Choosing Leather Furniture

Articles on choosing the right leather furniture for you.

Video: Know your Leather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Thursday, 08 July 2010 17:46

The first step to taking great care of your leather is knowing what kind of leather you own.  Vinyl, finished, aniline, pull-Up and more.  Each kind must be treated differently so you need to know which you own!


This video will walk you through the kind of leather and includes simple tests to decide what kind of leather you own.


Last Updated on Thursday, 08 July 2010 17:52
What you need to know if you have 2-Tone Leather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Thursday, 11 March 2010 16:42

Chris here.  In the bullets below I will give you a number of important reasons you should know if you have base-print or two-tone leather (like the swatch to the right).  But first here is an introduction to the subject.

        Look closely at your leather.  Does it have different shades in the finish?  Does it have high spots and low spots that give it an antiqued or distressed look?  If so you have a specially finished leather. It goes by many industry names such as base-print, two-tone, antiqued or molted leather.  Whatever you call it, there are a few things you should know if you are considering buying or own this type of leather.

  • This leather finish is made by applying 2 distinct layers of finish to a tanned leather surface.  The first is usually sprayed on the entire hide and is called the base coat.  The second can be sprayed, rolled, hand-rubbed or brushed on top of the base coat and is called the print coat.
  • The base coat is opaque and covers color variations in the hide to give one solid color to the leather.  The print coat is a tinted transparent color that gives depth, sheen and protection to the base coat and to the leather.
  • All that to say, base-print is a beautiful looking leather finish that adds character to your leather furniture.
  • The multi-tone nature of the finish will tend to hide some stains better than a leather that is finished in all one color.
  • But a few warnings
    • Some manufacturers have had some problems with the adhesion of the print color to the base color.  When you get your leather, (or if you can sneak and do this in the showroom even better) use a safe leather cleaner to wipe a back or side area of the leather.  If the rag shows a bit of purple color, that color is the print coat. 
    • Even with a good base-print, be careful to use safe cleaners on your base-print leather.  A strong cleaner will remove the print coat and the base color alone will stand out sorely
    • .Scratches to this leather will show up lighter because you see the hide or the base coat showing through the print coat.
    • Don't despair if you do take the print coat off of your leather, it can be restored.  But especially for this job, hire an experienced professional.  Base-print work is a more challenging technique and needs the touch of an experienced leather professional

Click here for the products I use and recommend for this kind of leather.

Click here for experienced pro's that I know can help you with cleaning and repairs to base-print leather.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 21:27
Leather Furniture for Active Families PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 12:12


Leather Myths:

“I can’t buy leather, we have small children"

“I have leather because of our kids, now nothing bad can happen to the furniture”. 

Both myths!

I certainly agree that leather can be a great choice for active families with children of any age.  In fact, my wife and I have 3 active kids ages 5, 8 and 11 and we own leather.


BUT I think you need to keep a few things in mind to enjoy leather furniture with an active family:

1. Buy the right leather- We’ve been over this already in other articles, but it is very important that you buy the right leather for your family.  You want a quality,mid-grade finished leather.  It will handle the stresses and spills of normal family life very well.  Most stains should sit right on the surface of the leather and give you ample time to wipe them away without staining your leather.

2. Know what to expect- Yes leather can be great for families.  At the same time, truth be told, too many of my service customers call me because of a problem related to having an active family.  But many of these damages can be prevented if you know what to expect in advance.  Here are the top problems that I see so you may prevent them:

  • Ink damage-  Often I see a budding little artist who wants to practice their drawing skills on the leather.  Keep an eye out for it.
  • Seams broken at the top back attached pillows-  This one is caused when a family member, usually an older child and friends, leap over the back of the sofa or leans down on the back of the top cushions and breaks the stitching loose.  So have the kids jump on a trampoline, not the leather furniture.
  • Nailpolish/remover- Often I see leather that has been discolored when "someone" (when it happens nobody ever will admit it) spills nail polish or nail polish remover on the leather.
  • Bodily fluids-  Wipe up spit-up, urine, blood,ect soon and you shouldn’t have a problem, but if these fluids are allowed to sit on your leather for hours, they can remove the finish color.
  • Moisture-  Same with other liquids.  Most liquids will wipe easily off of nice finished leather if you remove them in a reasonable time frame.  Exceptions can be wet bathing suits, wet,salty/cold snow boots or hot liquids. Keep these off.

