Leather Sofa Buyers Guide

Most of us spend a lot of our time sitting on the couch, whether we’re reading, watching TV, sleeping, or just hanging out with family. You might think any sofa will do, but if you’re considering a leather sofa, you’ve come to the right place. For all the information on choosing just the right one, take a look at our guide before you buy.

Types of Leather

Top Grain

Top grain leather comes from the top of the hide and is considered to be the highest quality. It can be processed into full-grain, without buffing or sanding - this means it’ll have the natural markings on it. Otherwise, it’ll be corrected-grain leather, which will be smoother and more uniform, but without the markings.

Split Leather

Split leather is made from the lower layer of the hide. You won’t see as many natural markings and will be pleased to know that this is less expensive. However, since it may be covered in a protective coating, it will be stiffer and not as durable.

Nubuck and Suede

There’s also nubuck and suede, which are similar, but nubuck is a little higher quality. Nubuck will also be more durable, although both are very resistant to stains and water.

Full Grain

You may want to consider full-grain leather, too, which is very high quality and made from all layers of the hide. It’s definitely the most expensive and hardest to maintain, though, but it will last for years without fading.


Leather can also be classified based on how it’s treated. Pigmented leather is the type you’ll see most often for upholstery, mostly since it’s so durable. The polymer surface coating has the pigments that provide the most resistance to soiling, scuffing and fading.

Aniline Leather

This leather is the most natural in appearance, retaining some characteristics of the animal hide. It’s coloured only with dye and may have a surface coating to improve the appearance and give it a little more protection. You’ll see many types of marks and patterns, but be aware that this type of leather requires special treatment to keep it in good condition.


There’s also semi-aniline, which is more durable than aniline while still retaining its natural appearance. A light surface pigment will increase the durability and will add some colour, too.

Faux Leather

Faux leather, as the name suggests, isn’t really leather at all, but is actually made of vinyl. It will mimic the texture and look of leather without needing the same type of maintenance.

Styles of Leather Sofas


Traditional styles have a formal look and generally fit in better with ornate wooden types of furniture. Dark woods will match well with the neutral colours of brown or black.


The contemporary leather sofas will have clean lines and less curves and you’ll see more bold colours here, like white or red. It’s best to have lots of space, too, so the room doesn’t feel too cluttered, although these fit in well with many types of furniture.



In terms of the types you can buy, a three-seater leather sofa is what many people choose. This will fit your whole family on it, although you may want something bigger or something that matches more with the house.


Fit together a sectional sofa in whatever way works best for the layout of your home. The versatility is wonderful since you are able to join the pieces together in places a traditional three-seater wouldn’t fit. There will be more space, too, if you don’t need a formal design style.


For a dorm, bedroom, or sunroom, a loveseat is perfect. They’re great accents and work wonderfully in cramped spaces.


These long chairs have an extended footrest, making them somewhat like a daybed; use this in place of a recliner or as an accent piece.

Sofa Beds

Finally, you also have the option to choose a leather sofa bed. These are heavier, but are useful and will save a lot of space. These days, they’re as comfortable as regular beds.

Factors to Consider

Cushion Type

Cushions are usually filled with dense polyurethane foam. This makes them supportive, firm and durable, although you might want natural down cushions or with synthetic foam for something softer. Be careful, though, since these are easy to squish out of shape.


Check factors like the grain and durability to be sure that whatever sofa you have will suit your lifestyle. This also includes the style of the room you want to put it in and if you have family or kids playing around. Especially if you have young kids, you may not want a lighter colour as they are harder to take care of. Pigmented leather usually has the greatest protection.


Price is always important and it depends on the grade and quality of the leather itself. Leather lasts longer than normal sofas, so it may be a good investment.

Seat Cushions

You’ll be sitting on these cushions for the foreseeable future, so it’s important to consider how they’re made and the suspension beneath them. For the most comfort possible, think about what will benefit you the most.


Seat suspension can be either 8-way hand tied, sinuous steel, or Pirelli webbing. The 8-way hand tied type will have lots of comfort and support, while the sinuous steel will be stable and more uniform when you sit. Pirelli webbing is the lowest cost option and the most desirable for long-term support.

Cushion Foam

Consider leather tone before you buy, but also consider the density of the foam and what the cushions are made of. Thicker density foam will be more comfortable, although if there’s only foam inside, you might find it sinks faster. With inner spring cushions, the foam will be a little firmer and there will be more bounce back over the years.

Care and Cleaning

Leather sofas are a little different from your fabric couches and require a different type of cleaning. You can’t just wipe them down and in addition, you wouldn’t want to use harsh cleaners if you want your sofa to last.

Basic Cleaning

For basic upkeep and maintenance, first, try vacuuming with a soft brush; this will get all the outside dirt off the sofa. From there, create a simple cleaning solution with equal parts water and white vinegar and maybe some commercial leather cleaner, too. Wipe the couch with the solution and dry it with a clean towel.

You may also use some moisturizing soap and water, or even something as simple as baby wipes. Regardless of what you do, it’s important to clean it every now and again to keep it in top shape.


Condition your sofa with a conditioner to prevent dryness and cracking in the future. Do this simply with one-part white vinegar and two parts linseed or flaxseed oil. Just leave this on overnight and buff the next day for a shine.


There are all different types of stains you may be dealing with, but as usual, blot before you try to clean it and get as much grease or liquid out as you can. For anything dark, lemon juice and cream of tartar can help, while for grease stains, use baking soda.


You’ll be using your sofa for a long time, so you’d want something that’s not only comfortable, but that will fit your lifestyle, too. With this buying guide meant to give you tips from the type of leather, to the most comfortable seat you can buy, now you are better prepared to go out and buy your leather sofa with confidence.