Leather is a good looking and luxurious furnishing[furniture designs] option, which is also highly durable, if the right kind of leather is picked for the right purpose.
The different kinds of leather are classified according to the origin of the leather; i.e. sheep, cowhide, buffalo, ox etc or by the tanning or manufacturing process that yields the finished product.
Additionally there is full grain leather that is considered top quality leather that is not altered beyond being tanned and the fur being removed.
Then there is top grain leather that may be of slightly inferior quality or which may have imperfections that are required to be concealed by virtue of an artificial grain.
One side of top grain would usually be fuzzy, however both sides of the leather being fuzzy usually indicates that it is suede leather. The different kinds of leather based on their processing methods are:
- Chrome tanned leathers are also sometimes referred to as wet blue leather since there is sometimes a blue tinge imparted to the leather by the chromium sulfate tanning process. Leather prepared using this tanning method is rendered soft, supple and durable. This kind of leather also retains its color or shape for a longer time.
- Since olden times, vegetable matter such as tree bark, tannin etc has been used to treat leather. Though this leather is supple, it does not tolerate water very well and can deteriorate in the presence of moisture.
- Synthetic tanned leather is made using artificial substances or polymers which are now losing favor because of the dangers posed by formaldehyde.
- Aldehyde-tanned leather is produced by using glutaraldehyde or oxazolidine compounds. This is also known as wet-white leather due to its pale cream or white color.
- Brain tanned leathers are made using a long and expensive process but these leathers turn out to be very soft and resistant to water.
- Chamois leather is made using cod and other oils.
- Alum tawed leather is another kind of leather which however is not very resistant to water. Very light shades of leather are possible using this method of processing.
- Rawhide is not usually suitable for furnishings or upholstery, because this is made by stretching the hide thin, and using lime to soak it and then drying it. Since it is stiff and brittle, it is usually used for making drums, leather cords, dog chews etc.