Is leather an intelligent choice for your sofa or sectional in Vallarta? Many of my clients ask this question, thinking that it is easier to soak up spills and wipe off the dirt from a piece of leather furniture than from fabric. The answer, in my opinion, depends on a few factors and is specific to each client. The good news is that you now have an option that will give you the best of both worlds – the look of fabric with the convenience of leather.
It is critical for those who prefer leather to know the different grades of leather that manufacturers use to cover their sofas, sectionals, recliners, and sofa beds. Each grade has its pros and cons, and the prices vary depending on the grade. The four grades of leathers are full grain, top grain, genuine and bonded.
When a cowhide is put into a splitting machine, it is sliced into long layers. The cutting blade separates the top (full grain and top grain) from the bottom (genuine or split leather).
Full-grain leather is the most expensive leather available. It is the outer layer of the hide and has the most variations in both markings and color. Full-grain leather shows the life of the cow. If the cow pressed up against a barbed-wire fence was bitten by horseflies or injured, you see the marks. You see veins of the cow in most full-grain leathers, giving it loads of character. Full-grain leather does not go through a lot of post-processing at the tannery. Although beautiful, full-grain leather sofas or sectionals are more prone to stains since liquids and oils are easily absorbed. They also stretch. If you like the look of a well-worn pair of jeans, this is how your leather sofa will appear in time. We recommend full-grain leather for our clients who prefer a Mexican hacienda-style décor and have a little room in their budget.
The other exterior layer of the cowhide is referred to as top grain leather. This grade is more uniform since it is the split of hide under the top layer of skin. Top grain leather is strong and more consistent in coloring than full-grain leather. It has fewer imperfections because it is buffed, sanded, and stained to create that uniform look. The pigmentation that is added to the top grain also serves as a water repellant to the leather. Liquid tends to bead on the surface and rolls off. This layer of leather will not stretch as much as the full-grain leather. For those reasons, we suggest the top grain over the full-grain for most homeowners in Mexico, especially in our beachside homes with humid climates.
The remaining two layers are split from the bottom or inside of the hide. These leathers are put through more manufacturing processes to make them ready for use as furniture covers. It is correct to say that genuine leather is natural since it does come from the cow. However, it is not considered decadent as the two top grains (full grain and top grain) since it is more processed.
Bonded leather is a great way to get a leather sofa or sectional at a very reasonable price. If it is correctly manufactured, bonded leather is an excellent solution for your home in Mexico. Scraps of leather are fused with glue and pressure to create bonded leather.
Be cautious of any bonded leather imported from offshore and items made with “tacto piel.” These are poorly manufactured replicas that crack and peel within a year. It is difficult to tell the difference between genuine leather and fake leather. Fake leather looks great in the showroom, but it will quickly crack and peel when you get it home. There is usually no recourse except to give it away and buy a brand-new piece. Sadly, there are too many stories of people here in Vallarta who were misled into believing the expensive sectional or sofa they were buying was actual leather that would last.
To protect your investment, only buy a leather sofa, sectional, recliner, or sofa bed from a brand-name manufacturer you know and trust. In my opinion, the best brand for leather furniture in Mexico is Palliser. They have manufacturing plants in Saltillo, Mexico and have been in business since the 1950s. We have sold hundreds of leather furniture pieces from Palliser over the past ten years, without issue. Should a problem arise, the manufacturer has an outstanding warranty.
Another option is fabric for those who do not like the feel of leather in a hot climate. Fabric covers feel less “sticky” but are prone to staining. A solution is to opt for a fabric cover textured both in feel and color since any stains will be less noticeable. Unfortunately, a fabric cover is still not the best option for furniture here. If you plan to rent out your condo when you are not using it, the chance of regular fabric lasting more than one season without a stain is low.
Luckily, we now have a third option. It’s a cover that allows us to get the most out of our furniture investment. It is a material that will not fade or stain. It repels liquids, including coffee, wine, lotions, and oils.
This fabulous and revolutionary material is called performance fabric. It is the best thing since sliced bread, as the adage goes! It withstands wear and tear while being super easy to clean. If you rent your home in Vallarta when you are not using it or have children or pets, this is absolutely the fabric to get. Even more fantastic news is it costs no more than regular fabric. Imagine – stains could very well be a thing of the past!
If you are wondering how this is possible, ponder no longer. Olefin, acrylic, nylon, or polyester are the materials most often used to make the thread. Each fiber is coated to resist stains and deter liquids. Should an accident happen, blot using a damp towel. If the stain is messier, mix mild soap and water and then clean with a cloth. There is no need to purchase a spray-on protector anymore. The material is already protected.
Ever notice how the fabric on your sofa or chairs can pill or look worn after some use? You will not experience the same issue with performance fabric. These materials are the same quality as furniture used in commercial spaces, without the high price tag. Your sofa or sectional will look fantastic for years and years, like when you first purchased it.
They are eco-friendly and manufactured without harm to the environment. Performance fabrics are available in thousands of colors and patterns and are soft to the touch.
When selecting your sofa, sectional, recliner, or sofa bed for your home in Vallarta, the cover you choose depends on your personal preference, style and needs.
Sheryl Novak is the owner of Solutions Mexico (www.solutionsmexico.com). SOLutions Mexico has helped furnish thousands of homes in the Bay of Banderas area over the past 15 years. SOLutions Mexico offers customized furniture packages that fit your needs and budget, rental furniture for your unfurnished rental property, and relocation/moving services (international/national). They are considered the number one resource for all things furniture in Puerto Vallarta. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp at +52 322 136 5156.