green upholstery leather leather couch

What is Upholstery Leather? [A Comprehensive Guide]

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Have you considered enhancing your house or office with extra elegance and authenticity? Leather upholstery is the ideal material for you. It will give your rooms a distinctive and original touch while maintaining an ageless and elegant appearance and providing good resilience to time and use.

Understanding the various varieties of leather that are available and utilized to create this unique leather, as well as its manufacturing process and the procedures required to preserve and wash it, is crucial before you begin hunting for your future item.

We'll learn everything there is to know about upholstery leather in this book, giving you the skills to become an authority and make the greatest choice.

Roll Top Rucksack
Roll Top Rucksack
Small Canvas Backpack
Small Canvas Backpack
Women's Rucksack
Women's Rucksack
Waxed Canvas Backpack
Vintage Backpack

What is Upholstery Leather?

A form of leather called upholstery leather is used to cover furniture including couches, chairs, and ottomans. It is renowned for its strength, adaptability, and opulent look and is manufactured from the hides of cows, pigs, and other animals.

It is a premium material that can give any space a dash of class and refinement. It is commonly used in residential, commercial, and business environments and comes in a variety of hues, textures, and finishes.

Where Does Upholstery Leather Come From?

Cow, pig, and other animal hides are used to produce upholstery leather. Usually, the food sector, where the animals are grown for meat, is the source of these skins. Following processing, the hides are tanned to produce several types of leather, including upholstery leather.

As an example, full-grain leather, which is regarded as the finest quality because it employs the complete hide, including the grain surface, the strongest and most durable section, is of greater quality than other types of leather.

The second-highest grade leather is top-grain, which is created by sanding the surface of the hide to remove flaws; in contrast, corrected-grain leather has a fake grain applied to the surface and may not last as long as other varieties of leather.

📷 Credit: Cechaflo's Youtube Channel

Where does the term Upholstery Leather Come From?

The term "upholstery," which defines the material used to cover furniture, originates the name "upholstery leather". The Middle English term "upohlsterer," which means "one who supplies furniture with cushioning, springs, webbing, and fabric or leather coverings," is the source of the word "upholstery".

Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and the Romans utilized leather to cover their seats and sofas, and this tradition can be traced back to them.

Who Invented Upholstery Leather?

Leather has been used for upholstery since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Romans. However, the tanning and processing methods that have been refined throughout the years are what gave rise to contemporary upholstery leather.

An ancient skill that has been done for thousands of years, tanning is the process of preparing the skins to make them more robust and decay-resistant. Tanneries established guilds to safeguard their trade secrets when tanning developed into a profession in the Middle Ages.

How Upholstery Leather is it Made?

Animal skins are tanned and further processed to create this distinctive leather. To eliminate any hair, fat, or other impurities, the hides are first soaked in a mix of water and chemicals. The required texture, color, and finish are then created by treating the skins with oils, dyes, and other chemicals after they have been stretched, dried, and treated.

There are various distinct tanning techniques, each with special qualities of its own. One of the oldest processes, vegetable tanning includes employing tannins obtained from tree bark to tan the hides. In a more recent technique called chrome tanning, the hides are tanned using a solution of chromium salts. This process can result in less durable leather, although it is quicker and more effective than vegetable tanning.

Here is a list of the different types of leather finishes you can find:

  • Aniline: This is a type of leather that is dyed using aniline dyes, which are transparent and allow the natural grain of the leather to show through. Aniline leather is considered high-quality and is often used for luxury furniture.
  • Pigmented: This type of leather is coated with a layer of pigment to give it a consistent color and finish. Pigmented leather is more resistant to stains and fading than aniline leather.
  • Semi-aniline: This type of leather is a combination of aniline and pigmented leather, and offers a balance of natural grain and consistent color.
  • Nubuck: This is a type of leather that has a soft, velvety finish and is made from the top-grain of the hide. Nubuck leather is often used for luxury furniture and clothing.
  • Suede: This is a type of leather that has a soft, brushed finish and is made from the split of the hide. Suede is often used for clothing and accessories.

📷 Credit: Circle Furniture's Youtube Channel

What are Upholstery Leather Advantages and Disadvantages?

Upholstery leather has benefits including durability, stain and wear resistance, and ease of maintenance. Additionally, it exudes luxury and may lend a sense of refinement to any space.

The fact that it can be pricey and may call for a larger initial commitment, however, is one of its key drawbacks. Additionally, it might not be suited for those who have animal product allergies or sensitivities.

Here is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages:


  • Durable: Leather is a strong and durable material that can withstand years of use.
  • Resistant to stains: Leather is naturally resistant to stains, making it easy to maintain.
  • Resistant to wear: Leather is also resistant to wear, which means it will not easily show signs of aging or damage.
  • Easy to clean: Leather can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and mild detergent.
  • Luxurious appearance: Leather has a natural beauty that can add a touch of elegance to any room.
  • Flame-retardant: Leather is naturally flame-retardant, making it a popular choice for furniture in homes and commercial settings.


  • Expensive: Leather can be more expensive than other types of upholstery materials, such as fabric or faux leather.
  • Not suitable for allergies: Leather may not be suitable for people with allergies or sensitivities to animal products.
  • Requires special care: Leather requires special care, such as regular cleaning and conditioning, to maintain its appearance and prolong its life.
Leather Weekend Bag
Leather Weekend Bag
Leather Duffle Bag
Leather Duffle Bag
Brown Leather Holdall
Brown Leather Holdall
Leather Overnight Bag
Leather Overnight Bag

What Upholstery Leather is Used For?

