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Caring for Leather; If You Want Beautiful Leather, Do This

Caring For Your Leather - Leather Hero

This is it in a nutshell… well 11 nutshells. When it comes to caring for leather upholstery, these are the golden rules. Whether you have invested in leather furniture, a leather boat lounge, leather car seats or apparel, these essential guidelines show you how to get the best out of your investment.

Loyal, long-wearing leather is a robust and luxurious material; a premium choice owned for a premium price. It’s best to remember that whilst it is low-maintenance, it’s definitely not no-maintenance. Here are our tips for enjoying beautiful leather upholstery that lasts:

First-Aid for Leather 

  • Usually, a spill isn’t a stain until it has time to set in. Have the right products on hand for when accidents happen and you can forget it ever happened.
  • If the kids get creative with pens and textas, remove their masterpieces right away. The longer their artwork is displayed the more permanent it becomes. If that’s the case, remove the available pigments from the stain and recolour the area with a leather repair kit 

Keeping it Real When it Comes to Caring for Leather

  • Household products are a No-No. It simply isn’t worth the complications down the track so stick to leather care products and don’t be duped into using potentially damaging substitutes.
  • A light wipe over every 3 months is easy work. Leave it for a few years and the grime will have settled deep in the grain and will be much more difficult to remove.  A light clean every 3 to 6 months will keep your leather looking beautiful and in fine condition.
  • A light condition every three months helps to keep the luxury in your leather. Don’t overdo it, just do it regularly.
  • Science and nature have something to help you care for your leather. A good leather protector offers a wipe-on, breathable protective shield that improves cleanability, resists stains and blocks UV. Use it from Day 1 when your leather is in showroom condition and enjoy that lush new leather feeling for much longer.

Managing environmental factors

  • UV is no friend of leather. It quickly dries out the inner fibres and leaves your upholstery brittle and very ready to tear.
Caring for leather
When it comes to caring for leather, misinformation and mysteries abound. Stick to these 11 truths to ensure that leather upholstery stays beautiful for longer. 
  • Air vents and heaters can silently evaporate the moisture balance from your leather leaving it parched and brittle. Take care to place them apart.
  • High humidity, rising damp or storing leather whilst still damp can create the perfect environment for mould spores to flourish. Good natural airflow and complete drying will help to prevent mould and mildew.

Call in the Leather Professionals

  • The oldie truism says it all; “A stitch in time saves nine”. Small rips only grow bigger. Our tip? repair or have them repaired before they deteriorate.
  • For some, a yearly service is too much, for others, it’s very much needed. Some sofas work day and night, others are seldom used showpieces. Some homes have pets or children, some recliners are occupied every day, some sofas are in busy hotel foyers and others are in a spare room that’s only inhabited by guests at Christmas. The same goes for car and boat seats and lounges. Whatever the usage, if you don’t get around to a 3 monthly once-over, have your leather professional do it for you.

In conclusion, neglected leather is unpleasant to live with and tends to perish early. Well maintained leather, on the other hand, lasts around 3 times longer. And while it does that, it looks and feels beautiful.

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What type of leather do I have? Take the quiz now

What type of leather? semi-aniline - Leather Hero

Let’s look at the main types of leather used in furniture upholstery and their key features. When it comes to caring for upholstery leathers, it’s important to know what type of leather you have before selecting your leather care products. That’s because each finish tolerates and benefits from different cleaners, conditioners and colourants. Using the wrong product may expose your leather to the risk of damage, unwanted changes or provide less than optimal results. So, how can you find out what leather you have when your memories and receipt have faded? There are a couple of quick checks you can make to unearth the missing information.

  • Look for a product tag. Check the underside of the sofa, the lower backrest seam or the bottom of a cushion for a descriptive tag. If you are in luck, it may list the type of leather and your search is over.
  • Search online for the same model. If you know the manufacturer, brand and model and it’s still in production, you may be able to verify the leather type via an online search. If you only know the store, they may also be able to help.

Types of Leather

In the absence of an informative label, identifying one leather from another requires a process of elimination. Although there are countless leather and leather finishing variants in use around the world, when it comes to upholstery leather, most fit into 1 of 5 main types:

  1. Aniline and Semi-aniline
  2. Pigmented
  3. Nubuck and Suede
  4. Waxed or Pull-up
  5. Man-made

Each type of leather has broadly typical characteristics. Use this quiz to help identify your leather.

