Is leather a smart choice for your sofa or
sectional in Mexico? This question is
frequently asked at our furniture showroom in Old Town Vallarta. Before I share my answer, here is a little
background on the different types of leather manufacturers use as covers on
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 put into a 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 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. You see the marks if the cow
pressed up against a barbed-wire fence was bitten by horseflies or
injured. You can even see veins of the
cow in most full-grain leathers, giving it loads of character. Full-grain leather does not go through a lot
of post-processing at the tannery.
Although beautiful, full-grain leather sofas or sectionals are more
prone to stains since liquids and oils are easily absorbed. They also stretch. If you like the look of a well-worn pair of
jeans, this is how your leather sofa will appear in time. It is perfect for a home with a Santa Fe or
hacienda style of décor.The other top layer of the cowhide is
referred to as top grain leather. This
grade is much more uniform since it is the split of hide under the top layer of
skin. Top grain leather is strong and
more consistent in coloring than the full-grain. It has fewer imperfections because it is
buffed, sanded and stained to create a uniform look. The pigmentation that is added to the top
grain also serves as a water repellant to the leather. Liquid tends to bead on the surface and
roll-off. This layer of leather will not
stretch as much as the full-grain leather.
For those reasons, we suggest the top grain over the full-grain for most
homeowners in Mexico, especially in our beachside homes with humid
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 as the two top grains (full grain and top grain) since it is more
Bonded leather is a great way to get a
leather sofa or sectional at a very reasonable price. If it is 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. It is difficult to tell
whether a piece of furniture in bonded leather is well made. Many big box stores offer these items,
imported from offshore.
That is why we recommend you only buy
leather sofas, sectionals and sofa beds from brand names you know and
trust. The best brand for leather sofas,
sectionals and sofabeds in Mexico is Palliser.
They have manufacturing plants in Saltillo, Mexico and have been in
business since the 1950s. We have sold
hundreds of pieces of furniture over the past ten years, without issue. Should a problem arise, the manufacturer has
an outstanding warranty.
Whether you should opt for leather, fabric
or performance fabric comes down to a personal preference. To some, leather feels sticky or cold. To others, it is comfortable and less maintenance. If you plan to rent out your home when not
using it yourself, I recommend a performance fabric that looks and feels like
leather, repels liquid and looks new for twenty years.
Pop into our store at 363A Constitucion
just off Basilio Badillo (where the buses are). We are happy to show you the
different leathers, fabrics and the new performance fabrics!