With so many different leather couches on offer, how do you ensure that what you’re buying is the real deal? We asked furniture manufacturer Coricraft to share their expertise about what exactly to look for and which questions to ask

Leather furniture is beautiful as well as practical as it withstands wear and tear and gains character as it ages. A genuine leather couch can transform a room but ensuring that it is genuine can be confusing.

Terms like bonded leather, faux leather, pleather and synthetic leather are used a lot, but, in the end, these are just different names for the same thing – imitation leather fabrics. Although they vaguely look like leather, and some feel surprisingly soft like leather, within a few years these couches can delaminate and even start to bubble.

Lee Reichman, Merchandising Director at Coricraft, says that however daunting the process may be, never be afraid to question the integrity of the product you’re buying. After all, you’re spending the money.

“Full grain leather, corrected leather, bi-cast…it can all seem like a minefield, but in truth, it’s really quite simple. Genuine leather is split into two parts during the tanning process – the top ‘grain’ and the bottom ‘split’. Grain leather products are super strong, while split leather products, although still genuine leather, are much weaker and tend to break more easily. There are various types of grain leathers, including full grain leather, corrected leather and semi-corrected grain leather. Split leathers include pigmented or finished splits and bi-cast leather, which is actually coated in a type of plastic”, says Lee.

In essence, any products made from these leathers are genuine leather products. However, keep in mind that those crafted from grain leathers are superior to those made from the split.

Lee explains that when making a purchase the best course of action is for customers to ask their retailer directly about the construction, fabric, leather and warranty.

“You can also ask to see a sample swatch of the leather,” she suggests. Put the swatch against the couch and check that the swatch you’re looking at matches all the parts of the couch, front, back and sides. Also look at the back and side panels on the couch, if it is real grain the leather panels should be relatively small, if the panels are large the grain may not be natural.”

Genuine leather couches will not feel completely smooth – the tiny imperfections are due to the natural grain, proving its authenticity. Bonded leather, on the other hand, is mostly plastic, with some leather sprinkled onto the back to make it look and feel more natural.

For more information coricraft.co.za