IMG_2344
If fingernail scratches leave a mark
and
water absorbs quickly...
IMG_2344 - copy
Your leather may be
ANILINE or SEMI-ANILINE
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Aniline & semi-aniline

Aniline leather is “unfinished”. With little or no protection from topcoat layers, it tends to show scratches and absorb water quickly. Aniline leather is usually drum dyed. The colour passes right through the hide from the front to back. Popular shades include tan, brown and mahogany. Luxuriously soft and warm to touch, anilines may display naturally irregular grain, blemishes, wrinkles and creases. Semi-aniline leathers are a more practical version of this premium leather type. They are semi-protected by light layers of colour and topcoats which lend serviceability. Use Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit to keep you aniline upholstery looking its best.

IMG_3050
If it is water resistant
and
the finish is a solid opaque colour
or painted effect...
IMG_3050 - copy
Your leather may be
PIGMENTED
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Pigmented

Pigmented leather is the most common leather type found in family homes and cars today. If your sofa is opaque monochromatic red, black, blue, white, stone, chocolate or any other solid colour, it is more than likely, upholstered in pigmented leather. This practical material is finished with layers of protective colour and topcoats that lend a degree of water and stain resistance. In addition, manufacturers use transparent pigments and dyes to create special painted finishes such as antiquing.  The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is ideal for maintaining pigmented leather.

IMG_3050
If it's water resistant
and
the finish is a solid opaque colour
or painted effect...
IMG_3050 - copy
Your leather may be
PIGMENTED
nubuck
If it has a nap or pile
and
it's warm and velvety to touch...
nubuck - copy
Your leather may be
NUBUCK or SUEDE
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Nubuck & suede

These leathers are relatively easy to distinguish as a result of their luxurious plush hand (feel under touch). Nubuck and suede are ‘unfinished’ or ‘unprotected’ types of leather. This means that they have no barrier to soiling, spills and stains. Often made in soft warm whites through to rich tans and browns, these leathers require specific care to maintain their beauty.  Choose from Leather Hero’s range of Nubuck, Suede & Aniline leather care products to make your leather look great and last longer.

IMG_4423
If it's water resistant
and
the finish has a burnished patina of
creases and cracks that give a distressed look...
IMG_4423 - copy
Your leather may be
WAXED or PULL-UP
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Waxed or pull-up

During the finishing and upholstery processes, a tapestry of light coloured fault lines forms on Pull-up leather. These beautiful random striations add character and appeal. Waxed leather tends to be water resistant and often comes in the ‘natural’ earth tones of tan and brown.  If you have a waxed leather sofa the Leather Hero Waxed Leather Care Kit contains your must-have leather care products.

IMG_5084 (2)
If the underside is woven
and /or
it smells like plastic
and/or
the pores are in a regular pattern...
IMG_5084 (2) - copy
Your leather may be
MAN-MADE
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Man-made

Bonded, split, PU, faux and vinyl are man-made materials. Although they are not technically types of leather, they are commonly used in upholstery and often referred to as ‘leather’. Bonded and split leather both contain some leather components but are heavily processed to render a viable product. In fact, leather may be a minor ingredient in the final product. The other ‘leathers’ are synthetic versions that mimic the real thing. Manufactured from plastics and fabrics, sometimes the underside looks woven, other times not. Smell is usually a good differentiator as are unnaturally regular pores. The Leather Hero Leather Care Kit is perfect for keeping these materials clean, soft and protected from soiling and stains.

Choosing Leather Care Products

What’s good for one type of leather may not be good for the next. There is a myriad of leather finishes and each has unique needs. It’s tempting to always go for the strongest leather care product to make light work of the task. Consider this; a waxy polish might be ideal for waxed leather whilst creating unwelcome changes on suede leather. A far better choice is to use leather care products that are developed for each type of leather. This minimises the risk of damage and ensure that you achieve the best possible results. No matter what type of leather you have, remember that you want excellent short-term and long-term results.Avoid home-made and cheap leather care products. Stick with professional grade solutions and give your leather upholstery the care it needs.

Your leather upholstery doesn’t need much from you but it will respond generously to the right care.  You can easily choose the right product for your job now that you are armed with the right information about the types of leather most commonly used in furniture upholstery today.