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Furniture Upholstery

Q & A Leather, Faux Leather and Vinyl

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

This article will help inform readers about Leather, Faux Leather and Vinyl Fabrics. Our goal is to come up with as many questions and answers that can help the reader learn and decide what fabric they want for their furniture.

Real Leather

Q. How many kinds of Leather is there?

A. Cowhide is cut into two equal sections which are top grain and split hide leather.

Q. What is Top Grain Leather?

A. After they cut that side slab of leather from the hide, a cows hide is very thick. So thick that they put it into a machine and actually split the hide once or twice. That gives the leather a uniform thickness. The outside part, the side that had the hair on it, is the top part, or top grain. It’s also the strongest part of the hide.

Q. What is Split Hide Leather?

A. The layer under the top one is the split leather. Split hide leather is slightly thicker and rougher to the touch. But it looks great and is often used on the sides and backs of furniture.

Q. Is Top Grain Leather durable?

A. Genuine top grain leather lasts 4 times longer than most fabrics and resists scratches.

Q. Is Split Leather durable?

A. This layer is not as strong as the top one and is often pressed with a design to make that natural leather texture in it.

Q. What is Full Grain Leather?

A. The top part of the hide is what was exposed to the elements. This part has all the natural blemishes that nature gave it. Nicks, healed wounds, and the natural leather texture. A full grain leather means they have done nothing to hide those, leaving them just as they are with no sanding or smoothing. This way makes it the strongest and shows off the natural beauty of the leather.

Q. What is Buffed, Embossed or Plated Leather?

A. When a hide has a few too many markings on it, they sand the hide just like they do wood. That leaves it smoother and more uniform. It also makes it a bit more weaker. Sometimes they stamp the leather with a design to try to restore that natural leather texture that was lost by sanding.

Vinyl Fabric

Q. How come the vinyl in my restaurant or home furniture becomes brittle and cracked?

A. When booth seats are cleaned with a degreaser or other harsh chemicals it draws the plasticizers out of the vinyl, thus wearing it out prematurely.

Q. Can cracked/brittle vinyl be fixed?

A. No. The vinyl material will have to be replaced.

Q. What is the best way to clean Vinyl?

It is best to clean vinyl with mild soap and water only, on a routine basis. This will help the vinyl last a longer time.

Q. What is the difference between marine vinyl and regular vinyl?

Marine Vinyl and standard vinyl are really the same thing, except marine-grade vinyl has two extra features. It has additional UV protection to prevent the color from fading in sunlight. And it also has antibacterial and antifungal additives to make it mildew resistant.

Q. What is Vinyl made of?

The skin is made of PVC and it's how the skin is made that determines whether the material is considered marine grade vinyl or regular vinyl. When the outer skin is made, additional additives are used to make the material marine grade vinyl.

Q. What is the backing of Vinyl made of?

It is usually a knitted polyester fabric, but it can also have a fuzzy backing. This layer is very important as it gives the vinyl extra durability and helps to prevent it from tearing. The backing also impacts the stretch of the vinyl. If the backing is woven slightly further apart it allows the vinyl to stretch further and be more flexible.

Q. Is Automotive/Marine Vinyl durable?

Marine vinyl fabric is durable, weatherproof, and easy to clean. Regular vinyl is durable and easy to clean. It comes in a variety of types, textures, and colors and is used for a wide array of applications, all while maintaining great durability.

Q. How about mixing Fabrics & Vinyl’s?

A. Vinyl on high contact areas such as arms, seats and putting fabric on inside & outside backs is a great choice. This is a nice combination that can make commercial furniture look more modernized, thus giving it a better look.

Bonded Leather

Q. What is Bonded Leather?

A. Bonded leather is made from the scraps of genuine leather that would otherwise be thrown away. These scraps are ground together that are adhered to a sheet of fibrous backing. The whole sheet is then coated with a polyurethane sealant and stamped to replicate the pattern of the grain.

Q. How to clean Bonded Leather?

A. Never use any harsh chemicals on bonded leather. They will strip the clear coating from the material. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe any debris from between cushions and to remove body oils and dirt. If the sofa is used heavily, you should thoroughly clean it at least once a week. Use a leather conditioner to help protect and preserve the surface.

Q. Why does bonded leather peel?

A. It is not a solid surface and with use, the bonding will fail. When the material is stretched, the pieces of leather will begin to separate, causing the unsightly peeling. Bonded leather peeling effect is the result of the tiny pieces of leather being pulled free of the backing and flaking off.

Q. How long will Bonded Leather last?

A. Different circumstances will determine the lifespan of your bonded leather couch. If you have children and pets using the furniture regularly, it will not last as long as a couch kept as guest seating. With proper care and gentle use, a bonded leather couch can last as long as two to three years without issues.

Q. Is there different names for Bonded Leather?

A. Bonded leather is also known by a few additional names. When looking at the tag on your furniture or clothing, look for: Bonded Leather, Leather-Soft, Faux Leather, Reconstituted, Composite, Leatherette.

Q. Is Bonded Leather durable?

A. Because of the way bonded leather is made, it is not as durable as leather and can easily scratch, peel, and flake over time.

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