How to pick the right type of leather for chair? (+Buying options)

black modern leather chair, placed in classic living room, accent black metal lamp, chair placed on rug
black modern leather chair, placed in classic living room, accent black metal lamp, chair placed on rug

Considered to be the most luxurious upholstery material, leather is a natural fabric whose popularity has surged substantially over millennia. Due to its durability, water resistance, insulation properties, and aesthetic appeal, leather is a sought-after textile. Moreover, it is one of the most diverse natural textiles available in a wide range of styles, grades, and colours. Leather furniture is contemporary and long-lasting, which makes it a great option for homes and offices. Whether you are looking for a modern leather chair or sofa, the texture, quality, durability and sophistication of every piece of leather furniture differs. There is a wide range of furniture with leather upholstery available on the market with different styles and finishes ranging from swivel chairs for the office to club chairs for the living room. 

Therefore, in this article, we have talked about the different types of leather used for chairs. Furthermore, we have differentiated leather and fabric upholstery to make it easier for you to pick the right one. Feel free to browse through our top recommendations and buy a leather chair that fits your style and budget.



Types of leather for chair


Full grain leather


full grain modern swivel chair, brown coloured seat with texture placed in a room
Modern classic chair with a swivel function for your space

Image Source: Michael K on Behance


Full grain is the most authentic type of leather and does not need any additional treatment to remove imperfections or irregularities. This leather is known for its colour and texture of animal hide which gives chairs a natural yet modern appearance. Due to the authenticity of full-grain leather, it is the most expensive grade of leather available. Moreover, full-grain leather has a rough texture at first but turns soft with age. If you want to add a rich and modern look to your space, a club chair made of full-grain leather is a perfect choice for your living room. 


Also see: How to buy a gaming chair to upgrade your workstation in 2023?


Top grain leather


classic seat on wheels for offices, rug placed on floor
Tan modern leather chair for home office

Image Source: on Pinterest


Although its purity is similar to full-grain leather, top-grain leather is polished more than full-grain leather. It is the second-highest grade of leather and undergoes a buffing process, making it softer than full-grain leather while maintaining the same durability and endurance. Therefore, it looks and feels softer than full-grain leather, which is more robust. This quality of top-grain leather makes it a good fit for swivel office chairs or modern sofas allowing you to swing in comfort. 


Also see: 46+ Bean bags chairs to style like Gen-Z (FAQs + Buying guide)


Split grain leather


club chair for your home, placed in hall, side table, mid-century decor
Leather club chair to add a vintage aesthetic to your living room

Image Source: Furniture Online


Split leather is often known as genuine leather. It has a harder feel and is usually used for manufacturing the backs and sides of chairs. It is sanded to remove inherent flaws, just like top-grain leather. To simulate a natural appearance, the surface is usually sprayed and embossed with a leather-like pattern, giving chairs a modern look. Split-grain leather is a saviour if you want to give your furniture a luxurious appearance but are on a budget crunch. You can choose split-grain leather to revamp your living room or office furniture with new leather upholstery for your swivel or club chairs at a fairly affordable cost.


Also see: Garden chairs and table: Guide & designs of 2022 unveiled (Buy now!)


Bonded leather


off white swivel leather seat, comfy seat, placed in a living room, indoor plant, table
Comfortable modern leather chair for living room and home office

Image Source: Lowe’s


Bonded leather is created from animal hide leftovers. These scraps are bonded together on the top of a fibre layer with polyurethane or latex. The percentage of natural leather cannot be determined unless the manufacturer chooses to reveal it, which is quite unlikely. Bonded leather is the most affordable leather variety. If you want to have that high-quality leather look for your chair at a lesser cost, consider furniture manufactured with bonded leather.


