Top Tips For Leather Furniture


We caught up with Gerhard van Deventer, CEO of Incanda about what to look out for when buying leather furniture and how best to maintain your piece once you’ve bought it.

What should I know first before buying a piece of leather furniture?

There are three basic components to a leather couch.

  1. The frame and construction
  2. The foam, lining and inners
  3. The leather

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for the average shopper to ascertain the quality aspects of these components. The frame should preferably be joined using solid timber with 25mm thickness, which is screwed and glued together, as opposed to staple gun joining. The foam must be high density and the filling of inners must be hollow fibre or new chipped foam (no secondhand chips). The most important aspect however is the leather. It must be a natural, full grain leather that has been drum dyed for maximum colour fastness and longevity. There are a range of processed and fake leathers on the market, which may look beautiful, but they won’t last.

Here are a few hints to help you: 

  • The frame:  Firstly, make sure the couch is heavy. The heavier the couch, the better the chance of solid construction.
  • The foam: Make sure the padding on the arms and back is sufficient. If you can feel the wood at all, stay away.
  • The leather: Try and open up the cushions and have a look if the leather is dyed more or less the same colour as it is on the outside. If it is, it means the leather has been drum dyed and not just sprayed on top. The latter will peel away over time and must be avoided. Any leather that looks shiny and has a plastic feel must be avoided. Leather without any natural scratches and marks is also suspect, as it means the leather has probably been processed, losing some of its natural qualities.

What is a better investment: a leather couch or an upholstered sofa?

If it is good quality leather, it will last a lifetime – much longer than any fabric. But from a decor perspective, you probably don’t want to have only leather in your house, so in the end the best option is to combine the two. Just remember that the quality differences between fabrics can be vast. Ask the consultant about the number of rubs guaranteed on your fabric. The higher the value, the better the quality.

What are the best ways to look after and maintain leather furniture?

Good quality leather needs minimal maintenance, as it is relatively stain and scratch resistant. Always use a damp cloth to clean your couch before you do anything else. It is advisable to treat your couch with a leather food every few months. Any product with a beeswax base is normally safe. Avoid excessive direct sunlight, as this will definitely have a fading effect on the leather.

The big question: what should I do if I spill red wine on leather?  Keep calm and wipe it off with a wet cloth! Unless it is open-grain leather with no surface sealant on top, it shouldn’t leave a stain.

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