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Does Ashley furniture use real leather on their furniture?

By Jeff Frank

Ashley uses two different types of “leathers” on their furniture. Bonded leather and leather match.

These materials are not the same as “all top grain leather” made from animal hides.

  • Bonded leather is the result of a synthetic faux leather facing material bonded to a backing made up of crushed leather particles made from hide scraps. These are mixed with adhesives, rolled flat and bonded to the synthetic facing.
    • Salespeople will often point out that bonded leather is 15 or 20% “real” leather. They imply this makes the material better than faux leathers that are 100% synthetic. That is not the case.
      • Good quality 100% synthetic faux leathers will feel just as comfortable and last far longer. They do not peel like bonded leathers.
      • Do not buy bonded leather from any furniture company. It is a flawed product that has generated thousands of complaints from consumers over the past decade.
      • When you read reviews complaining about “peeling” leather those are made with bonded leather “Real” leather made from hides does not peel.
      • There are dozens of other Quora articles warning about the deficiencies of bonded leathers.
    • Much of Ashley’s “leather” furniture is actually “leather match.”
      • This is a combination of “corrected” top grain leathers on the parts of the seating that are touched (seats, backs, inside arms) and a matching synthetic faux leather on the parts that are not touched (backs, bases, outside arms.)
      • Although not as cheap as bonded leather, leather match allows furniture companies to offer “leather” furniture at a lower price than if the entire piece was made from “corrected” top grain leathers and at a much lower price than if the entire piece was made from uncorrected top grain leathers.
      • Leather match will not peel the way bonded leather does, but there are some long term concerns to be aware of.
        • When new, the corrected leather and the synthetic faux leather parts of the furniture will look identical.
        • As the furniture ages, however, the real leather and the synthetic will expand or contract differently. This can lead to open seams where the two materials are joined.
        • Leather and faux leather also age differently. The perfect color match when the furniture is new may not be as perfect a few years later.
      • My description of leather match states that the “real leather” part is made from “corrected” leathers.
        • These are hides that coated with opaque dyes to remove all blemishes and match the color of the synthetic faux leather it will be matched with. This removes all natural graining patterns and texture.
        • The hides are then artificially engraved with a grain to match the faux leather.
        • A protective clear polyurethane coating is then added to the top. This makes protected leathers less likely to stain and easier to clean than “natural” leathers.
        • If the leather is deeply scratched all the way through the protective coating it is more difficult to repair than non-protected leathers.
      • Corrected leather is the cheapest type of genuine top grain leather available. It allows the use of inexpensive hides that originally had large numbers of imperfections and flaws since they are all covered up in processing.
      • Better quality “unprotected” top grain leathers allow you to see and feel the original hide grain and texture. They are usually softer and more comfortable.
        • If cleaned and maintained properly, the look and feel of natural leathers will actually improve with age and last 50 years or more.

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