Different Types of Leather Furniture: Which Is Best?

photo of a leather reclining chair


Leather furniture is a favorite amongst homeowners as it’s a durable, versatile, and sophisticated choice for home furnishings. No matter whether you’re looking to decorate the smallest living space or an enormous family room, leather furniture conveys a feeling of comfort, quality, and smart design. But did you know there are many types of leather for furniture?

Today, we’re discussing types of leather for furniture to show you what is available on today’s market and which options are the best for you. Looking for more animal-friendly options? We’re looking at vegan faux leather, as well! 

Types of Leather Furniture

When it comes to types of leather furniture, not all options are created equally. In fact, not all leather even has to be real leather! In today’s market, there are 9 primary types of leather for furniture that you’re likely to find. Each has their own share of pros and cons, but there are some that tend to stand out as the best options for furniture like sofas or a leather zero gravity chair.

These types of leather for furniture are:

  • Full grain leather
  • Top grain leather
  • Split grain leather
  • Nubuck leather
  • Bonded leather
  • Bi-cast leather
  • Faux leather
  • Aniline leather
  • Royalin leather

Full Grain Leather

Starting out our list of the different types of leather furniture available today is full grain leather. While these are the most authentic types of leather furniture you can get, they also come at the highest cost and often sacrifice comfort in the name of authenticity. Processing for full grain leather is limited to hair removal and being soaked in a natural dye (most often a vegetable dye).

While it softens over time, it starts out quite tough and may not make the most comfortable option when it comes to types of leather for furniture.

Top Grain Leather

Whether you’ve been researching different types of leather furniture like sofas or exploring zero gravity chair leather options, you’ve no doubt come across the term “top grain leather.”  Similar in purity to full grain leather, top grain leather is a little more polished and treated, allowing it to be softer and more comfortable immediately, rather than taking time to break in. Furthermore, top grain leather shares the same durability and versatility of full grain leather, making it the ideal choice for different types of leather furniture.

For example, a top grain leather zero gravity chair like the Svago Newton model offers the most comfortable feel on the market. These luxury zero gravity chair models offer soft, buttery leather upholstery that envelopes users in style, durability, and versatility that can match many different interior design styles.

Split Grain Leather

Split grain leather is the remaining hide section used after the “top” layer is removed. While it typically comes at a lower price point, these types of leather for furniture can be more difficult to maintain than higher-quality leather and will most likely be harder in texture. For pieces like a real leather zero gravity chair, it’s best to stick with models like the Svago Swivel zero gravity chair as these are top grain types of leather furniture built for optimal quality and comfort.

Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather may be a term that is unfamiliar to you, even though you’ve likely seen it before. These types of leather furniture use just the rawhide from cattle. The hide is sanded and given a suede-like appearance and texture, but comes at the cost of durability. These types of leather for furniture are known for their fragility and require additional leather treatments like waterproofing to maintain.

Bonded Leather

Next on our list of different types of leather furniture comes bonded leather. Given a closer sense of high quality leather looks at a lower price, bonded leather is made from scraps of other leather products that is then adhered together. Typically, bonded leather types of leather furniture are only 10-20% leather but may give the appearance and scent of higher-quality leather options. It’s not a bad option, but doesn’t maintain the same level of quality as top grain leather furniture choices.

Bi-Case Leather

Another potentially new entry into your vocabulary of different types of leather furniture is bi-cast leather. These types of leather for furniture are actually split grain with a coating of color polyurethane to give it a closer appearance to top grain leather pieces. While it most commonly costs much less than top grain leather recliners or sofas, it’s also very prone to peeling and cracking without consistent treatments. This can be very important for choices like zero gravity leather upholstery as it has a major impact on upkeep and how long it may last.

Faux Leather

Where traditional types of leather furniture use animal hide, faux leather is an animal-friendly leather furniture alternative that has exploded in popularity. There are generally two types of materials considered vegan synthetic hide or faux leather. The first is polyurethane (PU), made by coating a base fabric with a flexible polymer that is then treated to resemble natural animal hide. The second is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic fabric backing topped with chemical layers and plasticizers sealing in the fabric.

Thanks to advances in technology, there are top-quality faux leather furniture options available that rival the durability and quality of real leather pieces. For example, you may find options for faux leather zero gravity chairs like the Svago ZGR that give you the same great look and quality of top grain leather alternatives. Be sure to check for the quality of materials for each manufacturer, but faux leather has come a long way and is no longer the material of decades past!

Aniline Leather

If you see different types of leather furniture coming in a variety of colors that aren’t naturally occurring, chances are you’re looking at aniline leather. These types of leather for furniture are dyed inside of a large drum during the manufacturing process. Aniline leather will still show the initial hide markings, but the texture will be softer than other less-processed full grain leather upholstery alternatives.

Royalin Leather

Last up on our list of different types of leather furniture comes royalin leather. Chances are if you’re not living in Europe, you may be unfamiliar with this option. These types of leather for furniture are a material with notable high markings including scrapes, scars, and a pebbled finish. Furniture pieces with royalin leather are most often extremely expensive and require a fair amount of extra maintenance to protect them from damage.

As you’ve learned, there are lots of different types of leather furniture to choose from! Which is best for you? Most often, top grain leather is considered the premium choice for high-end upholstery such as zero gravity chair leather. With today’s technology, however, you may find some faux leather options that are equally durable and of high quality for a more animal-friendly option. Whether you’re shopping for a sofa or choosing a zero gravity chair, materials matter. Be sure to select high-quality materials so your investment will last.

Want to learn more about zero gravity chairs and how they might fit your lifestyle? Check out these resources: