Throughout the ages, leather has been a timeless statement of style. Its durability and versatility across many applications makes it a material that will always be relevant.
The durability and ‘feel’ or ‘nap’ of leather to the hand makes it an ideal medium for upholstery proven to endure the test of time. As a result, due to inherent low maintenance, long lasting and sophisticated characteristics the luxury upholstery finish of soft leather is long appreciated.
Physical Merits of Leather
- High Tensile Strength. Hence the long term endurance.
- Resistance to tear
This is due to the three dimensional structure on the natural hide.
- High resistance to flexural fatigue.
- Strong resistance to puncture.
- Low bulk density.
Because of its fibrous nature the bulk density of leather is low without impairing its other qualities.
- Good heat insulation.
As its low bulk density indicates there is a considerable amount of air between the fibers of leather. The air clings to the fiber surfaces, being static; the air is a poor conductor of heat, an important factor in bodily comfort.
- Permeability to water vapor.
At relative humidity leather fibers will hold more water vapor than any other fiber. This enables leather to absorb perspiration which is later dissipated.
- Thermostatic properties.
Leather is warm in winter and cool in summer. (This can vary between different types of leather)
- Mold ability. Soaked leather can be molded and will retain its shape when dry again.
- Anti-Fungal properties. Leather is treated for resistance to mildew and rot.
- Resistance to fire. Therefore a safer option to highly flammable nylon fabrics.
Types of Leather
Full grain leather is mostly natural with little human interference following curing & colouring.
Hides without natural imperfections and scarring are less common, therefore increasing the cost.
Consequently, it is the strongest most durable leather.
It will require some periodical rejuvenation treatments to maintain and extended life.
Due to its porosity it can also be more vulnerable to spills and stains.
Top grain leather comes from the uppermost layer of a hide.
Depending on the quality of production this type of leather can vary a great deal.
Top grain leather is created by buffing and polishing any imperfections then coating with a durable sealer.
A full hide of leather can be split into many layers.
As a result the layer below the very surface are typically quite fragile.
These layers have the pattern of hide embossed before the addition of a protective surface coating.
As a consequence this type of leather is cheap to make and depending on the quality of base chemicals the top layer is prone to deteriorate prematurely.
A mixture of leather material bonded together and ‘painted’ with a sealed finish.
A wonderfull man made creation but not always the best product for high levels of use.
This leather offers the appearance of leather but at reduced cost.
Leatherette is yet another name for vinyl, or faux leather.
In the early days of development there were chemical companies like DuPont developing the use of plastics.
Original production of this cover involved the use of a calico type base cloth covered in plastic.
Since then we have had many developments in the manufacturing process.
From the late 90’s we saw development in the use of (PU) Polyurethane as a flexible skin to these man made creations. Now fine tuned they offer a quality upholstery solution for any high use commercial seating.