Nu-buck leather


modern nu-buck club chair, placed in hall giving a luxurious look
Modern leather club chair with velvety texture for living room

Image Source: Juliettes Interiors


This leather is recognized for its brittleness and requires waterproofing treatment if buyers plan to preserve it for an extended period. This type of leather is entirely made of rawhide from cattle, which is then sanded to give it a velvety texture. Unlike the less expensive suede, its soft and velvety touch makes it pricey. So, if you are looking for durable, gorgeous, and high-quality furniture, you can opt for a Nu-buck leather chair. 


Bicast leather


blue coloured modern club chair, placed in hall, rug placed on floor, tall lamp besides the seat
Bold blue leather club chair for comfortable seating in the living room

Image Source: Amazon Media


Bicast leather is partially made from glossy natural leather with a coating of polyurethane. Therefore, it possesses characteristics of both the hide and the synthetic polyurethane layer. It is not pure leather and can replicate top-grain leather with higher consistency and glossiness than most natural leathers due to the adaptability of the split layer’s vinyl coating. Moreover, it’s cheaper than genuine leather as it’s easier to manufacture. 



Faux leather


faux leather seat with sleek metal leg, placed in living room, beautiful furniture
Elegant modern faux leather chair for living room

Image source: Homemys US on Pinterest


For a variety of reasons, faux leather has become more popular in the past few decades. One of the reasons for its popularity is its availability at a significantly lower price than genuine leather. This leather variety is less expensive than actual leather, yet slightly more expensive than bonded leather. Faux leather is precisely what it sounds like: synthetic or artificial leather. Moreover, there are two primary types of faux leather often known as PVC leather and PU leather. Modern swivel or club chairs made of faux leather are the best picks for people who opt for a vegan lifestyle.  


Royalin leather


royalin seat for home, modern seat, rug placed on floor
High-quality leather chair with beautiful texture for living room

Image Source: Leather Master on Pinterest


Royalin, the most exquisite and expensive leather, is an excellent choice for those looking for a high-quality and comfortable chair. This leather, exclusively available in Europe, is made of pebbled grain with a variety of original marks. It requires additional treatment due to its premium quality to protect it from moisture and human contact. You can opt for a club or swivel Royalin leather chair to give your space an ultra-modern and luxurious appearance. 


Know your leather: Here’s how!

When selecting a leather fabric for a chair, there are other aspects to consider apart from cost, which can be daunting at times. The purpose of furniture should be given priority, followed by its aesthetics. Later comes durability, touch and feel of the furniture, the level of comfort it offers and if it complements the overall design of the home. All these factors can only be achieved when you know your leather right. So, let us discuss some pointers to make your leather hunt convenient.


Check the label

You should look at the tag or label. If the leather is genuine, it will disclose openly. If you see the words “100% real leather,” and “full/top grain leather,” – you’re on the right track. On the contrary, if the label states “machine-made material” then it’s definitely PVC or some synthetic polymer. Do check the price as well. Although everyone enjoys a good deal, real leather is far more expensive than the synthetic one.


Touch and feel it

Feel the leather surface! The surface structure of genuine leather is uneven and has flaws or defects as it’s a natural material manufactured from animal skin. A very consistent, even texture indicates that the leather is artificial. So, if the leather you’re looking at has a consistent grain, it is most likely made from a synthetic material to look like the real thing.

Also, touch the leather and press your fingers into it. If you notice any creases or wrinkles, this is a green sign. If the material just sinks or bounces back when squeezed, it is likely to be fake.


Smell it 

Get the leather closer to your nose and smell it. This is a surefire way to know the difference as there’s no foolproof technique to imitate the real leather fragrance. Faux leather has a plastic-like smell whereas real leather has a natural, organic, musty scent that cannot be replicated.


Fabric vs Leather upholstery: Which one you should choose?   

Upholstery is a great way to revamp your furniture in style, complementing the rest of your room’s decor. The market is flooded with various materials available for upholstery. Therefore, it can be overwhelming to decide on which one to pick.  

Here’s a quick breakdown to help you reach your own conclusion and decide what’s best for you. 


