About Leather & Vinyl

What is leather?

Leather is a flexible material made from tanned animal rawhide. Most leather is created from cowhide and is a bi-product of the beef industry. Due to the beauty and durability of leather, it is widely used in the making of furniture, clothing, footwear and other products such as book binding. 

What is vinyl?

Vinyl is one of many different types of plastic. It made via a polymerisation process. As a manufactured product, there are many different types and grades of vinyl in use. When it comes to leather substitutes, there are two primary types of faux material: polyurethane (PU), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC or Vinyl).

Is all leather the same?

No. There is a great diversity of hides, tanning methods, manufacturing techniques and finishes that result in many different types of leather. Like other products, the most natural and refined leathers command the highest price whilst the more treated leathers are cheaper.

How often should I clean my leather?

Leather is low maintenance but not no maintenance. When it comes to cleaning, we recommend 3 golden rules:

1) Clean up any spills immediately
2) Remove ink or dye transfer while it's fresh
3) Do a full clean and condition every 3 months

For the sake of your leather's health and longevity, it's important to clean and condition leather that's in regular use every 3 months regardless of the colour or apparent need to for cleaning. Remember that many of the substances that damage leather are not highly visible to the eye; for example,  perspiration, body oils, sunscreen, salt, perfumes, water and the list goes on.  

What factors degrade leather?

Protecting your leather from unfriendly environmental factors is the best bet for preserving its longevity. When such factors can't be avoided, make sure you boost your leather care regime to compensate for any unavoidable exposure. For example, water, sun and salt are unavoidable in a marine environment. Regular cleaning is therefore key to ensuring your valuable leather and vinyl go the distance.  Here are a few of the baddies to watch out for:

  • Exposure to harsh direct sunlight
  • Household cleaning products
  • Dirt and grime
  • Perspiration
  • Hair and body oils
  • Colour transfer from non-colourfast dyes in clothing
  • Pet claws 
  • Pool chlorine and salty seawater
  • Alcohol and household perfumes
  • Mould and mildew
  • Chemicals and solvents

Cleaning removes the salts, acids and abrasive particles that degrade leather whilst conditioning moisturises it which prevents drying and cracking. Keep an eye on your leather and have any damage repaired quickly to prevent things getting worse.  

Can cleaning damage my leather?

Only if too much force is applied or the wrong products are used! Never attempt to clean your leather with household cleaners. These products may contain acetone, alcohol, abrasives or simply vary in pH to such an extent that damage occurs. Leather Hero products are specialist leather care products that are designed to nourish and protect your leather. Ensure that you use the correct product for your type of leather. 

Never rub to clean leather. The manufacturer's coatings may withstand years of normal use but be stripped in 15 seconds of harsh rubbing. Long intervals between servicing makes for harder work and increases the risk of damage from vigorous cleaning.  Regular light cleaning and conditioning is ideal; better for you and your leather.

What do I need to know before buying a leather lounge?

There are many different types of leather each with different wear capabilities, aesthetic characteristics and price tags. You should first consider the intended use and placement of the leather piece. Choose finished top grain leather for high traffic and heavy wear. If the piece will receive minimal wear and careful use, you might choose beautiful unfinished leather. If you require a short-term solution, faux leather or vinyl may meet your needs. If you require a cost-effective solution, remember that the cheapest isn't always the best choice. Man-made leathers don’t offer the durability of natural leathers and as such, need to be replaced more frequently thus costing more in the long run. 

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