Finding out the quality of furniture at a furniture store can be difficult. Product descriptions are written with the goal of getting you to buy. What’s more, floor sales employees will boast about the quality of their “genuine bonded leather,” how easy it is to clean and how long it lasts.

What many people don’t know is that words like “genuine” don’t mean “real” leather, but rather a grade of leather. Genuine leather is, in fact, the second worst type of leather in terms of quality and durability.

To help you avoid this and other blunders at the furniture store, we’ve written a simple guide to furniture leather that aid you in making the most informed decision possible the next time you’re at the furniture store. After all, furniture is expensive, and you want to make sure you get the best option for you and your family.

Leather grades

Bonded. The most basic thing to understand about leather are the grades. At the bottom of the list, or the lowest grade leather, is bonded leather. The word “leather” is actually generous in this scenario because bonded leather is really made up of fragments of leftover leather that have been glued together (or “bonded”) with latex or poly.

Bonded leather is often used for furniture because large items like sofas require so much of it. Manufacturers won’t soon tell you just how much of the sofa is comprised of leather and how much of it is composed of latex, so be wary of spending a lot of money on bonded leather furniture.

Genuine. Genuine leather, also known as “corrected grain” leather has artificial grain applied to its surface. This top grain is designed to increase the visual appeal of the leather by changing the texture and pigmentation to create different colors.

While genuine leather is a step above bonded leather, it is also subject to wear as the surface isn’t true leather.

Suede. Suede is a type of “split grain” leather, meaning that the top of the piece of leather has been removed and sanded forming the soft, suede texture and color we are all familiar with.

Top and full grain. The highest quality leathers are top and full grain. Top grain has had the split removed which makes it both easier to work with as well as softer and more flexible. Full grain, on the other hand has not had the split removed and is often unbuffed and unsanded. It isn’t as common to see this type of leather used in furniture because the imperfections are often removed in favor of a more visually congruent leather. However, since full grain hasn’t had any layers removed, it is easily the most durable type of leather.

Shopping tips

Now that you know more about the types of leather, here are some tips for when you hit the furniture store.

  • Each manufacturer may use their own numbering system for grading leather, so don’t count on them being accurate.

  • Treated leather, in spite of seeming lower quality, may be more resistant to stains and thus preferable for a family with kids and pets.

  • Leather furniture that has received minimum treatment and includes the top grain requires specific cleaning. Don’t attempt to condition the leather with oils like you might a leather shoe that has been subject to the elements. Rather, use warm, damp, soft cloth to wipe down the leather every month or so. Soaps and cleaning solutions can do more harm than good to quality leather.

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Who doesn’t love upgrades? They make houses feel new, warm and welcoming. Upgrades also add value to houses. But, not all upgrades are applauded by landlords. Minimal upgrades like hanging oil paintings and photographs, installing motion detector lights up front walkways and significantly trimming hedges may easily be approved by landlords.

Home rental renovations that may require pre-clearance

It is upgrades like these that landlords may not only approve of the house renovations, they might allow tenants to make these changes to houses they are renting absent getting the landlords’ written or verbal agreement. Types of house renovations or upgrades that landlords might frown upon include:

  • Painting walls, especially if walls are re-painted bold colors like bold greens, yellows, reds or blues
  • Opening one or more walls at the rented property- As convenient as it is to open a room, making it easy to see from one room into another, this type of structural upgrade could change an appeal of the house. Some people prefer closed rooms to open rooms at a house. Eliminating this option could make it harder for the landlord to find the right tenants or buyers.
  • Ceiling fans can help to reduce indoor temperatures and lower utility bills. Ceiling fans also alter the appearance of rooms. Depending on the design of ceiling fans, this particular renovation could give off the impression that the house is Southern, located in a laid back neighborhood or located in an upscale community.
  • Definitely get approval before upgrading, removing or replacing kitchen or bathroom cabinets, flooring or the roof. As terrific as the upgrades might look, they could change the rented house in ways that the landlord doesn’t want.
  • Faucets add beauty to kitchens and bathrooms. They are one of the quickest ways to give a house a lift. Faucets are also generally inexpensive house renovations. But, landlords may want certain faucet designs, materials and colors and those designs, materials and colors may not agree with what landlords want.
  • Furniture upgrades work unless you are renting a furnished house.

To prevent any stress from entering your house rental arrangement, discuss renovations with landlords in detail before you start paying for upgrade material. Increased security may come through a signed agreement.

Make renovating your rented house easy

Rent a house and you won’t have to worry about closing costs, property taxes or major home maintenance expenses. You can feel as if the house that you’re renting belongs to you. Some adults who rent houses are incredibly open, approachable and understanding landlords.

Enter a home rental agreement with one of these landlords and years might pass before you even think about moving and buying a house of your own. But, even the best house landlords want to know about certain home renovations before renters make the upgrades.

By getting renovations in writing before you move into a rented house, you can have the green light to make upgrades when you get ready. This may help you to feel as if the house that you are renting is your own.

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