What type of material are you working with?
Furniture upholstery is generally composed of 3 different materials: leather, vinyl and/or cloth fabric. Seeing the difference between leather and cloth is easy. Determining the difference between leather and vinyl can sometimes be much more difficult. For help in determining which material you have, please CLICK HERE.
As a consumer, descriptions which are presented to you are not always clear and concise. For instance: When looking at a beautiful piece of furniture which you believe to be upholstered in genuine leather, you are presented with terms such as Leatherette, Faux Leather, Imitation Leather and a host of others. These terms all refer to man-made vinyl materials and are designed to minimize the negative reactions to the real term; "vinyl".
There are a lot of manufacturers who upholster their product completely with 100% genuine leather. These pieces are normally of very high quality but come with a heftier price tag. Lower priced furniture will most likely be a combination of leather and vinyl: leather on the seating areas (where skin may come into direct contact with the material in a normal sitting position), and vinyl used on all trim and connecting areas. This does not necessarily deter from the quality of the piece, but it does make a huge difference when performing after care or restoration to damaged areas.
Very low priced furniture that may be presented to you as leather, may include leather upholstery material most often named "By-Cast", "Bonded" or other terms. These names refer to material that has been produced from scraps of leather ground into small particles and mixed with adhesives and colored to form sheets of material, very similar to "particle board" used in the construction industry. Very inexpensive, but is not durable and very difficult to keep nice for any length of time.
Cloth fabrics are relatively easy to identify. These are made from many different types of materials, some man-made, some natural. Regardless of what the cloth fabric is made from, after care will almost always be the same, using the same products on each type of material.
Once you have identified your particular material, please select from one of the following: