We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best
products—learn more about
our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
A leather sofa is a stylish, high-end addition to any living space, and with proper care, these pieces can last for many years.
When shopping for your leather sofa, Ariel Richardson, Founder and Lead Designer at ASR Design Studio recommends carefully reading the verbiage of the product before purchasing. “You could think you are getting a real leather sofa, but it in fact could be ‘genuine’ [bonded leather] or faux,” he says. “A good tell for real leather is to lift the sofa cushions—the bottom of the cushion is normally a fabric to minimize costs.”
While researching leather sofas for this piece, we considered factors such as the type of leather used, color options, cushion fill, and overall construction quality. The Pottery Barn Turner Square Arm Leather Sofa is our top pick thanks to its range of sizes and leather colors, as well as its high-end construction and comfy down-blend cushions.
Here are the best leather sofas.
Our best overall pick is the Pottery Barn Turner Square Arm Leather Sofa, which comes in several size and a wide range of leather colors. It’s extremely well-made, and its down-blend cushions offer a comfy yet supportive place to relax. If you’re specifically looking for a sleeper option, we recommend the Lark Manor Rasberry Rolled Arm Sofa Bed, which has a queen-size innerspring mattress to accommodate your guests.
Type of leather
For a piece that’ll stand the test of time, the pros say that real full-grain leather is hands-down the best material to choose. However, note that some of the customizable sofa options may also include nylon faux leather upholstery in places, explains Richardson. “For faux leather furniture, Definitely look for a vinyl that is commercial-grade so it will last you a little bit longer,” explains Richardson.
The experts explain the differences in types of leather:
Bonded leather: “Bonded leathers are made from a pulp of leather scraps, adhered to a fabric backing, coated in polyurethane, and embossed to look like leather grain,” says Betsy Moyer, co-founder of Retreat. “A sofa made of bonded leather will lead to a short lifespan, as inevitably that polyurethane coat will break down, causing the material to crack and flake.”
Note that bonded leathers can also go by the name “genuine leather,” so be sure to further research furniture with that label before making a purchase.
Full-grain leather: This kind of leather bears the natural lines and markings of the cowhide for an authentic appearance.
Top-grain leather: This is leather that’s been polished down for a smooth, uniform appearance. It’ll still display some unique markings and will develop more markings and a patina with wear.
Faux/vegan leather: “Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a polymer,” says Richardson from ASR Design Studio. “It can also be made from materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic.”
Leather dying process
Within these categories, there are three types of leather based on different dying and treatment processes.
Aniline leather: Also called “naked leather,” it has the most natural-looking aesthetic, but since it’s not coated with any polymers or pigments, it has a tendency to stain easily.
Semi-aniline leather: This kind of leather has a treated surface that makes it more resilient against wear and tear, but not as much of the natural texture shows through.
Protected pigmented: This type of leather is the most durable and commonly used type (it’s also used for car upholstery), but because of how it’s treated, it does not have the unique aesthetic quality of aniline leather.
For a top-quality leather sofa—or any type of sofa, for that matter—look for one with a solid kiln-dried wood frame. The process of kiln drying removes moisture so the wood won’t warp or crack over time. Plywood and particleboard are commonly used for frames, but those materials may not be as durable.
Look for a leather sofa with cushions that are stuffed with materials that offer a balance of plushness and support, such as springs or high-density foam with an outer layer of soft fibers or down feathers.
Richardson recommends a foam core surrounded by a plush down envelope. “This is more expensive but also more comfortable,” she says. “If you are allergic or sensitive to organic materials, then be sure to look for a synthetic down. If you want a really soft seat, consider feather-down cushions.”
Be sure to understand the proper way to clean a leather sofa before pulling out the vacuum or cleaning solution. To remove debris, use a brush tool for the cushions and a crevice tool for getting in the nooks and crannies between. Then, you can create a gentle cleaning solution by mixing a few drops of mild soap in a bowl of warm water.
For tough stains like grease or ink, blot up any access liquid first. Sprinkle grease spots with a layer of cornstarch and let sit for at least four hours (or overnight) to absorb the oil. For ink, swipe a damp cloth with mild bar soap, then gently wipe over the stain in a circular motion. Finally, you can use a leather conditioner to restore and maintain the suppleness of the sofa’s texture and protect it from future wear.
Peeling leather requires the help of a leather repair kit. The first step is to create a smooth surface, so you’ll want to scrub off the flaking bits with a cleaning brush and a mild cleaning solution. Then wipe it dry, wipe it with alcohol, and sand down the area with sandpaper. Follow the instructions of your repair kit for recoloring the damaged area.
Of course, the best solution is to invest in a real leather sofa that doesn’t peel in the first place. “Good quality leather won’t peel when properly cared for,” says Moyer from Retreat. “If your leather is cracking and flaking, it might be worth considering that you may have an inauthentic full-grain leather alternative.”
Conditioning is key. Follow the above steps for cleaning and be sure to condition your sofa every six to 12 months. In addition, you’ll also want to pay attention to sofa placement. “If possible, all leather should be kept out of heat and direct sunlight,” says Stephen Kuhl, CEO and Co-Founder of Burrow. “[This will help] avoid discoloration and peeling over time.”
The best leather sofas can last up to 20 or 25 years if they are very high quality and made of genuine leather. Faux-leather couches tend to only last about five years. You can also get more years out of your leather sofas by cleaning and conditioning them consistently.
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. She has a background in design and ample firsthand experience testing furniture, and while researching sofas for this article, she evaluated factors such as the type of leather used, color options, construction materials and techniques, as well as delivery options, product warranties, and more.
Additional research was done by Karen Tietjen, who enlisted the help of Burrow co-founder Stephen Kuhl, designer Ariel Richardson, and interior decorators Karina Lameraner and Betsy Moyer. They shared advice, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.