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10 Most Popular Types of Leather For Sofas & Couches

Are you busy with home decor and struggling to decide which type of leather sofa will suit your room? No worries! Your guide is here. Read more

10 Most Popular Types of Leather For Sofas & Couches

Leather couches provide a comfortable and classic touch to your room.

Sofas that are made up of leather are the most appealing and relaxing furniture in any house or office. It not only gives a classical look to your home but adds a sense of comfort as well. The luxurious softness, durability, and water-resistant property make it stand out in all types of sofas.

The market is full of leather sofas of various types. However, not all leather sofas are the best to pick.

Let’s go through the categories of leather sofas to decide which type of leather sofa is best for you.

2 Types of Leather Furniture For A Living Room

Leather furniture can be divided into 2 main categories:

  1. Natural leather furniture.
  2. Artificial leather.

The main difference in the categories is that the natural leather is made of the pure animal hide while the second one is man-made.

Under these categories, you can find various types of leather sofas.

10 Best Types of Leather Sofas For your Home

Types of Leather for sofas are defined on the basis of a few major differences in leather.

Some differences are due to the manufacturing process while others include types of animal hides.

Looking at the leather quality, cuts, fur, grades, and finishes we get the following types of leather for sofa:

Full Grain Leather

full grain types of leather for sofa upholstery

The outer part of the leather which has not been sanded is known as the grain. The sanded process is used to remove any sort of imperfection in the outer hide.

However, the hair is removed. It contains packed dense fibers. Moreover, it can bear tough use as it is extremely strong and durable.

Due to no sanding process on it, imperfections can be seen over its surface. These imperfections are perhaps due to scrapes or cuts the animal during its life had received. Visually appealing full-grain leather has slight or no imperfections.

Moreover, the leather sofa made of full grain leather is quite costly.

Of any leather hide, full-grain leather is the most strength. In addition, it also can create patina which is the ability to change surface color due to use.

Apart from that, it provides some properties of water resistance as well.

Though expensive yet it provides a durable characteristic of a leather sofa.

You don’t need to worry if your child spills milk on your full-grain leather sofa. Its water-resistant property is enough to handle the problem.

The Pros

  • Strong leather.
  • Gives natural look.
  • Suitable for offices.

The Cons

  • Easily gets scratches.
  • Expensive.

Top Grain Leather

top grain leather upholstery

Another best leather for a sofa is the top grain leather which is the outside layer of the hide which is the toughest layer.

Generally, it is buffed or sanded to remove imperfections.

The process makes the leather softer when other finishes are applied.

The sanding process is used to remove the scrapes and other irregularities that make leather unclear. Though the process increases the visual properties of the leather.

However, it takes away the strength of the leather and water resistance properties. So, there is a trade-off between leather quality and the appearance of the leather.

The leather furniture such as leather sofa made of top grain leather is soft and most natural. It comes with two types of dye coating. Aniline is a coating that keeps its looks close to real leather furniture. Whereas semi-aniline leather can reduce its natural leather appearance yet it provides better water-resistant properties to your sofa.

The Pros

  • Soft and natural.
  • Lasts longer.

The Cons

  • Less durable compared to full-grain. leather.

Split Grain Leather

split grain leather upholstery

The split-grain leather is the lower end of the top-grain leather that is cut off and separated. Its natural surface is not that stalwart, tight, and dense compared to top-grain and full-grain.

When it is separated initially it is light in color and seems suede. Naturally, top-grain leather retains the texture of real leather and shows the pebbling on the surface as well.

However, the case is different for split grain leather even though it is one of the real leather. Initially, it does not look shiny and has no natural color variations.

To make up for the deficiencies it has to undergo various processes.

Undergoing the simulating process though split-grain leather lost much of its softness yet the furniture retains the quality of real leather furniture.

It offers pleasing, beneficial, and functional services to leather sofas and makes it one of the best leather sofas.

The Pros

  • Water-resistant.
  • Puncture resistant.
  • Available in various colors.

The Cons

  • Not much soft.

Bonded Leather

bonded leather for sofa

Bonded leather which is also known as reconstituted leather is the scrapple of leathers. Made up of scraps of leather, it is shredded and bonded using latex or polyurethane.

In the mix, the leather amount can vary from 10% to 90%. Therefore, it affects the functional and aesthetic properties of leather.

Some manufacturers do not consider furniture made from bonded leather the real leather furniture due to the actual amount of leather used.

Bonded leather is also painted and various colors can be given to it. For a specific style of leather, bonded leather can be embossed as well. It is mostly used in furniture, bags, personal accessories, and bookbinding.

One of the benefits of bonding leather is the cost it saves. Though it only uses leather scraps and latex, it smells like real leather. The bonded leather sofa is, therefore appealing with the smell, appearance, and budget.

With a low budget, you can still keep your home aesthetically alive.

