Is leather the best choice for your sofa or sectional in Mexico? This is one question my clients frequently ask me. The short answer is that leather might be the right solution depending on your specific situation. Are you planning to rent out your home in Puerto Vallarta when you are not using it? Do you have children or fur babies that will also be using the furniture? Should you decide that leather is the best option, it is essential to know that leather comes in different types. The type of leather you select is as important as whether you chose it in the first place.

There are four generally accepted types of leathers used for furniture covers. These are full grain, top grain, genuine and bonded. When a cowhide is inserted into the splitting machine, it is sliced into long layers. The cutting blade separates the top (full grain and top grain) from the bottom (genuine or split leather).

Full-grain leather is the most expensive leather available. It is the outermost layer of the hide and has the most variations in both markings and color. With full-grain leather, you can see the life of the cow. If the cow pressed up against a barbed-wire fence, bitten by horseflies or injured during its lifetime, you would see the marks. You can even see the veins of the cow in most full-grain leathers. This type of leather is the most natural-looking with real character. Full-grain leather does not go through much post-processing at the tannery. That is why a full-grain leather sofa or sectional is more prone to stains since liquids and oils are more easily absorbed. This type of leather is also going to stretch, so if you like a taut cover, this is not the best solution for your needs.

The other top layer is referred to as top grain leather. This grade is much more uniform since it is the split of hide under the skin's top layer. Top grain leather is strong and more consistent in coloring than the full-grain. It is usually buffed, sanded and stained to create a uniform look. The pigmentation added to the top grain also serves as a water repellant to the leather. Liquid tends to bead on the surface and roll off. For that reason, we suggest the top grain over the full-grain for most homeowners in Mexico, especially in our beachside homes with humid climates.

The remaining two layers are split from the bottom or inside of the hide. These leathers are put through more manufacturing processes to make them ready for use as furniture covers. It is correct to say that genuine leather is real leather since it does come from the cow. However, it is not considered decadent like either of the two top grains (full grain and top grain) since it is highly manipulated.

Bonded leather is a way that furniture manufacturers provide a leather-look sofa or sectional at a low price. Without question, bonded leather is not a recommended solution for your home in Mexico. Smaller cuts or scraps of leather left over are fused with glue and pressure to create bonded leather. If the process and materials used are substandard, the sofa or sectional will look amazing in the store but not much longer. Many companies in Mexico and offshore manufacture sofas and sectionals utilizing a process that emulates leather but is even worse than bonded leather. In Mexico, it is referred to as "tacto piel." A spray is applied to a cloth to appear like leather. Sadly, many people have fallen prey to this scam, losing thousands of dollars without recourse to get their money refunded.

It is crucial to buy leather furniture from brand names you trust that use the right manufacturing processes. If it is time to replace your sofa or sectional or have a new home in Puerto Vallarta, please contact me to help you buy it right the first time. You have worked hard for your money, and furniture is a big-ticket investment.

Questions about how to furnish a new condo in Puerto Vallarta with items that will last and be comfy? Email me at sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com.