Buzzwords you may hear when shopping for leather recliners are "top grain" or "full grain". These terms describe the type and condition of the hide. Top grain leather simply means it is the outer most part of the hide, and that it is not a split or under part which has less strength and durability. When the processing is started the top of the leather is sheared from the hide leaving a split. A split is good for a back or side, not a place where you will sit as the hide will stretch and lose its shape. A full grain hide is left with all its natural characteristics and markings in the processing stages. You will see a variety of grains from small to very heavy and this is ok. This shows that you are getting a genuine, minimally processed hide with natural markings. You will see many types of grain patterns and can determine which fits your preference. The majority of the leather sold on the market has been buffed to eliminate heavy grain or imperfections and give a smooth uniform appearance and feel. Some hides are embossed with a simulated grain to give a very uniform look. Nevertheless, these are all good, long lasting alternatives to fabric and micro fibers. For those who suffer from allergies, the dust that collects in conventional fabrics can easily be kept in check with leather.
Remember that leather is a natural product so it is never perfect. It is the lack of this perfection and the uniqueness that defines leather and makes it so desirable. Lines or scars and various grain textures are all normal characteristics of genuine leather. The more expensive and natural, the more this rings true. Leather needs to be cared for. If properly cared for, it will improve in look and feel as it ages. Some important tips on caring for leather are as follows...beware of ultraviolet rays that can dry, crack and fade just about anything and leather is no exception. Most leather furniture retailers also sell conditioners with UV protection. Take these simple precautions and enjoy the long life that leather provides to your home theater seats.