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Does Real Leather Stretch on the Back?

By Jeff Frank


When considering a leather reclining sofa, is there concern that real leather will stretch on the back? 

Our sofa back will be exposed in an open plan. One store was indicating that many sofas come with alternative backs for the long term wear. 

Also, generally how long do battery pack charges last on power sofas. Would we be better off with a manual mechanism if we do not have power in that area?

Ann G.

Dec. 14, 2020


1) You should not have a problem with real leather as long as the sofa is properly upholstered, is not exposed to direct sunlight and receives periodic cleaning and maintenance.

2) If you are concerned about unsightly wiring across your floor, you are probably better off going with a manual mechanism.  There have been some recent announcements of wireless battery pack technology, but I am not sure where that is currently available.

3) Your store’s mention of “alternative backs for long term wear” probably refers to the fact that many recliner backs are removable for reduced shipping costs (and fitting through narrow doorways.)

  • The problem with real leather is that there is a very strong probability that a replacement leather back would look completely different from the other two backs on your sofa.
  •  Reclining sofas usually made in three separate pieces. Real leather is, by far, the most likely material to have poor dye lot matching.
    • If your leather is a high quality natural leather (not embossed with an artificial grain pattern) there is a very high probability that your grain pattern on the replacement back will be completely different than on your other two backs.

4) The leather back should not be your primary concern. With most reclining sofas, the leather will far outlast the seat cushions. Most popularly priced mass produced reclining sofas are currently made with non-removable seats. When the seat foam cushioning wears out and loses its resiliency, typically in 3 – 5 years, your furniture will become far less comfortable.

Non-removable seats cannot be replaced without taking apart the entire sofa. That is very expensive and few people choose to replace non-removable cushions. At that point, the money you have spent on leather that will last for 20+ years will be wasted.

5) There are reclining sofas available with removable seats. Typically they cost substantially more than those with non-removable seats, but they will last far longer. If you are spending several hundred dollars extra for “real” leather, getting high quality removable seat cushions (preferably spring down) can triple the lifespan of your furniture. When the cushions cores do eventually wear out they can be replaced at a reasonable cost.

6) Both manual and power mechanisms should outlast non-removable seat cushions. If you are going for long term usage (10+ years) the manual mechanisms are the better choice.

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