The first thing to keep in mind when you are purchasing leather is “top grain”. This means that it is the top layer of the hide and not a piece of the underside of the hide. Top grain leather material has strength and durability which is important if you are considering keeping this piece of furniture for years to come. The unfortunate truth of the manufacturing industry is that they have successfully created what appears to be real leather while it actually is a blend of synthetic materials. It is important to look out for anything that is described as “leatherette, leather blend, vinyl, or leather feel”.
Leather is graded like diamonds, the fewer the flaws the higher the grade. Material flaws include pock marks, scars, or general imperfections in the hides. The higher the grade the more delicate it is, although high grade hides have a gorgeous feel they are easily scratched, stained and marked. Lower grade hides, because of the color coating, tend to be much more durable, which are excellent choices for a sofa in front of the TV.
If you want leather furniture to last make sure that the entire piece is leather, which means every part of your piece is leather. Manufacturers often add vinyl or leather to the outside panels, or the cushion boxing to cut costs. But it typically will not hold up as well as the leather, and will deteriorate well before the leather does, causing the piece to be unfixable and useless.