture For A Cause. Since 1994, I have been a buyer at numerous furniture and decor markets including Highpoint, N.C., Las Vegas, New York, Dallas, even at overseas markets in France and Italy. So if you have a question, comment, or maybe an article you would like to have us post, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.