types of leather

Different Types Of Leather: Protected vs. Natural Leather

Choosing the correct leather is all about your lifestyle and how your piece of furniture will fit into that lifestyle. But first a quick lesson on the different types of leather.

Understanding The Different Types Of Leather

There are top-grain and split hides. Top-grain leather quite literally means it is the top layers of the hide that are thicker and more durable. Split leather is “split” or removed from underneath the top grain layers. The difference between these two is the quality and longevity of the product.

Top-grain leathers, if properly cared for, can last 20+ years without any serious damage. Whereas with split leathers, you will see peeling and cracking over a much shorter time period. At PerLora, we pride ourselves on the fact that we only order top-grain leather furniture. And that goes for the whole piece, not just the seat cushions and arms like some companies that will use split leather on the sides and backs to cut costs.

With top-grain hides, you then have the choice between protected or natural leather and that’s where your lifestyle comes into play.

Protected vs. Natural: Which Types Of Leather Is For You?

For starters, a general rule of thumb is if you have kids or pets you should be looking at protected leathers. This is due to the fact that a protected leather has a layer of polymer coating to help resist stains, preserve the color, and make it easy to clean and maintain. Protected leathers also tend to have a consistent look and feel because of the pigments in the polymer coating. These leathers are normally corrected and embossed to give a uniform grain texture and color. With this added protection, you then lose the soft, supple feel of a natural hide.

Natural leathers are for your leather connoisseurs, the higher prestige rooms of your home, and where there is less frequent and more cautious use. These leathers are for where you want to showcase the natural characteristics of the hide, not for where you need the most durable covering. Since a natural hide does not have that polymer layer, you will have a much more buttery hand and a one-of-a-kind look.

Natural leathers are mostly not corrected meaning you might see the typical markings from the rawhide. These marks could include stretch marks, wrinkles, scars, insect bites, calluses, veins, and grain variation. These should not be seen as blemishes but beauty marks since it means you are sitting on the truest and therefore softest form of leather. Without the protective layer, the hide does lose some of its durability as it can stain more easily and can be more delicate to clean. Waxed, Nubuck, buffed, and your more specialized leather finishes normally fall under the natural leather category.

Protected Leather:

  • Color consistency
  • Grain consistency (if embossed)
  • Reduced visibility of natural marks (if buffed/sealed)
  • Less soft to the touch/hand
  • Lightly breathable
  • Excellent resistance to fading
  • High stain resistance

Natural Leather:

  • Natural color variations
  • High visibility of natural marks
  • Natural grain variations
  • Extremely soft to the touch/hand
  • Very breathable
  • Poor resistance to fading
  • Poor stain resistance