A sofa or chair is not just a piece of furniture – it is a haven to escape to. Every sofa, chair and ottoman we build is crafted in high quality materials designed to withstand the various stresses to which it is subjected during its working life. Each range design is expertly matched to selected hides to give the ultimate combination of style and comfort. To ensure your sofa will be with you for years to come, it is important to understand leather upholstery to appreciate the quality and unique characteristics and understand the care and maintenance that is required.
Understanding Genuine Upholstery Leather
Soft, supple and highly durable, leather is a versatile and universally popular upholstery cover for furniture. The best quality upholstery leathers breathe and feel cool in summer and warm during winter. The hides are made ready for upholstery by tanning, which is a series of treatments that soften, pigment, beautify and protect the hides. Freedom offer three basic types of genuine upholstery leather, each has differing performance and a distinctive look and feel.
Hallmarks of Natural Leather
- Full grain leather:Full Grain leathers are made from the strong, top-grain (surface) layer of the cattle hide. These hides often show their natural growth marks or scars, with subtle or more pronounced variations in markings depending on the leather finishing treatments. Unblemished hides that show off their natural characteristics is a sign you are investing in the best leather, that looks even better with age, with the most sought after quality and value.
- Corrected grain leather:Corrected Grain leather uses the strong top-grain layer from quality cattle hide. These hides may have irregularities (such as excessive markings, scars, insect bites, etc.) which are lightly buffed, sanded and filled to achieve a more even look. A uniform grain pattern is then embossed into the leather and finished to enhance look and wear, resulting in an excellent value for money day-to-day, kid-friendly furniture cover.
- Split leather:Selected designs use leather “splits” on the backs and sides. These “splits” are genuine cattle hide taken from just under the stronger top grain layer. While not as strong as full or corrected grain leathers, modern tanning techniques are used to match the look of premium top grains while maximising the yield from the cattle hide to produce an economical alternative to top grain leather.
Just as no two fingerprints are alike, each piece of leather is distinctive in its markings. These markings add beauty to the leather and serve as proof of its authenticity. Leather hides may show slight colour and grain variation, and will develop character over time. With regular use, leather fibres will relax and comfort creases may form in areas that received the most contact. These are signs of the leather's authenticity and should be no cause for concern.
Good Looks Need to be Maintained
Prior to your Freedom product leaving the factory, it will receive a final inspection. It will then be wrapped in order to protect it and minimise movement whilst in transit. Once unpacked, leather sofas may require “dressing”. This is quite normal and very easy to perform using the following steps:
- Plump up the back cushions and arm pads of each sofa
- Ease the leather gently into shape with the palms of your hands
- Spread the leather across the seat cushions in the same way
- Give the sofa time to “warm up” and relax (this may take a few days in a warm room)
Most leathers used on upholstered furniture have a clear top coat sealer which helps protect the colour and stops the leather from drying out. If dirt, grime and perspiration are left to build up on the surface of your furniture, this protective top coat can wear away, severely reducing the life of your leather. The following tips will help you care for your leather furniture and add years of life, while enjoying it every day:
A Quality Sofa Doesn't Wear Out, It Wears In
- Sunlight can fade the colour in your leather. Keep away from direct sunlight.
- Heat can shrink leather. Keep your leather furniture away from direct heat sources like fire places and heaters.
- Keep direct, dust and food spill off the surface. It's especially important that you don't allow grime to build up in folds and seams. Avoid using any other cleaning products other than the ones recommended as part of the Accident Care Plan. The use of other products may void your Plan and can harm or even damage the surface finish.
- Be aware that some medication (specifically heart medication, blood pressure, chemotherapy and diabetes tablets) can be excreted through the pores and may damage the surface coating of your leather. Take measures to protect your leather from prolong direct exposure if you or any persons using the furniture are taking such medication.
- Excessive exposure to high levels of body perspiration can damage the surface coating of your leather. If your leather is going to be exposed to excessive perspiration ensure that it is cleaned more frequently.
If your new Freedom sofa feels or looks a little different to the one you saw in the store (the seat may feel firmer; the leather might look tighter), that’s because your furniture is brand new, unlike the store’s floor sample which may have already been well “run-in” by many visitors. Like a new pair of shoes with regular use your new furniture will gradually begin to adapt to your expectations. Your leather sofa will relax into a more casual appearance over time. During the first few weeks of use comfort creases and wrinkles will naturally form in the leather to give a soft an inviting look that is an inherent feature of leather upholstery.Leather Upholstery Care Tips
Correct care will extend your furniture’s life and value. Leather is a natural product and each hide is unique so variations in colour and texture are recognised as a feature, not a fault. Although leather is one of the oldest and most durable upholstery materials, it still needs regular, correct care and cleaning to maintain its natural beauty and extend the life of your leather upholstered furniture. Different leather finishes require different care products – to work out which leather best suits your lifestyle and home, consult a furniture sales specialist at your closest store and follow our tips below.
- Regularly clean and moisturise leather upholstery to maintain its appearance. In extreme climates you’ll need to moisturise the leather more often. Check the care label on your furniture for more information.
- Clean, condition and protect your furniture with Freedom care products (or similar water based cleaning product) every three months or more frequently with high use, to remove dirt and gradual accumulation of household grime, body oil and perspiration. Check the care label on your furniture and follow the easy usage instructions that accompany the care products for more information.
- Vacuum regularly with a soft upholstery attachment. Wipe over the leather with a damp, soft, clean cloth weekly. Dirt and grime can act as an abrasive and wear away on leather.
- Rotate or reverse cushions regularly, where the design permits. Do this once a month to minimise wear from ‘favourite chair syndrome’, this is where more obvious soil build up on the most frequently used seat or seats.
- Feather and down cushions have excellent recovery, but much like down comforters or pillows, they need to be fluffed more frequently to restore their loft.
- Wipe up water spills straight away, don’t let it soak in. Water based stains will leave a mark. Unprotected aniline leathers will rapidly absorb spills and stains.
- Clean up food spills straight away. Food oils can permanently bond with the leather.
- Use floor protectors on the bottom of furniture (like tables and chairs) to minimise damage to floor coverings.
- Keep pets and sharp or heavy objects away from your leather furniture.
- Treat spots, spills and stains immediately before it can absorb into the leather. Do not rub - carefully soak up the spillage by gently ‘blotting’ with a clean, dry, absorbent cloth in circular movement, working from the outside to the centre.
- To keep the warranty valid, use only Freedom recommended leather care and cleaning products every 8 to 12 weeks.
- Do not place leather furniture near direct light or heaters. Heat can shrink, fade or damage the leather. Maintain at least 30cm between your sofa and a heat source.
- Try not to get body oils on the leather, as they can oxidise and change the colour of the leather. Special care is also required if anyone sitting on the furniture is taking medication.
- Do not move the sofa by pushing, pulling, dragging or lifting by the armrests. Carefully lift from the base when moving it around the home and never drag.
- Do not sit on the arms and/or the back of the sofa. This causes premature wear and may distort the padding under the leather.
- Do not jump or throw yourself onto the sofa.
Whilst leather is durable it does need care to help prevent damage from drying out and fading. Most leathers used on upholstered furniture have a clear top coat sealer which helps protect the colour and stops the leather from drying out. If dirt, grime and perspiration are left to build up on the surface of your furniture, this protective top coat can wear away, severely reducing the life of your leather. A full clean and condition with Freedom’s Leather Care Kit every three months will keep your leather sofa in tip-top shape, while investing in a Leather Protection Plan is a wise choice for long-lasting maintenance.