If you have seen our Types of Leather article, we’ve described the various types of leather that is used to make furniture, including split leather and you’ll have seen that we recommend against using split leather for everyday use. To understand why, we have to look at what split leather is and where it comes from.
In our article about top grain leather, we said that leather hides are separated into layers — specifically two. The top layer is what’s used in top grain leather and is the highest quality. The bottom layer that is left, then, is what is referred to as split leather. Before being used on sofas, split leather has an imitation leather grain embossed onto its surface, to give it a more natural appearance.
Although split leather is commonly used for suede, and even though it can be sanded down and embossed with a graining pattern to make it look like natural leather, most good manufacturers do not use split leather for upholstery at all. Split leather may have other uses, but because it is made of the lower layer of the hide, it is much weaker and less durable than top grain leather.
Sofas that use split leathers are not recommended for heavy use and we do not recommend it even on the outside back or sides of a sofa