Thursday, April 22, 2010
When does it make sense NOT to repair damaged leather?
Look carefully at this photo...
This is a close-up taken of a leather seat cushion damaged by a dog claw that penetrated through the leather. However, look at the surrounding leather. The color coating is coming apart because the leather itself is disintegrating. This leather is known as a "split-hide." Simply put, its an inferior grade that lacks the tinsel strength you would expect from leather.
The damage is too severe and the integrity of the leather too weak to be able to hold a repair. Any repair effort would fail in short order because of the inherent weakness of the base leather. The only viable solution is to replace the afflicted panel. That would cost upwards of $1,000. as the piece would have to be disassembled to get at the defective panel. It just doesn't make sense to invest that much additional into an inferior piece. So, the piece is destined for an early entry into a landfill.
Here's a picture of the full piece. It looks inviting. The damaged panel is the back panel of the left facing seat cushion.
The novice consumer would have no way of knowing that they are purchasing an inferior product as it would look on the surface no different than quality (top grain) leather. Through use, the inherent weakness shows itself. If this was a top grain leather, the dog claw would not have been able to penetrate and the leather as you see it in the photo would not be disintegrating.
In our Hayward, CA leather furniture restoration studio we often see pieces that are more than 50 years old exemplifying the excellent durability one should expect from leather furniture. However, in today's world of cheap manufacturing techniques intended to maximize profits, the public is often being sold "leather" that has a life expectancy of only a few years.
If you are in the market for leather furniture be sure that you know what you are buying. Ask the question: Is this top grain leather? If you are uncomfortable with the response, then don't purchase it.
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Copyright 2010 Kevin Gillan