Leather Selections at La-Z-Boy
April 25, 2022
Est Reading Time: 9 Mins
You don't normally see leather furniture covers as often as fabric in a home. Why is that?
Is it because it's out of fashion? Has it lost its touch? Is it slowly fading away into nothingness? Well, not exactly. See, leather was a very common purchase amongst family households when the modern trend emerged in the mid-1900s.
Everyone loved it because it was durable, sustainable, and overall stylish. These are the same reasons why people choose to buy leather today.
At La-Z-Boy, we offer a wide range of living room furniture that looks stunning with leather upholstery. With this, we have multiple types of leather to choose from, each with its own charm, as well as unique benefits.
This article will discuss everything that La-Z-Boy has to offer, in terms of leather. From how it is made, to the benefits of owning leather, and how different the price is compared to fabric furniture products.
In This Article…
- What Is Leather?
- Types of Leather at La-Z-Boy
- Benefits of Leather
- Is La-Z-Boy Leather Right for You?
What is Leather?
Before we dive into the leather selection at La-Z-Boy, let’s discuss what leather is in general.
This section will provide an explanation including the process of how leather upholstery is made.
Leather is a material that is obtained through certain animal skins. The hides of most cattle, sheep, goats and other animals are used to make leather furniture. Some animals you may not even think of, like ostriches and stingrays, also contribute to leather creation.
Leather was first used by humans around 1,000 BC when they thought woven textiles weren’t enough to counter the harsh weather conditions. Now, people use it for various purposes, sometimes for vanity, but mostly because it has a longer shelf-life than fabric.
Believe it or not, Leather is considered to be one of the most durable, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials available that is used for furniture.
The Process of Creating Leather
When leather is made, it goes through different stages of manufacturing, before it is considered perfect for design purposes.
Only one-third of the hides produced in the world are suitable for furniture upholstery. Whole hides that feature just minimal imperfections are required, and only about 5 percent of the supply meets the aesthetic qualities demanded.
Leather is first brought to a tannery, where it is tanned to preserve its look. After soaking it to remove the hair that is still on the hide, most hides are then split into layers of thickness.
Raw leather is split into two different portions:
- The upper portion is called the top grain. This portion is rough in texture and is considered the most valuable part of the hide, due to its thicker quality. It is also more durable than other leathers and is less likely to get damaged.
- The bottom portion is called the split. This portion is less rough than the top grain and is more susceptible to damage, unlike its tougher counterpart. Split grain leather does not have the same qualities as top-grain leather, which means it has more opportunities to get embossed, pressed smooth, and painted into other colours, which we will get to later.
*La-Z-Boy only uses top grain leather for our products because it creates more aesthetically pleasing and durable leathers.
After inspection, leather hides are shaved for uniformity, and natural oils are used to replenish the hides to prevent any cracking, flaking, peeling, and tearing, even along seam lines. They are then stretched and dried again to ensure they have maximum elasticity.
Up to this point, most hides undergo the same tanning and conditioning processes. Any further processes are considered "finishing," which determines what type of leather the hide will become.
All leathers also go through a dyeing process through a drum dye method. Leathers are immersed in a full bucket of dye and are rotated to ensure the whole hide is covered.
Types of Leather
Aniline dye is a translucent water-based dye without any added pigments. The lack of pigmentation means the leather is porous and feels natural, but its absorbency makes it prone to stains. The dyeing process accentuates variations in the fibre, such as natural grains, pores, and markings, a testament to its authenticity.
Slight colour variations are usually exhibited throughout the hide since dye absorption may differ in various parts, much like wood varies when stained.
Often referred to as semi-aniline, a small amount of pigment or finish is added, which allows the hide's natural characteristics to still show through while offering some of the benefits of colour consistency and increased cleanability.
Leather is still soft and warm and feels very natural due to the less intense coating and the absence of compression of the leather fibres due to further processing.
After aniline dying, this top grain leather moves on to a finishing process of gentle buffing and polishing that removes the top cell layer. The effect is a whisper-soft nap that resembles suede but is stronger and better quality as suede is made from split leather (flesh side of hiding).
Buffing only slightly obscures the hide's colour variations and natural markings. A wax or topical coating may be applied during finishing for protection. Nubuck is less thick than aniline leather and is susceptible to fading and soiling.
