Guide to Buying The Perfect Leather Sofa

A beautiful leather sofa can add appealing style and extreme comfort to your living room or den. However, it is important to know what to look for when buying a couch in order to get the most comfort and long lasting durability out of your investment. Use our guide to find the perfect leather couch to suit you and your family’s lifestyle and budget.

Leather Sofa 1

Why Leather?

Leather is unlike any other material. It is not only durable, cleanable, and long-lasting but it adds richness and beauty to a room like no other. Leather has a raw, natural look that manufactured products simply cannot match.

The purchase of leather furniture is a great investment. Leather offers extreme durability because it doesn’t tear, burn, or puncture easily; it’s also simple to keep clean. If leather furniture is cared for properly, it can last for over 20 years instead of the four or five years that other materials average.

Leather is strong yet soft; age will improve its feel and appearance, as use brings out its natural patina. One misconception about leather is that it is not appropriate in homes with young children or pets. This simply is not true. Since leather is far denser than woven fabric, the likelihood of your children or pets damaging it is remote.

Leather Furniture Buying Guide

Before you go shopping for furniture, know exactly how much space you are working with. Measuring the areas you would like to put a leather couch or leather chair can help to save you a great deal of time. You don’t want to get home with new leather furnishings and find you do not have enough space to fit them in your living room or den.

Avoiding this type of hassle is easy when you write down accurate measurements to take with you when shopping for your furnishings. If you are planning to purchase a leather recliner, remember to include additional measurements for the reclining action to take place. While some recliners can be placed against the wall, others must be away from the wall and used as a free standing piece for allowing the reclining action to work without interruption.

After size considerations, you’ll want to take a look at frame, suspension, cushions, leather type/color and couch style. We also have a list of recommended brands/manufacturers you’ll want to take a look at.

Frame construction


The frame your sofa is constructed upon is incredibly important. Look for a wooden frame that is made of solid hardwood or kiln dried plywood. Kiln drying removes most of the moisture content wood has, making it stable and preventing it from splitting. Softwood, on the other hand, is less durable and will often warp over time.

Suspension/ Support

When purchasing a sofa, find out about the types of coils used for support as well – tempered steel is best, and any other option should be researched to determine the pros and cons.

A few other questions that you could ask:

  1. What thickness of wire is used? The thicker the more support offered.
  2. How much space is between the springs on the frame? If the springs are placed far apart then it is cheaper to build with less support and a buckling effect will eventually occur from the suspension failing over a short period of time.
  3. Are perimeter edge wires used to stabilize the frame and allow the springs not to roll?

Below lists 4 common types of suspension used in sofas, from worst to best.

4. Webbing Suspension

This method is the easiest and cheapest way to add suspension to a frame. Nylon/rubber webbing is woven vertically and horizontally together from rail to rail and stapled to the frame, similar to a lawn chair. This nylon webbing sags over time and does not have memory like a spring does.

3. Sinuous or Zigzag springs


This type of spring system is probably the most common system used in the furniture industry from fabric to leather manufacturers. A metal wire that zigzags is connected vertically from the front rail to the back rail with metal clips stapled to the top of the frame rail. This method is less costly to build then the previous systems.

2. Drop-in springs

Drop-in springs are basically a box spring unit similar to what is used in a mattress. One single cone spring machine built unit is wired together in seat sections (width of a seat cushion).

1. 8-way Hand-Tied Coil spring suspension

The best type of suspension. This consists of an heavy gauge, double cone shaped spring secured, to the bottom of the sofa base usually on polypropylene foundation. A row of steel bands are added horizontally and vertical to reinforce the polypropylene and “L” locked to the frame by nailing or with screws. This type of construction is labor intensive and more costly but when this is finished it has a fantastic benefit of weight distribution unlike other methods and virtually zero stress on the frame rails. The technique makes the “ride” or comfort outstanding and increasing longevity for the furniture by many years.

Seat cushions

Another large factor you should consider when purchasing a sofa is the quality of the cushions, and to a lesser extent, the back pillows. If you have a choice, buy a sofa with loose cushions because of benefits we covered earlier. If this is not an option on a sofa you like, then be sure and get a HR foam cushion, which stands for “High Resilience” so you can assure yourself of wear ability.

Some manufactures use standard poly foam cushions (not HR foam) which are not recommended for durability.

HR foam is a basic cushion and has a Dacron wrap for comfort and inserted into the seat cushions. It is better if the cushions are bagged/sewn in a muslin ticking for added durability, but it does add to the cost.

The density rating of furniture foam is expressed as a two digit number which may range from 18-35. In the production of foam, there are two basic ingredients: Urethane chemical-that is, the foam, and air.

The more chemical that exists in the foam material, the higher its density rating will be. In the above example, the 1.8 rating means that there is 1.8 pounds of chemical in each cubic foot of foam material. A cubic foot is equal to an area that is 12″ x 12″ x 12″. This particular foam would be rather low in density and would not be a good material to use in seat cushions alone.

