Does Southern Motion’s Warranty Cover the Fabric?

by | Nov 8, 2021 | Ask the Expert, Furniture Brands, Furniture History, Furniture Sales Tactics, Furniture Warranties, Leather Furniture | 0 comments

Question:

We purchased a faux leather sofa from Southern Motion. After 4 years, It began to disintegrate. The sofa is peeling at the folds and where your head hits the fabric. 

When we bought the sofa we were told our warranty would cover the fabric. Now the warranty company said the humidity in our home was too low so the fabric is cracking. How do they know the humidity level of our home? 

April 15, 2021

Answer:

The problem you are describing is not exclusive to Southern Motion.

You have “bonded leather,” which has been the source of thousands of complaints in the 10 years since it was introduced. Since that time it has become the most popular material sold with mass produced reclining furniture.

Actually, you are lucky to have received four years of use. Many complaints state that their bonded leather began peeling within one to three years. Sometimes even less than one year.

Warranties do not cover problems with bonded leather. The excuse about humidity causing the cracking is just a convenient excuse. Whether or not that was a factor, furniture warranties all have very strong protection (for the retailers) against any bonded leather complaints.

The good news is that, after ten years, major retailers are finally beginning to remove bonded leather from their lineups.

Bonded leathers are gradually being replaced by new composite faux leathers made with a combination of polyurethane and polyester.

  • High quality vinyl and polyurethane faux leathers have been available since the 1960s.
  • Polyester faux leathers have also been available, but were rarely sold because they did not mimic the look and feel of real leather very well.

The success of bonded leather was due to the fact that it does contain some real leather (10 – 20%.) This allowed retail salespeople to sell it as “partially real leather” with the implication that this was better than 100% synthetic.

They never mentioned that the only “real leather” in the material was made up of granulated hide scraps that were chopped up, mixed with adhesives, rolled flat and used for the backing only. You cannot see or feel any of the “real” leather used in bonded leathers.

Granulated leather is a terrible backing material, frequently resulting in the peeling you have observed. It serves no positive purpose, other than to make the fabric easier to sell.

In the past ten years, synthetic leather technology has greatly improved. Recently, mills have introduced various combinations of composite synthetic leathers made from a combination of polyurethane and polyester.

These are less expensive than the 100% polyurethanes and have achieved a look and feel that is indistinguishable from bonded leather for most people.

A large number of consumers are now aware of bonded leather problems. They are refusing to buy new furniture made with bonded leathers.

Unlike ten years ago, most furniture purchasers, looking at popularly priced reclining seating, now appear to be willing to accept 100% synthetic composite faux leathers that look and feel comparable to bonded leathers.

As a result, many of the major retailers have already begun to replace bonded leather reclining furniture with the new composite materials.

  • The new composites have not been around long enough to know conclusively what their long term durability will be. But there is every reason to believe that they will be highly durable.
  • A wide range of different composite faux leathers are now available. These have varying percentages of polyurethane and polyester (and sometimes small amounts of other materials such as cotton or vinyl.)
  • Both polyurethane and polyester are extremely durable materials.

In general, the higher the percentage of polyester used in the composites, the lower the cost of the material.

  • Higher percentages of polyurethane generally cost more.
  • In the past, polyurethanes have looked and felt more like real leather than polyester. New technology is making the difference less noticeable.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Insider

Jeff Frank is a 45 year veteran of the furniture industry. He’s worked directly with buyers, retailers, and manufacturers at every level of the industry. In every position throughout his career, his focus has always been customer service.

Shopping for furniture can be complex and frustrating. Salespeople often do not have enough knowledge to answer your questions or give advice based on limited experience. If you’re looking for real information and advice before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, take a look at our furniture buyer consulting.

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