Leathers may also undergo additional processing and colouration, creating corrected/pigmented leather. These are leathers with artificial graining achieved by removing the natural markings through sanding or buffing. Then an artificial grain is embossed onto the hide, resulting in a consistent grain and coloration, which some customers desire.
In addition, the surface is generally sprayed or rubbed with a protective topcoat with colour in it. Adding this layer usually subtracts some of the natural softness and breathability of the leather hide but makes it able to withstand more everyday wear.
After about 10 different stages of re-tanning and finishings, the hide is now recognizable as the leather you see on furniture pieces.
After going through the full manufacturing process, leather gets sorted and inspected for markings. The more markings a hide has, the harder it is to use them, especially if they have deep scarring that cannot be fixed.
Leather Selection Offered at La-Z-Boy
Leather furniture at La-Z-Boy is upholstered with genuine top-grain leather, expertly suited to your needs and style and comes in a variety of types and colours.
This type of leather includes aniline leather with transparent dyes that enhance the natural markings and colour.
Variations created are prized as hallmarks of quality and give each piece a distinctive look all on its own. All Authentic leathers have a special protective topcoat that maintains the beauty and integrity of the natural characteristics of the hide.
Along with our performance fabrics, La-Z-Boy also has performance leathers that act the same way. The consistent overall colour and subtle markings of La-Z-Boy's performance or protected leathers are created by a variety of techniques, such as embossing, corrective techniques and protective coatings, to improve resistance to soil and enhance their natural beauty.
Nubuck is a subtle top-grain leather that has been sanded and buffed on the outside/grain side to give off a slight nap of protein fibres.
These short protein fibres help produce a surface that has a similar feel to velvet materials.
Leather Program at La-Z-Boy
Furniture styles available and displayed in our showrooms usually have select covers representing the base or best pricing. Most will have select fabric options and over 30 frames, including stationary and motion furniture, have between 1 to 3 leather colours.
These leather covers are handpicked for the frame's shape, and additional yardage is purchased to provide more significant savings and reduced prices. Therefore, they are considered the most affordable La-Z-Boy leather option.
The select leather program includes both authentic and performance types of leathers mentioned above.
These select leathers are married with matching vinyl urethane located on the side and outside backs of the frame (non-touch points) to make it a budget-friendly option.
The custom leather program offers an additional 10 performance leather colours on the majority of the furniture styles offered at La-Z-Boy including the frames in our select leather program.
These leathers are also married to the frames with matching leather-like vinyl urethane and come at an additional cost, which will be discussed in the cost section of this article.
Custom Leather Plus
The custom leather plus program allows you full customization with a wide selection of rich colours and subtle textures. It consists of a variety of authentic, performance and nubuck leathers covering the entire furniture frame.
Since no leather matching vinyl is incorporated, this is a premium leather program with the most incremental costs.
Hand-cut for your specific frame and sewn in North America, these leathers can be custom ordered on most La-Z-Boy sofa, sectional and chair styles.
Similar to the existing antimicrobial fabrics at La-Z-Boy, antimicrobial leathers help protect the surface from mould, mildew and odour-causing bacteria to appear.
Crypton Leather Properties
Along with the high-performance fabrics at La-Z-Boy, our leathers also have stain-resistant, anti-bacterial, and bleach-cleanable leather available, thanks to the company Crypton.
La-Z-Boy also has leather alternatives that are not included in any of the leather programs.
If you're looking for leather but find it exceeding your budget or you prioritize durability and need something highly cleanable, below are some leather alternatives that might entice you.
It is important to note that all seat cushions at La-Z-Boy are made with genuine leather, meaning only the side and back of the furniture frame can be made with leather match alternatives.
Renew is a performance fabric that mimics leather but is not actually leather. It is considered fade-resistant, highly durable, eco-friendly, and cleans well with the use of soap and water.
All outside layers of the furniture are bonded together, washed, and tumbled to have the same look, texture, and feel of genuine leather.
It is made out of urethane foam that is heat bonded to polyurethane film, poly-cotton substrate, and a minimum of 17% recycled scrap leather.
Faux leather is basically recycled leather that the tannery did not use because they were shaved away from the original hide grain.
