Leather Upholstery - A Terms Glossary
Aniline dyes - Aniline dyes are used on only the highest quality leathers. They are transparent and penetrate all the way through the thickness of the leather. The transparency allows the actual surface grain and markings of the natural leather to show.
Aniline leathers - Aniline leathers are those colored solely by aniline dyes. These transparent dyes leave the actual surface grain and such natural markings as wrinkles, bites and scars visible. Aniline leathers are the most natural and 'naked' and are therefore favored by leather lovers and purists the world over. No two aniline leathers are identical; each hide has its own characteristics. Aniline leathers are highly prized both for their luxurious softness and rich color. Because Aniline dyes do not coat the surface of the leather, they do leave it somewhat less protected than other dyes and treatments, As a result Aniline leathers are fairly vulnerable to spills and stains.
Semi-Aniline leathers - Semi-Aniline leathers are also colored by aniline dyes. As such the are also noted for their natural grain and softness. However semi-aniline leathers are treated with a clear sealant topcoat which has a slight sheen. This protective layer is thin enough that it does not obscure the grain, but serves to afford additional protection and color consistency. Semi-anilines are sometimes considered to be the best choice as they offer some degree of protection while still retaining the softness and natural character and beauty of the leather.
For Example: The Aniline Leather Barcelona Chair From Alphaville
Corrected leather or Embossed leather - Corrected leather or Embossed leather has been stamped to apply an even texture, simulating the grain of leather, but without the naturally uneven markings of uncorrected leathers (removes wrinkles, bites and scars). This allows leathers with too many markings to be corrected, making them more saleable, and also addresses a growing market for uniformity and consistency. Corrected leathers are often but not always lower in price than uncorrected leathers.
For Example: The Lily Leather Dining Chairs
Full grain leather - Full grain leather has not been corrected. The actual grain of the leather is intact. Only higher quality leathers with few imperfections can be used for this.
For Example: The Full Grain Italian Leather Barcelona Chair From Alphaville
Leather/Vinyl Combination - Leather/Vinyl Combination is a frame that combines a protected leather on the seat, back cushion and arms, with a matched vinyl on the back and sides for a sometimes significant price reduction. This allows for a genuine leather feel where you tend to come in contact with the chair or sofa. The matching of the vinyl has been greatly refined over the years, so that today they are extremely accurate - to the extent that differences are difficult to dicern at all. Furthermore the strengh of vinyl makes furniture more durable than ever.
Top-grain leather - Top-grain leather is the top layer of the hide. Top grains are the highest quality, most expensive and the strongest.
Waxed Anilines - Waxed Anilines are when waxes and oils are applied over aniline dyed leather for a rugged look. Waxed anilines patina beautifully and the wax adds a higher degree of protection than found in a pure aniline leather. Waxed leathers and Oil pull-up leathers often accumulate surface scuff marks that can be taken out, but are not recommended for people who are bothered by these marks.
Protected leathers or Pigmented leathers - Protected leathers or Pigmented leathers are aniline dyed hides that have a pigmented topcoat. The topcoat increases the leather's durability and color consistency, but also increases the stiffness a bit. People who like their leather furniture uniform and perfect as well as people who want more protection will enjoy this type of leather.
Specialty leathers - Specialty leathers are embossed (stamped) and /or pigmented to create a dramatic effect. For example, leather can be embossed and colored to simulate alligator or ostrich skin.
For Example: The Faux Ostrich skin leather bar stool from www.BarBazar.com
Nubuck or Buffed leathers - Nubuck or Buffed leathers are pure aniline hides which are buff brushed (sanded) for a slight nap effect. Not to be confused with suedes, Nubucks are top grain leathers and are much more serviceable and durable than suedes. Nubuck leathers are known for their sensuous appearance and soft feel, similar to velvet. The buffing removes the epidermis or hair cell layer making the leather soft but also vulnerable to spills and stains. This leather is recommended for accent pieces or living rooms where care is taken to preserve the leather.
Hand - Hand is the degree of softness and natural feel that the leather has.
Patina - Patina is the desirable and natural aging effect or breaking-in of the leather that deepens its color and softness. It also highlights the natural grain of the leather. Patina happens most noticeably in aniline and waxed aniline leathers.