The upholstery leather used to cover sofas, chairs, and ottomans is known as upholstery leather. Additionally, it is utilized in clothes, accessories, and automotive interiors.

It is frequently utilized to give spaces a sense of elegance and refinement in homes, workplaces, and commercial settings. It is a flexible material that can be utilized to accent any décor style because it is available in a broad variety of colors, textures, and finishes.

Here is a list of some of the ways that it is used:

  • Furniture: It is commonly used to cover sofas, chairs, and ottomans.
  • Car interiors: It is a popular choice for car interiors, as it is durable and easy to maintain.
  • Clothing: It is also used in clothing and fashion accessories, such as jackets, pants, and belts.
  • Handbags and shoes: It is also used to make handbags, shoes, and other accessories.
  • Bookbinding: It is used in bookbinding as well.

📷 Credit: Rose Anvil's Youtube Channel

How to Recognize Upholstery Leather?

The smooth, polished sheen of upholstery leather is one way to identify it. There should be no obvious flaws or imperfections, and it should feel smooth and supple to the touch. This leather should also have a consistent colour, devoid of discoloration or changes in tone.

Here are some tips on how to recognize it:

  • Look for a smooth, polished finish: it should have a smooth, polished finish that is free from any defects or blemishes.
  • Check for a soft and supple feel: it should feel soft and supple to the touch.
  • Inspect the color: it should be uniform in color, with no discoloration or variations in shade.
  • Check for a natural grain: it should have a natural grain that is consistent throughout the piece.
  • Look for high-quality stitching: If the leather is used to cover a piece of furniture, inspect the stitching to ensure that it is high-quality and consistent.
Vintage Laptop Rucksack
Vintage Laptop Rucksack
Vintage Canvas Backpack
Vintage Canvas Backpack
Retro Canvas Rucksack
Retro Canvas Rucksack
Waxed Canvas Backpack
Waxed Canvas Backpack

How to Clean & Care for Upholstery Leather?


When cleaning leather upholstery, use a moist towel and a neutral detergent. Because they can harm the leather, stay away from using strong chemicals or abrasive cleaning.

Additionally, it's crucial to test any cleaning solutions on a discrete patch of the leather before applying them to the entire surface.


Keep upholstery leather away from heat sources and direct sunshine to preserve its beauty and lengthen its lifespan.

Pets and things with sharp edges should also be kept away from it since they could scratch the surface. Dusting or vacuuming the leather on a regular basis can also aid in removing dirt and debris.


Upholstery leather should be kept in a cool, dry location while not in use. Avoid keeping it in moist or humid environments because doing so might lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

Additionally, it has to be shielded from hot sources and direct sunshine.


If it is damaged, a qualified leather repair specialist can fix it. The repair will be as undetectable as possible since they may match the leather's color and texture.

📷 Credit: Saddleback Leather's Youtube Channel

Here is a list of tips on how to clean and care:

  • Clean with a damp cloth and mild detergent: Use a damp cloth and mild detergent to clean upholstery leather, avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners.
  • Condition leather: Conditioning leather helps to keep it supple and maintain its natural oils. Leather conditioner can be applied every 6-12 months.
  • Protect from sunlight and heat: Keep leather furniture away from direct sunlight and heat sources to prevent fading and cracking.
  • Keep leather away from pets and sharp objects: Pets can scratch and damage leather, and sharp objects can puncture or tear it.
  • Dust or vacuum regularly: Regularly dusting or vacuuming leather furniture can help remove dirt and debris.
  • Avoid over-wetting: Do not saturate the leather with water when cleaning, as this can cause damage.
  • Have professional repairs done: If your leather furniture becomes damaged, have a professional repair it to ensure that it is done correctly and matches the existing leather.

What are the Alternatives to Upholstery Leather?

There are several alternatives that can be used to cover furniture, such as:

  • Fabric: Upholstered furniture can be covered in a variety of fabrics, including cotton, linen, and velvet.
  • Faux leather: Also known as "leatherette," this is a synthetic material that mimics the look and feel of leather. It is often made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU) and is a more affordable option than genuine leather.
  • Microfiber: This is a synthetic material that is known for its durability and resistance to stains and wear. It is often made from a blend of polyester and nylon and has a soft, suede-like texture.
  • Vinyl: This is a plastic material that is often used as an alternative to leather for car interiors and other applications. It is a budget-friendly option and is easy to clean and maintain.
  • Natural materials: Other natural materials such as bamboo, hemp, and cork can also be used as an alternative to leather upholstery.

It's crucial to remember that each option has unique qualities. For instance, natural fabrics may not be as stain-resistant as synthetic materials, and imitation leather may not be as durable as genuine leather. In the end, the upholstery material choose will rely on tastes, finances, and how the furniture will be used.


In conclusion, upholstery leather is a premium material that can give any space a dash of class and refinement. It is created from animal hides that have been treated and tanned to produce various kinds of leather.

Although upholstery leather is renowned for its sturdiness, adaptability, and opulent look, it may be pricey and may need particular maintenance. Alternatives are also available, each with its own distinct qualities, including fabric, imitation leather, microfiber, vinyl, and natural materials. In the end, the upholstery material choose will rely on tastes, finances, and how the furniture will be used.

Leather Duffle Bag
Leather Duffle Bag
Leather Weekender Bag
Leather Weekender Bag
Leather Holdall
Leather Holdall
Black Leather Holdall
Black Leather Holdall

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Baptiste is an adventurer with a passion for urban and wilderness exploration and adventure, and a lover of vintage objects with timeless charm. As a Founding member of the Eiken team, he tries to share his passion and expertise for travel and vintage fashion through his articles.

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