Steve Sechrest, COCOCOHome – Co-founder, Charlotte NC
HOW TO CARE for Leather
When you’ve narrowed down your choice to the perfect leather for you, you want to protect your investment. But where to start? Leather can come in a variety of dyeing processes, and finishes and the right care for a nubuck will vary from caring for a protected aniline leather.
The large majority of the furniture we create is made in leather and many of those pieces, are made in natural grain, aniline-dyed leathers from our partners Moore & Giles. By and large, these leathers are simply high-quality hides which have been immersion-dyed in the drum, and then treated with waxes and oils to create a characteristic appearance and feel. Leather is very durable and hard-wearing, evolving over time with each mark and burnish that develops a beautiful patina reflecting the unique environment of your own home. That’s the incredible quality of leather – no two hides are the same, no two dye batches are exactly the same, and it usually looks better and more expensive the longer you have it. Natural grain leathers “wear in” rather than “wear out.” If you can embrace that process, you will set yourself up for many, many years of enjoyment of your leather furniture.
TYPES OF LEATHER
Full-Grain Leather: Aniline leathers usually contain a wax finish that will self-heal with a bit of buffing. This includes pull-up leathers which are treated with oils and waxes, as well as nubuck leathers, which are distressed and buffed for a velvety softness. Examples of full-grain, aniline plus (protected) leather include Mont Blanc, Berkshire, Eastwood, and Brentwood.
Unprotected aniline is sensitive to staining but has a luxurious feel to it.
Suedes or Nubuck Leather: Leathers such as Storm or Burnham by Moore & Giles contain a tiny bit of wax to help repair liquid but overall are fairly unprotected. But these are a natural material that will patina, burnish and blend out over time.
Performance Leather: Aniline protected leather is stain-resistant, and more uniform in appearance than pure aniline. These leathers may be labeled semi-aniline, aniline plus pigment or pigmented leather. The following are resistant to scratching but will not self-heal:
- Crest Leather’s Williamsburg, Saloon, Dante, Bronx.
- Carroll Leather’s Run Wyld, Road Warrior, Child’s Play , Everlast, Myriad, Cheyenne
- Connaut’s Florence
Semianiline leather is aniline-dyed and topped with a layer of pigment color. It has a soft feel like pure aniline leather but is a little more durable due to the protective pigment coating. Other protected leathers are coated with thicker layers of pigment and polymer. They have a stiffer feel and stand up to more wear and tear.
BEEN A WHILE? DUST.
Leather can start to look aged just with dust settling into the corners. In all reality, leather requires very little upkeep but give the piece a wipe down before doing anything else. Start by using a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to pick up dust in the cracks and corners. Then wipe the leather with a clean, dry lint-free cloth (microfiber is great for holding on to dust) to get the rest of the dust off.
WHEN DO I NEED TO CONDITION MY LEATHER?
We’ll let you in on a little secret: less is more. Customers will sometimes call the day their furniture arrives to ask what they should put on it. My answer is invariably: “Your butt.”
All jokes aside, there is actually no need to condition your leather when it arrives! Most leathers have already been conditioned to last and the heat from a simple rub with your fingers will activate the wax on the leather to buff out light surface marks. In most cases, small nicks and marks can be taken care of with a little elbow grease, a magic leather cloth (to be included on all Moore & Giles orders in 2020), and maybe a tiny bit of No. 33 Conditioner. If the mark persists, consider lightly going over it with a heat gun or even a hair dryer (6 – 10 inches away from the leather). Most leathers will darken slightly where you hit it with the heat gun, then you can buff it again to blend. Keep in mind that leather conditioners will often darken leather after application. This will dissipate over time, more so in areas that are being sat on. You may want to test first on an inconspicuous area of the couch.
Set up your furniture for a long life by placing leather pieces away from direct sunlight or next to vents and heat sources. These scenarios speed up the drying out of the leather, as well as cause fading. If you notice spots that appear dry or cracked
However, some leathers already have a more matte or dry appearance when you first receive them. Leathers such as Burnham, Storm, Cambridge, Winchester, Old Attic, Berkshire, and Brentwood begin as more of a matte look.
At times our technicians at COCOCO must deal with scratches that come from moving furniture around, similar to what you might encounter in your home. The before-and-after photos of the arm of a scratched Arden show how easy it is to restore surface marks. With a heat gun blast and a bit of buffing it blended right out.
Check out these helpful videos by Moore & Giles showing the durability and care of natural leathers
WHAT ABOUT STAINS?
We love this guide by Moore & Giles Leathers for a one-page reference on leather care. We recommend bookmarking this page:
If you are still having trouble, feel free to give us a call at +1 (704) 892-6680 for some guidance on difficult stains and marks.