What are the pros and cons of leather furniture? You love how it looks but want to be sure it's the right choice for your furniture investment. We've done some research to find the answers for you. Let's take a look.
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When you're thinking about the pros and cons of buying leather furniture, here's what to consider:
- Durability - Pro
- Cost - Con
- Care and Maintenance - Pro
- Do you have pets? - Pro and Con
- Style trends - Probably a con
- Furniture pieces that are available - Pro
- The feel of leather - Con for some people
Let's look at each of these factors in depth below. We'll also discuss how long it takes to break in leather furniture, if faux leather lasts longer than real, and if leather furniture contains formaldehyde or fire retardant. So please, keep reading.
The Pros And Cons Of Leather Furniture
Many homeowners love leather furniture. And nowadays it's available in so many styles and colors. There are choices for every decor style. But what are some of the pros and cons of investing in leather furniture? We're going to take a look at six different areas for you to consider before your purchase.
Durability is important when investing in furniture. You want something that's going to last. So how does leather furniture stack up in the durability department? Good news, leather is typically quite durable and thick. It won't fray like fabric will, and any scratches caused by pets or the buckles on shoes are usually easy to buff out with a leather polish (more on that in the pets heading). So durability is definitely a pro when thinking about whether or not to go with leather.
Look for full-grain leather for the strongest durability. Click here for this gorgeous sofa on Amazon.
Leather furniture is definitely more expensive than upholstered furniture. And for this reason, it may be a deterrent when you're picking out pieces for your room. However, if you pick a really high-end piece, it may last you four times longer than a faux leather sofa of the same quality. And though leather furniture can often be reupholstered, you'll probably find more tradespeople willing to reupholster fabric than leather. So, the cost may be a con in the list of pros and cons.
This small black sectional sofa in top grain leather costs 30% more than it's fabric counterpart. Depending on the fabric piece's original costs, this can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Care And Maintenance
Care and maintenance of a leather sofa are definitely more carefree than that of a fabric sofa. There's no need to Scotchguard it, and if it gets something spilled on it, wipe it up with a damp cloth. You can use a dust cloth on your leather furniture to keep it looking fresh and give it a vacuum under and behind the cushions a few times per month.
Leather can dry out over time, so about once or twice a year, you might choose to condition your leather furniture. This will keep it looking hydrated and supple, and scratch-free.
A simple leather cleaner and conditioner used about once a year will go a long way toward keeping your pieces in top-notch shape. This Leather Honey is highly rated for furniture and auto interiors of leather.
Do You Have Pets?
Pets and leather furniture are kind of pro and a con. The great part about leather and pets isn't that leather won't hold onto odors the way fabric will. You can also easily wipe or vacuum off hair and dander from leather furniture. High-end thick leathers will not scratch easily under pet's nails.
The con to pets and leather furniture is that leather is expensive. If your pet decides to chew on the arm of your chair, or your cat uses the back of the sofa as a scratching post, it's a far more expensive replacement than fabric or faux leather. Some leather sofas are very soft and buttery in texture, and these types may scratch more easily. But if you get the right leather pieces, pets and leather are more of a pro than a con.
Style trends come and go. This is why, if you want the most cutting-edge color and profile, leather might not be the best choice. As we mentioned, it's expensive. And once that style goes out of fashion, you may be left with a furniture piece you no longer want and can't even resell.
That being said, there are ways to choose leather pieces that are timeless and work into any decor. This means even if you have avant-garde taste, you can still have leather that is an investment as well as perfect. Work around your timeless leather piece to create the total look you're going for.
Furniture Pieces That Are Available
Another thought with leather furniture is can you get it in all of the pieces you want it in? You know upholstered and wooden pieces are readily available in everything from bar stools to sectionals, but can the same be said of leather? It'd be a real con if they weren't available in the pieces you wanted.
Good news, this aspect is a pro! There are leather pieces available in just about everything. Leather headboards, bar stools, office chairs, dining room chairs, sofas, loveseats, armchairs, and sectionals all come in leather. Even poufs, ottomans, throw pillows, and beanbag chairs can be found in leather. (see our post here: 20 Leather Bean Bags and Poufs That Will Make Any Room Comfy)
Why not a tufted genuine leather platform bed? That's right; this interior bedframe is the gorgeous leather look you're considering.
Here's a gorgeous pair of cushioned chestnut leather dining chairs. Use them for the table ends, or buy four more to make a complete set for your dining room table.
The Feel Of Leather
Another thought for people is the feel of leather. For some people, this is a real con. The leather is cold in the winter and sticks to your legs in the summer. You slide across when you sit down, and it feels too hard under your hands. If you prefer something soft and cozy to sink into, then chances are leather upholstery won't be your first choice.
How Long Does It Take To Break In Leather Furniture?
Leather furniture will soften and break in over a period of time. How long this takes depends upon the type of leather. A soft suede will take less time than full-grain leather. But typically, your breaking in period will take between six weeks and twelve weeks.
How do you break it in? That's simple; just use it. If you want to give it a helping hand, you could always use a little saddle soap to soften it up more quickly.
Does Faux Leather Furniture Last Longer Than Real Leather Furniture?
Sadly, faux leather does not last longer than real leather furniture. In fact, leather furniture will last about 4 times longer than the fake stuff. Look for terms like faux leather, leatherette, synthetic leather, vegan leather, or pleather. All of these fabrics are some man-made material made to simulate the look of real leather.
Bonded leather does use actual leather in its production. However, it is not traditional leather. Bonded leather is the leftover bits from the tannery that get ground into very tiny particles then sprayed onto a man-made backing to form a hybrid material. Some people call it recycled leather. These bonded leather pieces can be much less expensive than real leather but still give you the look you want.
This bonded leather club chair looks very much like the real thing. It has both the look and feel of a quality top grain leather at a fraction of the cost.
Does Leather Furniture Have Formaldehyde?
Unfortunately, the process of turning animal hides into leather fabrics involves a fair amount of chemical involvement. Formaldehyde is one of the formulas used. From the Leather Research Laboratory: "Formaldehyde is found in most leather at various concentrations due to its use in the synthesis of retaining agents and process chemical preservatives." When writing about the limits allowed, this is their report: "The U.S. has not implemented a regulatory ban or limit on the presence of formaldehyde in leather, but some other countries and most retailers – particularly the brand names – have implemented their own specifications that can range from as high as 300 ppm to as low as 10 ppm."
What does this mean when buying leather furniture? If you buy a major brand, probably nothing. However, there is a chance for any new piece of leather furniture to outgas when new. As always, do your own research to find out about your particular furniture pieces.
Does Leather Furniture Have Fire Retardant?
Most leather furniture does not come pre-sprayed with a fire retardant. This is because, unlike fabric upholstery, true leather upholstery passes the match test without retardant. This means when a match is held to the fabric for 20 seconds and extinguishes within 2 minutes. Faux leathers and Bonded leathers won't pass such a test, so you may want to apply your own fire retardant.
These faux leather chairs are upholstered with fire-retardant foam in the seats. Click here for this on Amazon.
Pros Outweigh The Cons
In our list of considerations to weigh, it seems as if the pros outweigh the cons. There are some very personal factors, like feel, budget, and even environmental concerns. But as far as investments go, the longevity, beauty, and ease of care make the pros go a long way towards the winning side.
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