Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Best Leather for Pets and Kids

February 7, 2008

A common question that we get is which is the best leather for furniture when you have pets and or kids?

The answer may surprise you….

First, virtually ALL leather is good for kids and pets compared to virtually all fabrics for the very reason that you would choose leather for your car seats over fabric. Leather is less likely to stain, tear or smell. While nothing is impossible to mess up, leather will stand the test of time far greater than most fabrics.

If you go to your local store, most salespeople are going to tell you that a protected leather is going to be the best for high traffic/wear environments. What’s sometimes confusing is that they are not always clear on what they mean by “protected” and in some cases their lack of clarity is intentional.

Why? Well, it’s to their advantage to be confusing in case you ever have a problem they can say, “Oh, we meant the OTHER kind of protected leather”. So, what are the different kinds?

The first is what is traditionally a protected leather. This is a leather that, in the dying process, is finished so that it is very hard to scratch. It can be a corrected leather or a top grain and have this protective finish. Now, this does not make it impervious to wear and tear but it does make it very durable.

The second type of protection is an after market product that is applied to the leather, usually with a Teflon coating that makes the leather very hard to stain and very easy to clean. Most stores will sell this type of product for $30-$50 or include an extended warranty that covers tears and stains for 5 years at a cost of $100 per piece or $200-$300 for a full set of furniture. (Please note: no matter what the salesperson tells you, these plans typically cover stains and tears only. Pet damages and scratches are almost never covered.)

Obviuosly, combining these two ‘protections” will give you the best of both worlds.

There is another kind of leather that is also very good for kids and pets and we are often surprised that salespeople don’t recommend this leather. It’s called a pull-up leather and although you may not know the name, you have almost certainly seen it many times. A pull-up leather is one where when you scratch it with your finger, the mark shows and then can be rubbed back into the leather. The most common example is a bomber jacket which of course shows the marks of use over time and these marks blend in to give that great broken in look that is so great about nice leathers.

The reason this is good for pets and kids? Well, simply, they help get that broken in look faster. And because the leather is supposed to show the scratches, a lot less anxiety for their parents along the way. They blend right in like they’re supposed to. And pull ups can use the after market products also to give you the double layer of protection, something we highly recommend.

The only leather furniture that we can say immediately should not be considered is a suede or nubuck leather. These leathers absorb water, smells, and pretty much anything else. Thankfully, very few leather furniture pieces come in this type of leather.

Aside from those, the great appeal of leather furniture is that as long as you take care of it, a quality set of leather furniture will last years and if built well, decades.