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Have you ever been confused about the different Grades of leather?
Without an explanation from a competent leather furniture professional
(like you'll always find at Choice Leather Furniture), leather grading can be as mystifying
as diamond grading. Truth be told, it's much more difficult to understand than diamond grading.
No Standardized Grading Of Leather
Why, because there is no standardized grading of leather.
Leather Grades are used by factories to convey price and each factory selects their own means of grading. For example:
Factory A may use numbers; Factory B may use letters while Factory C chooses to grade their leathers with names.
Now, if that's not enough to get any sane consumer confused consider what happens when Factory X and Y both use numbers for grades.
Factory X offers 10 different grades of leather:
1 being the least desirable (and least expensive) and 10 being their most expensive leather (notice I did not say it was the most desirable). Just because it's the most expensive doesn't automatically make it the most desirable- especially when you factor in the way you'll use the leather - more on that later.
Factory Y also has 10 grades but they grade their leathers:
From 5 to 50 using 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. to 50.
Therefore, if you try to compare the leather numerically between these two factories you'll think a grade 5 is the same when it fact, it is a mid grade leather for one factory and the entry level grade for the other. You may think you're getting a superior value when you see Factory Y's price for a grade 5 leather but the reality is you're comparing apples to gourds, yet both are Grade 5 leathers. Who wouldn't be confused? More importantly, what can you do?
No Such Thing As Standardized Grading
Again, realize there is no such thing as standardized grading. The easiest way to get a handle on leathers is to break them into 3 categories represented by the acronym P.A.N.
P - Pigmented or Painted Leather
This represents protected, pigmented or painted leather.
This will be the least expensive leather because it has had more correction done to it than A or N leathers.
Here's an interesting fact, the more you do to leather the less it costs. Now that sounds backwards doesn't it? The reason is because, like a diamond, a hide in pristine condition is so rare that it commands a much greater price than the hide of a South Texas cow. The hide of a cow from our part of the world is in so bad of shape from being outside in the weather with the bugs, barbwire, etc. that it needs its entire surface "buffed" (sanded) then an artificial grain is embossed back into the hide to make it look like genuine leather. Don't let this example scare you away from P type leathers; you can get some that have very little (or no) artificial graining along with minimal paint or pigment. These leathers have a nice hand (feel) and still are very child and pet friendly (easy to clean), so they are ideal for your leather recliners, leather sofas, or other leather furniture.
A - Aniline Leather
Next is the A leathers, this stands for aniline which is a chemical that opens the pores of the hide to let a vegetable oil dye permeate completely through the leather. These can be the finest of leathers; however that doesn't always make them the right leather for your lifestyle. "A" leathers are more natural and unless you have an optional protection applied they can be hard to live with due to possible staining.
The P leathers are the easiest to keep and are perfect for an active family room. However, you can get what's called semi-aniline, this is an A leather with a very slight protective coating applied at the tannery. A good choice for anyone wanting better quality leather that will be used in an active room.
N - Nubuk Leather
N stands for Nubuk leather. Nubuk is the top grain (top grain means it's the side of the hide that once had hair) that has had a brushing device actually cut into the leather leaving it with a nap, very similar to velvet. This leather has virtually replaced suede, which is the backside of the hide and extremely fragile. Nubuk is more durable than suede but it's the least durable of the 3 types of leathers discussed here.
Be very careful using Nubuk in an active room for your leather chairs or leather furniture, it's very unforgiving. However, you can still purchase optional protection for Nubuk as well as protected and aniline leathers. Optional warranty protection packages are an excellent value and can give you a great deal of peace of mind.
There's no better value in home furnishings than leather furniture, if you get the right type of leather furniture for your lifestyle.
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