Features Fabric Leather


Fabrics do not reflect the room’s temperature. They are typically very soft, and cotton or linen are excellent choices if comfort is a primary consideration.  When you sit on a leather chair for an extended period, it tends to heat up. It also reflects the room’s temperature, so it’s frigid in winter and hot in summer.  


Fabric comes in a wide range of colours, patterns, and textures. Due to this, it offers a better possibility to complement the existing room decor and achieve the desired aesthetic.   Leather adds beauty and prestige to any room. However, some people find the creases of leather to be unappealing. Those who enjoy the natural leather features agree that this simply adds to its allure. 


Fabric is not as long-lasting as leather. Moreover, the colour and shine of fabric diminish with time and it becomes prone to tears.   Leather can last up to four times longer than fabric and has a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. Moreover, it’s flame resistant and prevents dust from penetrating.  


Maintaining a fabric chair is a difficult task as it absorbs dust and hence requires regular vacuuming.   If maintained properly, leather lasts longer than fabrics. Every leather has different cleaning and maintenance needs. It requires regular dusting and vacuuming.  


Fabric is the least expensive upholstery material. Its prices rise in some cases, but not to the extent that leather prices do.  Leather is the most expensive upholstery material due to its durability and great quality. 


Depending on the type of fibres used to make a fabric, the length of time required for biodegradation as well as the degree of environmental harm differs.  Leather can take up to 50 years to biodegrade. This is due to how it’s treated during the manufacturing process. 


Shop from our hand-picked collection of leather chairs!


West Elm Crescent Leather Swivel Chair

Modern leather club chair for living room, black coloured chair, carpet placed on floor, coffee table in thee centre, indoor planter

B U Y  H E R E 


Natuzzi Italia Couture

off white leather club chair with swivel function, placed in a modern living room, rug placed on the floor

B U Y  H E R E 


BoConcept Adelaide Chair With Swivel Function

beige coloured swivel leather chair, placed in hall, coffee table in the centre, rug placed on the floor

B U Y  H E R E 


Ikea Gistad Bomstad Black Leather Chair

black club chair placed in hall, rug placed on floor, side table, indoor plant on table

B U Y  H E R E 


Urbancart Armchair 

green coloured seat with sleek wooden leg placed in hall, rug placed on floor, coffee table with glass table top

B U Y  H E R E 


Nilkamal Boss Middle Black Chair

black coloured office seat on wheels with swivel function, white desk in a room, wooden flooring, indoor plant

B U Y  H E R E 


WallMantra Tan Leatherette Luxurious Accent Chair

tan leather seat with sleek wooden legs, placed in a living room, indoor planter placed on table, table lamp

B U Y  H E R E 


Lakkadhaara Ashford Mid-Century Leather Chair

wooden body modern chair, placed in a room, wooden flooring, wall decor, white table

B U Y  H E R E 


Freedom Tree Civic Dark Green Leather Accent Chair

accent green seat, wooden table placed beside, minimal decor

B U Y  H E R E 


West Elm Ryder Leather Chair

club chair made of leather, carpet placed on floor, side table, beautiful living room

B U Y  H E R E 


Pottery Barn Tyler Leather Square Arm Recliner With Nailheads

black recliner seat, placed in a hall, a table placed beside the recliner, black coloured recliner

B U Y  H E R E 



Whether it’s for a swivel chair or a modern club chair, leather is the best upholstery material for furniture. There are various types of leather available, each with its own distinct characteristics. For example, faux leather is not composed of animal hide, whereas full-grain leather is manufactured entirely of animal skin. Depending on the variety of leather you select, you can either get a soft and airy feel or a glossy and rich texture. Furthermore, the price of each leather type varies based on its quality and aesthetic appeal. Although you get numerous colour and pattern choices if you opt for fabric upholstery for your furniture, leather is way more durable and versatile which adds luxe and extravagance to your home. 

Knowing about various types of leather will make it convenient for you to pick the best leather chair from a wide range of options. So, go ahead and explore our best buying options listed above to redesign your home interiors and give your space a new look now!  


*The featured image used in this article is from BoConcept


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