Signature Logo Apr2015 

If you read our Types of Leather article, you’ll know that we at Signature Leather feel that Bonded Leather is inferior in quality for furniture, but what is Bonded Leather in actuality?

Bonded leather, also called reconstituted leather or blended leather, is a term used for a man-made upholstery material. It is made by shredding leather scraps and leather fiber, then mixing it with bonding materials. The mixture is next extruded onto a fiber cloth, or paper backing, and the surface is usually embossed with a leather-like texture or grain. Color and patterning, if any, are a surface treatment that does not penetrate like a dyeing process would. The natural leather fiber content of bonded leather varies. The manufacturing process is somewhat similar to the production of paper.

Lower-quality materials may suffer flaking of the surface material in a short period of time. Because the composition of bonded leathers and related products varies considerably, it may be difficult to predict how a given product will perform over the course of time. 

 Peeling Bonded Leather

Peeling of Bonded Leather after only a short period of time

There are two major drawbacks that can occur with Bonded Leather that really makes us feel it is inferior, especially when it comes to furniture. Outgassing and "sweating" of plasticizers and other chemicals may occur from poorly formulated products. Most importantly, though is the fact that Bonded Leather is difficult or impossible to repair or recondition after wear or damage. 

We at Signature Leather do not sell Bonded Leather for all the reasons above. We only sell quality leather furniture from quality manufacturers that will last you for many years to come. 

If you read our Types of Leather article earlier, you’ll know that we at Signature Leather feel that Bicast Leather is inferior in quality for everyday use. Bicast Leather is sometimes referred to as 100% leather or genuine leather, but that simply isn’t the truth. So, what is Bicast leather in actuality?

Bicast leather (also known as bi-cast leather, bycast leather, or PU leather, sometimes described as split leather) is a material made with a split leather backing covered with a layer of polyurethane that is applied to the surface and then embossed. Bicast was originally made for the apparel industry for glossy shoes, and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product has an artificially consistent texture that is easier to clean and maintain, as is the case with most plastic materials. With natural leather, the strength and durability comes from the outer layer of the hide. Because bi-cast is a polyurethane-coated split (inner layer), it cannot be considered equal to conventional leather as it lacks the strength and durability of the natural product. 

 Bycast leather peeling

Peeling of Bycast Leather after a short period of time is a common occurance

The use of terms like "genuine leather" or "100% leather" in relation to bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in some countries, including the UK, Denmark, and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with aniline leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use, the polyurethane layer may crack and split free of its backing, and abrasion may cause large unsightly marks, which end up being practically unrepairable. 

Bicast leather has the visual aesthetics of natural top-grain leather, but at much less cost; so it appears very attractive to the consumer. Bicast leather simply does not have the life expectancy of natural leather. Its structural integrity can be shockingly short-lived especially when compared to natural leather.

We at Signature Leather do not sell Bicast Leather for all the reasons above. We only sell quality leather furniture from quality manufacturers that will last you for many years to come.

Leather is durable, cleanable, and its beauty improves with age.  There’s no better investment for furniture since leather, on average, lasts four times longer than fabric. Leather’s natural breathable quality makes it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Leather is also organic material.  Like all organic products, the more natural and untreated, the softer the hand and more imperfections you may see. Some distinctive character marks you may see include stretch marks, wrinkles, graining, and variations of color that occur because of variable hide thickness.  These marks are not flaws, but rather part of the beauty of nature.

Leather will last for decades with the proper care and cleaning.  In addition to this guide, refer to the care instructions that are provided with your furniture.

- Under normal usage/conditions, regular dry-cloth dusting and vacuum cleaning in crevices or along the bottom is all that is necessary to clean your furniture.

Leather Swatches

- The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months.

- Protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.

 

Leather will last for decades with the proper care and cleaning.  In addition to this guide, refer to the care instructions that are provided with your furniture.


- Under normal usage/conditions, regular dry-cloth dusting and vacuum cleaning in crevices or along the bottom is all that is necessary to clean your furniture.
- The use of a good leather conditioner is recommended every 6-12 months.
- Protect your furniture from sun and direct light. Like any upholstery  material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun.

 

SUGGESTED METHODS OF CLEANING:

- Always try any cleaning method in a hidden area first to convince yourself of the results. 
- For minor spots and spills, wipe up any excess liquid immediately with a clean absorbent cloth or sponge. If necessary, use a lightly moistened soft cloth with clean lukewarm water, and let it air dry naturally. If water is used, clean the entire area where the spot occurred.

 

Leather Cleaning Kit

Leather Cleaning Kit: $25.99

- Do not use soap or soak the stain heavily with water. This may cause more damage than the stain itself. If the stain persists, we recommend that a professional leather specialist clean the leather to avoid any potential damage to the leather itself.
- For butter, oil, or grease stains, wipe off excess with a clean dry cloth, and then leave alone as the spot should dissipate into the leather after a short period of time.
- For minor or slight scratches on the surface, use a chamois or clean fingers to gently buff the scratch. If needed, moisten lightly with distilled water to work scratches out.
- Remember that leather is a natural product and requires some care to maintain the natural beauty of the hide.
- Do not use saddle soap, cleaning solvents, furniture polish, oils, varnish, abrasive cleaners, detergent soaps or ammonia water.

You can buy our Leather Cleaning Kit for only $25.99! Call our store at (201) 612-1001 to place an order!

Leather is graded by the size, location and extent of the natural blemishes like wrinkles and scars that are inherent in all natural hides.

These hides are separated into layers. The top layer is known as the top grain. If you were to examine the top layer under a microscope, you would see fibers running in all directions, making the top grain layer of the hide very strong.Whereas Full Grain leather is made of layers 2 and 3, Top Grain leather is the upper 2 "skin” layer, with the lower 3 “split” removed. It’s thinner without the split and also more pliable, but still 100% high quality leather. Top Grain leather is very commonly used in higher-end furniture production, because it’s still durable like Full Grain leather, but more affordable because less-perfect hides are used, so Top Grain leather is produced at a higher volume. 

Since hides used for Top Grain leather have more blemishes and irregularities than Full Grain, part of the production process includes sanding the surface of those flaws away, and then stamping a faux grain back onto the leather, so that the final piece appears flawless.

 
Full Grain and Top Grain Leathers

There’s a vast range of quality and price within top grain leathers, and what’s best for one may not be best for others. Part of leather furniture’s great appeal is luxurious comfort. The finest of top grain leathers will have the softest feel, but may not be as desirable if ease of care is important to you. They tend to be a little more temperamental.

 Finally, no matter how well it is cared for, all upholstered furniture will fade with time and exposure to light and heat so it's important to keep that in mind. 

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