3. React quickly if possible-  As I explained in the last point, most non-corrosive liquids only become a problem on your leather if let to sit.  So wipe up stains in a reasonable time frame and the leather should be fine.  If ink stains your leather, it will set into the leather in a matter of a few hours to a few days.  It is much easier to remove ink if you get to it quickly. If a puncture or tear were to occur, having someone fix it quickly is also important.  Tears can spread either through the stress of normal wear or because small, inquisitive fingers pick at them.  So solve small problems with your leather quickly and they won’t become big ones.

Relax and enjoy- All that I’ve said is meant to help you prepare for the worst.  But for the most part, just enjoy your leather set.  Quality, mid-grade, finished leather is a good choice for the family.  Stains and wear that would destroy a fabric set will be easy clean-up for leather.  Don’t worry, plastic swords, balls, elbows,small belt and shoe buckles will not scratch or tear quality finished leather.


So follow these tips and 20 years from now when all the kids are gone, you'll still have a great leather furniture.... and some peace and quiet. :)

Click here to see the products we suggest you use when cleaning or conditioning your leather furniture. 


Clickon my picture if you need help with leather problem in the  Baltimore/Washington DC area.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 12:45
Stock Leather, Floor Only Leather or Custom Leather: Which is Best for You? PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Monday, 11 January 2010 20:48



     Most furniture stores sell some of each of 3 buying categories of leather furniture; stock furniture, as is or floor sold furniture or custom furniture.  Stock furniture means the store will have a model on display but when you buy it they have a number of the same sofas in a warehouse somewhere for you to receive.  Floor display or As-is furniture means that you buy the exact piece that you look at on display.  Custom furniture means you see a display model which may be similar to your sofa but you may choose your own covering and sometimes even shape from a catalog of choices.  Each way of buying has pro’s and con’s.  Here are a few:

Stock Leather: You see displays but you buy a stock piece


  • Easy replacement-Usually the store has multiple pieces in a warehouse for you to make sure you get one that is in good condition.
  • Quick delivery-Usually stock leather can be shipped to you quickly after you buy it so you don’t have to wait long to get it home.
  • Popular styles and colors- Because a Mfg is going to mass produce this leather, it is usually made in a popular style with some of the most popular colors for you to choose.


  • Can’t customize- You can’t customize this leather.  It wil lusually be sold in a few colors only.
  • Warehouse stored-Leather carried in stock is stored in a warehouse.  In a warehouse, furniture is subject to damage.  Be sure your piece is not damaged.

As-Is or Floor Only Leather- The exact pieces of furniture you see at the store, are the pieces you can purchase and take home.


  • Stylish furniture- Many floor only stores are run by small, stylish owners or managers who hand pick stylish furniture to display. 
  • Good decorative accents- It is also often displayed with accent pieces which give you a good feel for the leather in a room or with stylish coordinating pieces.
  • Few surprises-You get to look over your exact piece before it is shipped to you.  No surprises as long as the delivery crew takes good care with your leather.
  • Quick delivery-Usually you can leave with your sofa if you have a truck to haul it.


  • Limitedquantities- Once the piece on the floor is gone, it may not be coming back. 
  • Limited replacement ability- Should your leather be damaged, it can’t always be replaced quickly or easily.
  • Limited choice-What you see is often what you can get. Rarely do these stores have pieces in different colors or configurations. 

Custom Leather- You can see display models but choose almost any covering and configuration changes you’d like.


  • Endless choices-This leather is almost endlessly customizable. You can pick different colors, grades of leather, types of leather and even shape the piece for any configuration of a room.  If you want a 4 cushion sofa instead of the normal 3 cushion for an extra wide space, you can probably customize it.
  • The right fit for your lifestyle-  By choosing any grade of leather, and by reading the information on this site, you can choose a leather grade that is just right for your lifestyle.  As we’ve already discussed, lower to middle grades can be just right for an active family lifestyle.  Want an  exquisite butter-soft high grade of leather,you can do that too.
  • Often good sales staff-  Many times custom leather outlets focus on good customer service and will educate you correctly about what type of leather to buy.  Of course, read the last section to learn leather and keep them honest.


