Different Types of Leather
Different Types of Leather.
Leather is a natural, porous material, produced in three different ways and each has its own specific cleaning and maintenance requirements.
Here are the main types:-
The majority of leather furniture and car upholstery produced currently is made using pigmented leather, making up over 90% of the market. Pigmented leather is the most durable. Pigmented leather is produced by applying a pigment, quite often two colours, to produce a 'two tone' or 'antique' effect. Single colours are often seen in cream, beige or light green. Two tone or antique are commonly two shades of brown or red and black. The pigmented surface is then protected with an application of protective flexible lacquer called a polymer to increase the life and durability of the coloured surface.
Aniline Dyed Leather
This leather is the most natural looking, with its natural characteristics remaining visible. For example, any scars or skin blemishes the animal may have had. Aniline leather is only coloured with a dye and does not have any top coating. It is produced by submersing the raw leather into a dye solution in order to alter the colour to the required shade. Because the dyed leather is still porous and able to absorb stains and spillages, usually but not always, some form of protective layer is applied.
Usually, this protective layer is quite fine and tends to wear off quickly in high usage areas. For this reason, aniline dyed leather should be considered high maintenance as it is important to maintain a non-porous surface if you wish to avoid permanent spots and marks.
It is difficult to give hard and fast advice regarding upkeep of dyed leather and we would always advise seeking professional advice if you want to keep your leather in good condition.
Semi-Aniline is more durable than aniline leather, whilst still having the natural look. It is still dyed, but now it has a pigmented coating lightly sprayed on top, this would help it to look more of solid colour and slightly stain resistant.
The categories outlined above are guidelines. In today’s market, there are plenty of examples that do not happily fit into one single category and are usually described as ‘cross-over’ leathers, such as a bi-cast leather. Bi-cast is made from split leather and is commonly used on dining room chairs. It has a glossy finish and if it rips you can see all the fibres underneath. Bi-cast is not natural like leather and therefore does not have the durability and strength of leather. Determining the exact nature of a particular leather is most important prior to beginning cleaning or restoration work. Don't worry if you can't identify the particular leather type of your upholstery, our upholstery expert here at Derwent Cleaning Services will be on hand to do that prior to making any commitment to clean.