Choosing a Leather

Many people choose a leather sofa according to their lifestyle. For example, if you have children, selecting a type of leather that is easy to clean and is stain resistant is a good idea. Read our guide to leather to choose the right type of leather for your sofa.

Many styles of leather furniture have special finishes applied during manufacturing that provides a great amount of protection from spills and stains. However, some resistance and finishes are stronger than others.

Leather with a heavier finish will have fewer problems with stains and spills can be easily wiped off with a damp cloth. Learning more about the kinds of leather that have a heavier finish is important for helping you make the best choices.

Many people choose pigmented leather for the finish that provides the most protection against spills and stains. Bear in mind the colors of pigmented leather are not as vivid. Pigmented leather is specifically manufactured to be more resistant against scratches and fading. Pigmented leather furnishings usually cost less, but do not feel as soft as some other types of leather.

Beware Of Fake Leather Materials

leather sectionalWatching out for imitation leather material is important for getting your money’s worth and for knowing the furnishings you take home will be durable and long lasting. Bonded leather is an example of a material that is frequently used in furniture upholstery manufacturing. While bonded leather may look nice, you should know this material is not pure leather. Bonded materials are made from vinyl, polyurethane and some real leather. Bonded leather is easier to tear and scratch and does not age well like true leather does. Taking the time to research about the manufacturing history behind the leather furnishings you may be considering is extremely important. Learning more through this type of research can also be a great way to find cool styles you may not have known were out there. Inspiration for creative ideas can come from you taking the time to research about the furniture you are considering.

Choosing a Style

leather furniture

Choosing a style that will fit into your home decor is essential for increased decorative appeal and for the promotion of aesthetic comfort. Many styles are available, making your choices easier and more enjoyable. The 70’s look is extremely popular when it comes to the living room or den with leather furnishings. Choosing vintage leather furniture can allow any room to appear more comforting and professionally designed. Vintage styles usually offer softer leather and little stain resistance. However, the leather vintage sofa you choose can add a great level of decorative appeal. Consider whether you would prefer a high back chair or couch for creating an early Parisian appeal. Maybe you would prefer to choose the cabin den look that provides an extreme feeling of coziness. Creating a room that is inviting and intensely appealing can start with the leather furnishings you use in it.

Unique Hand Crafted Design Makes A Huge Difference

Leather Sofa

The uniqueness of a couch, or chair upholstered with leather, depends a great deal on the hand crafted details. Hand tufting creates depth and helps to provide a greater cushioning effect for comfort. Some pieces have hand tufting in the back and on the sides for creating a unique and stylish look. The couch that you can place in the center of a room may have neat hand tufting.

Many pieces might also have nail head trim. Nail head trims offer a border effect that creates a more finished look. Nail head trim is generally located on the arm rests and around the top of lower skirting. The choices you make for this type of decorative craftsmanship depends wholly on your personal taste. Traditional vintage styles like Chesterfield incorporate tufting for stylish design and increased comfort levels. You might also consider uniformed pleating on arm rests of couches and chairs as an additional decorative detail as well.

The couch you choose may have two large cushions or three smaller ones. Many people choose three cushions simply for the look. However, bearing in mind the level of comfort for the persons sitting on the couch is important when choosing the number of cushions you would prefer. Many styles offer one large bench style seat that is free from hand tufts or seams. Bench styles are chosen by many people for the sleeping comfort they offer.

Some styles offer the versatility of a sectional while being a traditional size couch, especially those styles that have a chaise lounge built into one end of the couch. Some couches also include inclining seats on either end or side by side.

Selecting For Home Comfort Is Important

leather sofa

Your living room might benefit from sofas that include wide arm rests. Wide arm rests can be bordered in nail head trim, but most styles are made with a pleating trim. You might also consider the modern look that a couch without arm rests can provide. Many styles of leather furnishings offer rounded cushioning without arm rests.

A couch without arm rests and rounded cushions is the perfect focal point for the modern living room. Choose also from ottomans that offer extended comfort and an additional element of decorative appeal. Some ottomans are square with small casters on the bottom while others are set on pedestals for providing an ergonomic design. You might consider the leather chairs that are on pedestals for adding an even greater modern design.

Other Remarks

Placing Your Couch

When it comes to measuring an area for a new leather sectional couch, you may find placement a little challenging. Many homes don’t have enough room for using a longer leather sectional couch. If your rooms are large enough to use a full size sectional, you might also consider how you would be able to use it in sections as well. Bear in mind the classic letter ‘L’ shape of most sectionals generally offer two smaller sections that can be separated and used as chair seating. While measuring the space you have for a leather sectional sofa, always remember to think about the areas you could also use separated sections at. The person living in an apartment that would love the comfort of a leather sofa in a sectional design should know smaller, apartment size sectionals are available in many styles and colors.