Although it might be recycled leather, it does not behave the same way as regular leather. It is not as stretchable, breathable, or tear-resistant, but is still stain-resistant and easily cleanable.
At La-Z-Boy, most leather furniture options come at an additional cost.
As previously mentioned, select leather will not increase the base price of the product. However, leather products will always be more expensive than select fabric options.
Custom leather and custom leather plus, on the other hand, will increase the overall cost depending on the furniture frame.
The table below explains the cost breakdown of each furniture frame and how it may differ in price.
Custom Leather Plus
Double-Seats; Corner Pieces; Chaises
Chair & a Half’s
*All La-Z-Boy prices listed in this article are subject to change. We aim to update all cost-related articles twice per year. This article was last updated on May 11th, 2022. Please visit lzb.com and select an Ottawa or Kingston La-Z-Boy store location to view the most up-to-date pricing.
5 Benefits of Leather Upholstery
There are many different benefits to leather upholstery, some you may not know about. Here are all of the benefits you need to know when considering buying a leather furniture item.
- Whether you love stationary or reclining furniture, leather is considered a prestigious option as opposed to fabric. This is because leather is known to increase in price over time if it is properly cared for.
- Leather also lasts longer than fabric. In fact, leather is 50% stronger than other fabric upholstery options and has a life expectancy of 15-20 years. With age, leather also becomes softer, while still retaining its shape and vibrance.
- Leather is not only timeless, but it is also tear and flame-resistant. It can breathe and adapt to all different kinds of temperatures, being able to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it is easier on those who suffer from certain allergies
- Further, although fabric options might have a cheaper initial price, the amount of money spent in order to up-keep the look of the fabric is much more than a leather option, which takes less maintenance. Leather furniture only requires a mild dusting or wiping to keep it looking vibrant for years to come.
- Many also believe that leather has a harder time going out of style compared to fabric covers that might have too much of a distinct look for their time.
Problems with Leather Upholstery
However, as most things do, there are negative aspects of leather upholstery. More specifically, there are 6 common problems that can occur during the lifespan of leather furniture.
Natural body oils, for example, can actually damage leather, making it susceptible to peeling and cracking over time.
Further, extreme weather fluctuations can cause the leather to crack even sooner than expected.
For more detailed information on the problems with leather and how to avoid them, check out our article 6 Common Problems with Leather Furniture.
Is La-Z-Boy Leather Furniture Right for You?
As you can see, leather is a great cover material for furniture. But you might still be wondering, is leather the right for furniture cover in your home?
While making this decision, you must consider cost, functionality, and practicality before purchasing an item.
When considering the cost of leather as opposed to the price of fabric, it is more expensive. However, over time you will be spending much less money for repairs and cleaning because leather takes less maintenance than a fabric upholstered furniture item.
As mentioned before, it also lasts much longer than fabric. In fact, it actually becomes more comfortable with age and adapts to changes in a climate very easily.
If you would like a more detailed comparison of Leather and Fabric, take a look at this article.
In terms of functionality, leather has great strength and elasticity, meaning it is harder to rip or tear through the leather. Its durability also makes it somewhat heat resistant, making it hard for it to burn or melt.
This, unfortunately, does not mean that it is completely impenetrable. Leather does not take kindly to sharp objects or animal claws that are easy to scratch and tear leather furniture.
If you do have sharp items in your household, it is strongly recommended to keep them away from leather furniture. More specifically, if you own an unpredictable animal with sharp claws, leather furniture might not be the best option for you.
Lastly, the look of leather furniture plays a big role in a room's overall design. It can either complement or hinder a room’s aesthetic.
This is especially true when considering coloured leather furniture. Ordinary leather colours like brown and darker neutrals are common for leather furniture. But when you mix in unique colours, it gets harder to match the right aesthetic to a colourful leather furniture item.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you to decide whether a leather sofa or recliner goes well with your personal style and compliments your home.
After reading this article, you should have a detailed understanding of leather, including exactly what is offered at La-Z-Boy.
If you are looking for a new piece of leather furniture for your home, why not check out our furniture and leather selection at La-Z-Boy?
If Leather isn’t something that interests you, we also have a range of furniture offered in all sorts of fabrics to choose from.
You may even consider taking advantage of our Interior Design Services to see which upholstery cover is the best one for you.
Last Edited On May 11th, 2022
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