Another plus point of bonded leather furniture which makes it one of the best leather sofas is that it does not undergo a chemical tanning process. Therefore, it has a low level of environmentally and chemically unsafe formaldehyde.

Bonded leather sofa is best for people with leather allergies.

The Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Real leather texture
  • Variety in colors
  • Cons:
  • Short life span

The Cons

  • Short life span
  • Easy scratching and peeling.
  • Color fades under sunlight.

Bi Cast Leather

bi-cast leather upholstery for sofa

Sometimes split-grain leather undergoes some additional treatments. These additional treatments assist in changing its appearance. After the treatments, the split-grain leather looks and feels like top-grain leather.

Polyurethane is used in the process of producing Bi-cast leather as it provides a softer and finer appearance to the leather. The use of polyurethane is the reason for cheaper Bi-cast leather.

However, it does not possess any long-lasting quality. You will find it splitting, peeling off, and cracking.

The benefit of bi-cast leather which makes it stand out is its price. It costs about a third of top-grain leather. Moreover, you can remove the stains of food and liquids with a single wipe from the couch. Without an actual leather cost, bi-cast is the best leather for a sofa with an appealing leather look.

If you have children or any pets at home, in your limited budget Bi-cast can play a better role.

No worries if your child has spilled something on your leather sofa. A wipe can handle it.

The Pros

  • Less costly
  • Appealing look

The Cons

  • Not durable
  • Short life span

Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather fabric for sofa

It is a version of top-grain leather that is buffed to give the leather a velvet-like appearance.

It gives a waterproof solution, therefore it is used in sued shoes.

The couches made of nubuck are cheap and require more careful maintenance. The surface of the nubuck is smooth as it is buffed.

Generally, it is free of imperfections. For better maintenance, waterproofing treatment is applied on the sofa. A damp microfiber cloth or dish soap can be used to clean the nubuck leather.

The nubuck leather sofa is one of the best leather sofas for families with kids. You can easily clean the mess your kids create on your Nubuk leather sofa.  

The Pros

  • Attractive appearance
  • Waterproof

The Cons

  • Fragile

Royaline Leather

royaline leather type for sofa

One of the most demanded natural leather is royaline. It is liked due to the high markings such as scars and pebbled finishes. These finishes make it quite expensive and it looks like real leather furniture. Due to its classy appearance, you can find it only in high-end furniture stores. However, extra treatment is required for its best maintenance.

The couches made of royaline can not endure the moisture from human skin or damp environments. Initially, the surface of such couches seems to be tough and strong. However, with time it becomes soft.

For surface prevention from peeling and scratches only certified leather products should be used. You can also use the products which are recommended by the manufacturer to maintain the leather.

The Pros

  • Pebbled finish
  • Unique look

The Cons

  • Expensive leather

Aniline Leather

aniline leather upholstery for couch

Aniline leather is the dyed version of the leather.

During the manufacturing process, the leather is put inside a large drum to apply a dye to it. After dying the leather, it still retains the texture of the real hide. The hide markings on the couch look appealing.

Unlike undyed leather, the texture is slightly softer. Mostly full grain leather is used in aniline leather. However, some manufacturers use top grain leather too.

The benefit of the dyed surface is that it increases the lifespan of the couch. The dye protects the surface of leather from absorbing liquid as well. It costs similar to full grain leather. To clean the sofa recommended cleaning product should be used only.     

The Pros

  • Softer leather
  • Longer life span

The Cons

  • Requires high maintenance

Artificial Leather

Ever wondered what is Artificial Leather for upholstery? Well, synthetically manufactured leather is known as artificial leather. There are a few types of synthetic leather which include

  1. Faux leather
  2. Leatherette
  3. Plastic leather
  4. Poromeric leather

Faux leather and Leatherette are widely used in leather furniture.

4 Basic Types of Artificial Leather Sofa Fabric

Though synthetic leather furniture is not made of a pure and natural form of leather. However, due to the increasing cost of natural leather, the market has introduced synthetic leather sofas. Moreover, synthetic leather possesses the same qualities as natural leather furniture.

Faux Leather

faux leather for your home furniture

Faux leather is also known as fake leather. It is created without any use of hiding.

However, in appearance, it looks like natural leather. If it is a good quality artificial leather it won’t peel off.

It is durable, non-porous, easy to clean, and lasts for several years.

Whatever the mess your kids and pets create on the faux leather sofa you can clean it conveniently. For budget-friendly furniture and car seats, faux leather is considered one of the best leather types.

The Pros

  • Cheap among all other leather types
  • Requires less maintenance

The Cons

  • Non-breathable


leatherette leather type for upholstery

Another type of synthetic leather that is durable and seems like natural leather is leatherette. It uses a combination of fabric and plastic. The fabric used may be synthetic fabric. However, some manufacturers use natural fabric. Whatever fabric is used, the end product is identical to real leather as it is durable and does not fade.

