Is leather the smart choice for your sofa or sectional in Mexico? This is one of the most frequently asked questions people ask me when furnishing their homes. The thought is that it might be the easiest to clean, especially if you rent out your home in Vallarta when you are not using it yourself. Let's dig a bit deeper into whether it is the right solution for you.
When it comes to leather, there are four main types of leathers used for furniture covers. These are full grain, top grain, genuine and bonded.
Cowhide is put into a splitting machine that slices it 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 outer layer of the hide and has the most variations in both markings and color. In full-grain leather, you can see the life of the cow. If the cow pressed against a barbed wire fence, suffered bites from horseflies or injured, you would see the marks. You can even see veins of the cow in most full-grain leathers. This is the most natural-looking leather with loads of character. Full-grain leather does not go through much post-processing at the tannery. Although beautiful, full-grain leather sofas or sectionals are more prone to stains since liquids and oils are more easily absorbed. They also tend to relax or stretch. Full-grain leather is one of the most expensive leather options as a cover for your furniture.
The other outer layer of the cowhide is top grain leather. This grade is much more uniform since it is the split of hide under the top layer of the skin. Top grain leather is durable 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. Top grain leather is less expensive than full-grain.
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 authentic leather since it does come from the cow. However, it is not considered decadent as either of the two top grains (full grain and top grain) since it is processed more. Genuine and split leathers are more economical than top or full-grain leathers.
Bonded leather is a great way to get a leather sofa or sectional at a very reasonable price. If correctly manufactured, bonded leather is an excellent solution for your home in Mexico. Scraps of leather are fused with glue and pressure to create bonded leather. Be cautious of any bonded leather imported from offshore and items made with "tacto piel." These are poorly manufactured replicas that crack and peel. These are the cheapest option because they are not really classified as genuine leather. There are numerous retailers in the Bay of Banderas area that sell furniture with bonded leather. There are as many customer comments on social media about how their furniture cracked and peeled, and they were unable to get their money back. If you are purchasing leather, it is best to avoid anything called bonded.
If you are looking for new furniture, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to provide you with information as to where to purchase furniture that lasts in this harsh, humid climate with salty ocean air.