The look of leather is undeniably stunning, especially when it’s a leather couch we’re talking about. It’s been your dream for years to own such a couch, but you worry about the longevity of the leather. How long does a leather couch last? We've checked with the furniture experts to bring you the answer.
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Leather couches have different lifespans depending on the quality of leather and your budget. They last anywhere from 5 to 25 years. By caring for your couch, you can preserve the leather and keep it in tip-top shape much longer.
In this article, we’ll delve further into the factors that influence a leather couch’s lifespan as well as provide tips on extending the life of your couch. We’ll also touch on the best and worst leather qualities so you can shop smart! So be sure to keep reading.
How Long Will A Leather Couch Last?
There’s no one guaranteed lifespan for a leather couch because many factors can affect how long you have the couch. Let’s take a closer look at those factors now.
How high did you set your budget for a leather couch? You can sometimes buy such a couch inexpensively, but the quality of the leather is more than likely not going to be good. In the next two sections, we’ll discuss the differences between high-quality and low-quality types of leather.
Real Or Fake Leather
Even if it’s poor-quality leather, if it’s the real deal, it should last longer than faux leather. Pleather and vegan-based leather products tend to include ingredients like plastic and vinyl.
According to Rod’s Custom Workroom, vinyl might have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years. This isn’t bad, but considering some leather couches can last for a lifetime with the right care, a decade or two isn’t a very long time.
Care And Upkeep
Arguably the biggest determinant of leather couch lifespan by far is how well you take care of the couch–or don’t. Leather couch upkeep doesn’t mean no one ever can use the couch, but maybe keep pets off the seats. You also want to clean the leather if spills happen. We’ll share more tips later for leather couch maintenance.
How To Make Your Leather Couch Last Longer
Even if you bought a couch made of reconstituted leather or another, less-than-stellar leather grade, you can still get some good years out of it. Here are some tips for leather couch upkeep.
Limit Who Uses The Couch
We said before that your leather couch is for using, not staring at, but that doesn’t mean every family member needs to sit on it. If your kids are young and prone to jumping, bouncing, and playing around, you might discourage their use of the couch until they’re a bit older. You’ll also probably want to keep pets off the couch.
Some wear and tear to your leather couch is unavoidable, but you can decelerate its progress.
Buff The Couch When You See Scratches
Even with full-grain leather, scratches can occur on your couch. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove these scratches with a microfiber cloth. Rub at the scratch in a circular motion to buff it. You don’t even need to wet the cloth to do this. Don’t let scratches sit, as they can deepen if you ignore them.
Oh no! Does your leather couch have a hole in it? Don’t miss this post: How To Fix A Large Hole In A Leather Couch
Keep Away From A Sunny Space
When determining where in your living room or den the leather couch will go, position it so it’s away from any windows. Sun exposure, especially over many years, can wreak havoc on the leather. The sunlight might cause the leather to dry out and crack or it can fade the color.
Clean Up Spills ASAP
Life happens, which means spills happen. A clean, dry microfiber cloth can quickly absorb the fluid so your couch doesn’t bear the brunt of the spill. Moving quickly with your cleanup can also prevent staining.
Clean Your Couch
Dirt, dust, and other grime can accumulate on your couch as the years go by. Use a feather duster or even a portable vacuum to suck up messes from the couch cushions every week or so. Yearly, condition the couch with a leather-friendly product made for furniture.
What Is The Highest-Quality Type Of Leather?
Whether you’re shopping for a leather couch or a leather jacket, this animal hide product comes in different grades that you should be aware of. These grades are as follows: full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine or corrected leather, split-grain leather, and bonded or reconstituted leather.
Which of these types of leather is the very best? It’s full-grain leather, says leather retailer Buffalo Jackson. They call it “the highest quality grade of leather money can buy.”
All About Full-Grain Leather
Full-grain leather comes from the hide’s outer parts, also known as the grain. During full-grain leather manufacturing, the leftover animal hair on the hide gets removed, but no buffing or sanding occurs. This leaves the natural look of the grain intact.
Sometimes blemishes are present on full-grain leather products, so this leather might be cheaper than an immaculate piece of leather from the same grain. Imperfections or not, full-grain leather is costly for manufacturers to procure, and that’s part of what makes it so expensive for consumers.
Another reason for the high costs of full-grain leather is that the untouched fibers, as well as the inclusion of the outer layer, lend this leather great strength. Compared to any other type of leather, full-grain is the strongest. It’s no wonder then that it’s often favored for use in furniture as well as footwear and saddlery.
Besides its strength, the outer layer also makes full-grain leather water-resistant. If you happen to spill a drink on a full-grain leather couch, the spill might be less damaging. Do keep in mind that the outer layer colors will change over the years, but most people who own full-grain leather products find this an endearing quality.
If you by chance can’t get your hands on full-grain leather, Buffalo Jackson says top-grain leather is the second-best type. It does not include the outer layer as full-grain leather products do, so top-grain leather is thinner but not necessarily weak. The removal of the outer layer makes top-grain leather easier to work with so you incur lower costs.
What Is The Cheapest Type Of Leather?
Okay, so those are the highest qualities of leather you can find, but what’s the worst quality? That would be bonded or reconstituted leather. As the name indicates, bonded leather is an amalgamation of leather pieces and scraps that were left over during the manufacturing process. Think of bonded leather as the hot dog of leather; it’s got all sorts of things in there.
Since the leather comes from a variety of sources, there’s a chance some of the leather in bonded leather might be full-grain or even top-grain. That said, how much leather is actually in bonded leather depends on the manufacturer as well as the good being produced. In some cases, reconstituted leather goods include as much as 90 percent leather, and in a worst-case scenario, it’s 10 percent.
What is the rest of reconstituted leather then? Mostly fiber, latex, and polyurethane. The fiber is a sheet or mesh that’s used to give the reconstituted leather structure. Latex and/or polyurethane bond the leather together, since the pieces are often quite small (they may be shredded first).
It’s practically impossible to tell how much leather is in your reconstituted leather good, especially considering the product is often painted over so it has a more uniform color. Oh, and on top of that, manufacturers will use an embosser or press to add a leather-like texture to the reconstituted leather so it looks and feels more like the real deal.
Want to learn even more about bonded leather? Check out this post: 9 Types Of Leather Couches By Leather Type
What Are The Disadvantages Of Leather?
Leather couches certainly make a statement in any room, but leather isn’t always a dream material for your couch. Here are some downsides of leather to keep in mind.
Lack of Color Choices and Patterns
If you want a bright, colorful couch or even a range of color options, you’ll be disappointed with a leather couch. The same is true if you’d prefer a patterned sofa. Leather is always un-patterned.
Susceptible to Temperature Changes
As the temperatures shift, you’ll have a different experience sitting on your leather couch. In the winter when it’s colder, your couch could get chilly, which will make you not want to use it. Once the mercury begins rising in the summer, your couch will feel warm too. If you sweat, you’ll leave the leather slick in your wake.
Often Quite Expensive
Even lower-quality leather is still pricy because well, it’s leather. For more budget-friendly couch shoppers, a fabric couch is your better bet.
Leather couches may last 5 years (on the low side) to 25 years, sometimes even a lifetime. To prolong the life of your couch, buy high-quality leather such as full-grain or top-grain, clean your couch, and keep it away from the sun. Enjoy your leather couch!