Moreover, it is not porous leather which means you can wipe away stains easily.  Leatherette sofas are comfortable but less durable. They can have a longer life span if kept with proper care.

The Pros

  • Can last over 15 years.
  • Easy to clean.

The Cons

  • Less durable than faux.

Plastic Leather

plastic leather for sofa

Another commonly used type of artificial leather is plastic leather. A coating of plastic is used on fabric to create plastic leather. It gives a shiny surface to the end product. Quite identical to real leather, plastic leather possess durability.

Moreover, it is really strong and unlike pure leather, it does not fade.

However, it is not easy to clean or wash. Nor it can be dry-cleaned. Therefore it is not used in clothing.

Poromeric Leather

poromeric leather for furniture

The mixture of various leather fabrics prepares poromeric leather.

The preparation technique for poromeric leather is similar to the method of plastic leather. A layer made of Polyurethane is coated over a fabric layer of polyester. The end product gives a glossy look and it is porous as well.

Just like leather, it is durable. In addition, it is breathable too. Therefore, it is considered in making foot wears such as boots.

According to the properties, faux leather and leatherette are widely used in sofas, office chairs, and armchairs. The remaining two synthetic leather are considered better for producing other various products.

Treated Leather

The animal hide goes through a number of treatments before reaching the end consumer. At various steps, different types of leather are produced. However, the following three treatments on every type of leather are a must. 3 Types of Aniline leather for upholstery are:

Full Aniline Leather

With minimum imperfections, the full aniline dying process is considered for top-grain leather.

A translucent dye is used in the process. The hide is soaked with the color which combines with it. The color does not hide the scars and scraps of the hide as it is quite subtle. Hence the dye allows the furniture to retain the looks of real leather furniture.

The full aniline leather also retains the texture of the leather. However, it is not protective against stains. Apart from that, full aniline leather is soft and the furniture made of it is simply comfortable. With the passage of time, it creates a patina look that raises the beauty of your furniture.

Semi-Aniline Leather

The animal hide goes through the process of coloring. The color combines with the leather.

However, unlike full aniline leather, the semi-aniline provides a uniform color throughout the hide. With dispersed pigments coating, uniform color is achieved. The color seems darker and hence it covers the scars and other imperfections on the leather.

Furthermore, the color coating prevents the leather from fading and makes it stain-resistant. Available in various colors, the durable semi-aniline leather furniture serves as a complement to your home.

Pigmented leather

Leather that is not suitable for full or semi-aniline processes is sent to tanneries for applying pigments.

The process of pigmentation includes sanding and buffing the hide to remove imperfections. After removing the irregularities from the surface of the hide, the dying process begins. First, an opaque coating is applied. After that, another layer of coating is applied for protection purposes. It gives a uniform appearance and color to the leather.

Usually, it is not soft, however, it is best in terms of preventing the surface from stains. For families with kids, pigmented leather is one of the best leather choices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is leather material made of?

Leather is made of hides, which are the skin of animals. These animals include cows, horses, pigs, and buffalo. It is used to make various goods including furniture, clothing, and sports.

Which material is better than leather?

Wax canvas is considered better than leather. It has the property of water resistance as well. Usually, it is made from cotton and has some environmental impacts.

Are polyester and leather the same material?

Both give the same texture. However, the difference is that one is natural while the other is a man-made product. Leather comes from animal hide while polyesters are made from petroleum. Both can be used alternatively. However, there can be a difference in quality.

What are the parts of leather hide?

Animal hide is the skin of animals used as a natural substance for making leather. It is used as a protective layer to keep the inner things safe. Following are the parts of a leather hide.


It is the outer part of the hide made of dense fibers. Exposed to sun, water, and other outer environments, it serves as a shield as it is very strong.

Grain-corium junction:

At the junction, the strong grain is blended with soft corium. Therefore, it is a mix of both the inner and outermost layers of the skin.


The inner layer is the corium after the junction. It consists of soft collagen fibers. It is the thickest layer that can appear in genuine leather or top grain.

What are the main 5 types of leather?

Usually, folks look for the layers of hiding that are still present after getting the end product. These five categories include top-grain, full-grain, split-grain, genuine leather, and bonded leather.

Final words

After understanding the types of leather it is easier to choose the best leather for the sofa. Full-grain leather is considered to be the best quality leather among all other types. Since it is not separated from top-grain and other layers, therefore, it makes the strongest leather fabric.

Apart from that, it is pure and breathable as it does not go through several finishing applications.

However, artificial leather plays approximately the same role as natural leather but with less cost.

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Aleksy Kazmer

Aleksy is a full-time blogger born and raised in Warsaw. After earning a degree in MS English from Oxford University, he began utilizing his skills as a content writer to express what he’s most passionate about. Whether it's home improvement, decor, furniture, cleaning products, or DIY projects. Aleksy has a natural curiosity to pursue hidden tips and share them with readers.