Quality Leather Sofa Construction

Check out our stores in Tampa or Bradenton, FL for current stock on all of our high-end living room furniture. We receive new shipments of drastically discounted overstocks and one-of-a-kind sofas and loveseats daily. The prices marked in our store can be as much as 30% - 70% off the SALE prices in most furniture stores. The deals are so great because we get factory overruns, abandoned special orders, warehouse scuffs and scrapes, floor samples, mismatched sets and prototypes. 

Here's an informative video from our friends at Flexsteel all about leather furniture features and care.

Now, about quality leather sofa construction:


Full Grain: Top-grain leather in its natural state (not corrected or buffed), including the "beauty marks" or "thumbprints of nature" which makes each hide unique.

Top-Grain: The top, outermost, strongest, most durable part of the hide. Very durable because there are no consistent fiber patterns along which the hide can tear. The natural fibers run in all directions, a property of very strong materials. Full grain leather is always top grain.

Split-Grain: The lower layer of the hide, cut away when getting to the top-grain. Much less strength and overall durability because the fibers in split-grain leather run in one direction allowing a crack or tear to possibly form. Ages differently and can be very noticeable when pieced with top-grain leather on the same piece of furniture. Be careful when shopping for leather furniture because split-grain is technically still "all-leather" or "genuine", but definitely not the quality of top-grain.

Aniline Dyed: Leather that has been dyed with aniline, a clear dye which permeates the entire hide. There is no pigment (paint) or finish put on pure aniline dyed leather to correct imperfections. That is why only the finest leathers can be used since they have to be in excellent shape. Pure aniline dyed leathers are known for their soft, natural feel as well as their beauty since they have no corrective finish. They are sometimes referred to as "naked" leather. This represents about five percent of all leather in the U.S. Aniline dyes offer little resistance to soil, stains, or sunlight.

Semi-Aniline (aka: Aniline Plus): A secondary process to aniline that provides stain protection, color consistency, and overall lower maintenance. Semi-aniline hides are leathers that have been dyed with aniline, the clear color dye described above. Then either a transparent or slightly pigmented finish is applied to improve resistance to wear and light.  There are semi-aniline hides that are very soft.

Corrected: To buff or sand to remove imperfections in the grain.  Corrected leathers, by their very nature, can not be full grain because the outer surface has been altered.  But if it was the outer layer of the hide that was sanded, these can still be top-grain leathers (and obviously, a sanded lower layer would be a corrected split grain leather).



By Kyle Dudley, published Nov 01, 2007

When it comes to sofa shopping, the debate over 8 way hand tied versus Pirelli webbing is one that frequently pops up. It is a debate that puts tradition and hand craftsmanship against modern innovation and science. However, before you go furniture shopping it is imperative that at least know a little about the two. With that in mind, here are some pros and cons of 8 way hand tied vs. Pirelli webbing in a sofa.

8 Way Hand Tied Sofa

The traditional style of support for the seating of a sofa is what is called 8 way hand tied. In such construction, a series of twine is hand tied in 8 different directions. The resulting web of twine acts as the support for the seating on a sofa.

PROS: The upside of 8 way hand tied sofas definitely lies in the tradition they represent. 8 way hand tied is the traditional way of supporting the seat of a sofa, and because it is done by hand it is often considered to be more reliable. Additionally, it is not entirely uncommon to hear of an 8 way hand tied sofa holding up for several decades. Some, in fact, can last as long as 50 years.

CONS: On the down side of buying an 8 way hand tied sofa is the fact that you are going to pay more. Because of the hand tying, it is a labor intensive form of construction. The result is a retail price that is several hundred more than Pirelli webbing in many cases.

Pirelli Webbing

Pirelli webbing supports the seating in a sofa different way. In the case of Pirelli webbing, there are a series of springs or sinuous coils. These coils or springs are covered by synthetic webbing. This Pirelli webbing is made from a highly resilient material that is used in many different types of construction from airplanes to automobiles and beyond.

PROS: The upside of Pirelli webbing in a sofa starts with cost. A sofa with Pirelli webbing is going to be much less expensive than 8 way hand tied is. This will allow you to get more sofa for your money. Additionally, it is easier to get it repaired since 8 way hand tied requires a very specific skill from a specific person.

CONS: The biggest down side of the Pirelli webbing is that it is newer. It is hard to know if a Pirelli webbing sofa can be around for 50 years when one has not yet had the chance. So the biggest problem is that there is not enough of a track record to give Pirelli webbing the tradition and trust that 8 way hand tied has.

So What to Choose?

As far as comfort and the initial durability tests seem to show, there is little difference in the two types of seating in a sofa. However, 8 way hand tied's tradition and reputation are hard to argue. With that in mind, it becomes a matter of what is important to you as a buyer.

The best thing you can do is to take the information you have gotten here with you. Once you know what you are dealing with, then it just becomes a matter of what you like, what is important to you, and what your budget is like. As with any furniture shopping you do, knowledge of what you are getting into is the key to your having a successful experience.

Other forms of spring construction can provide good quality support as well. Sinuous springs are two-dimensional “S” shaped wires that run from the front rail to the back of the seat, spaced every few inches. Support wires cross laterally and provide additional stability and support. A sinuous spring construction may be preferable in some cases. For example, a sleek modern sofa sitting low to the ground is better served by sinuous spring construction since it requires less space in the frame.


A sturdy frame is essential for a comfortable, high-quality sofa. The best sofa frames are constructed from kiln-dried hardwood. Green wood can shrink, crack or warp as it dries. Kiln drying removes the moister before the craftsmen begin to shape the frame, ensuring that the sofa will maintain its shape and stability over the long term. Quality frame construction also includes glued, doweled and screwed joints. Reinforcing blocks should be attached inside the corners of the frame for extra support. Plywood and particle board constructed frames held together with staples will not stand up over time and should be avoided. If you must choose a sofa without a kiln dried frame, then opt for 11 - 13 layer plywood over 5 - 7 layer plywood for better support. 

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