  • Wait time-  Often custom leather furniture takes a while because each piece is constructed to your specifications.  This process can take weeks to months to complete.  Ask in advance how long the process will take to prepare to wait for your custom leather
  • Difficult replacement-  Because your piece is custom and not a stock piece, it will be difficult to replace if it is damaged.  Also, many stores have more strict return policies on custom purchases, so ask about them in advance.
  • Variations from piece to piece-  Each piece of leather,especially in higher grades, will be unique. Many times the leather is hand-crafted and will be well made but not the same from piece to piece like a machine crafted product.  Also the leather may have scars, markings and normal variations that you may not see on the floor display.

     So look on the website or ask your furniture store if they sell stock pieces, floor only pieces, custom pieces or a combination of these options.  Then, knowing the pro’s and con’s of each will prepare you to get the leather that is just right for you.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 January 2010 21:30
Need to Spend Big $ to Get Great Leather Furniture? (NO) PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Thursday, 31 December 2009 13:46


Customers will often ask me how much they need to spend to get good leather sofa. In short, I respond that most people don’t want to buy the cheapest leather sofa nor do they want to buy a very expensive leather sofa. 

The middle price-point is most often the best

Certainly there are exceptions to this general rule but here are some general leather price-point lessons I have learned over the years that will help you spend well:

Lesson #1 Really cheap is NOT worth it!

You will usually find really cheap leather at a store that sells bulk cereal, discount electronics and leather furniture (Which should be your first clue!)

It can cost anywhere from a few hundred to over $1000 dollars. 

Buying the cheapest leather you can find is a bad idea for a number of reasons. 

  • First, cheap leather usually conceals a cheap frame and cheap pillow cores and filling. These things may actually wear out before your leather does and cost much to repair. 
  • Second, cheap leather can often be made of a combination of leather and vinyl.  Leather where you touch and vinyl everywhere else (sides, back).  
  • Third, bi-cast leather is usually sold at the low end of the price-points.  It is mostly bad news, weak and wears out in many different ways.
  • Finally, cheap leather is probably finished cheaply.  I mean the color and topcoat applied to the leather is done poorly.  This leather can crack, peel and rub off in just a year or two. 

In conclusion, don't buy the cheapest leather sofa you can find… but don't necessarily buy the most expensive one either (see lesson #2) 

Lesson#2:  Expensive doesn’t mean durable.

Often a very expensive leather sofa is less durable than the middle price-point leather sofa. 

 It is often either called aniline, nu buck, semi-aniline or butter-soft leather. 

Though it looks and feels great in the showroom, it will not wear well for most lifestyles.  The absorbant nature of this leather will suck in oils, liquids and other stains.  Once these stains have set in, they are uncleanable. 

So if you have pets, children or lots of parties, save some of your money and buy a mid-grade leather sofa like I describe in lesson #3.   

I reccomend you have a professional apply a leather protection spray to your high-grade leather.  Contact me with any questions about this service at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Also a leather protection product can be applied to higher grades of leather to make them somewhat more durable.  These products will slightly darken your leather but protect the surface from stains.  SG-25 or SG-50 are the products we recommend.  Click here to see these products if you have a higher grade leather.

Lesson #3: Buy a middle priced leather sofa from a reputable furniture store.

I suggest for long-term durability that you buy either a good middle-grade finished or pull-up leather sofa.

You will spend anywhere from around $1500-$3000 for a good leather sofa.

I also suggest you go to a reputable furniture store where the salesperson can give you good information on your purchase. 

You will want to find a mid-priced leather furniture for a number of reasons.  

  • First, most mid-level leather furniture is well tanned and finished.  The color will not just crack, peel or wear off with normal use. 
  • Second, most mid-level furniture has been constructed with solid guts (the frame, foam core, stitching, ect.. are going to hold up) 
  • Finally, a mid-priced finished or pull-up leather will clean up well.
  • Finished leather will remain closer to like-new.  Pul-up leather will patina as you use it.

Again, there are certainly exceptions to these price-point lessons. So, if you have questions about a certain leather furniture you are looking to buy, as me This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Click here for the local Baltimore/Washington stores I have worked with for many years and recommend for you to buy a great leather sofa.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 July 2010 10:25
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