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bicast leather

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Does anyone own a piece of furniture upholstered in bicast leather, that is, synthetic leather? How well does it wear? Is it better or worse than genuine leather as a furniture covering?
post #2 of 28
Is this a serious post? Why would anyone want pleather? ;p
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnapril
Does anyone own a piece of furniture upholstered in bicast leather, that is, synthetic leather? How well does it wear? Is it better or worse than genuine leather as a furniture covering?


I will quote you from a post you made a year or so ago about Stacy Adams shoes:

"So depressing".
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Good quote, Violinist.

Has anyone ever been lied to by a furniture salesperson? I recently asked a furniture salesperson whether a particular sofa was real leather, and she said yes. I did research on the Internet about the sofa and learned that the material was bicast leather. This happened in the United States. Are there no regulations on leather products in the US? Should I report the incident to the Better Business Bureau?
post #5 of 28
Well John, it all depends on how it was represented to you. If they just said some bullshit like "luxurious leather" or whatever, they weren't being specific. If it's marked on the product itself, I'm pretty sure that it's up to the consumer to do their due dilligence... if it's as simple as reading the label then telling the salesperson to go fuck themselves, I don't think the BBB would really intervene.
post #6 of 28
I've heard a lot of mis-representation going on in the furniture business. There's a store in the montreal that apparently buys chinese goods, re-labels them as italian, and charges a commensurate price. I got this from a guy that worked there. So I wouldn't put it past a salesman or even the owner of a store to be dishonest. Can't you tell the difference between real and fake leather though?
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
There is a knot of furniture stores in town that carries what is called Scandivanian furniture. The designs are unique and modern-looking, but what the upholstery actually is the salespeople often misrepresent. In the present situation, I asked the salesperson whether the sofa was real leather, she said yes, I went home and Googled the living shit out of it, and I found out the thing was bicast leather. Shy of men's clothing, I don't know shit about leather. The entire store is full of bicast leather items, so how was I to compare? I want leather furniture that is going to last. I dug a little more into the terms used to distinguish types of leather in the furniture industry. The best info I found was on Wikipedia. I was trying to understand why Crate and Barrel charges $3K for a sofa and the Scandivanian store charges $1.5K. The difference was the term for the leather: top grain leather or bicast leather. There is another term: full grain. Between full grain and top grain is a gulf the size of the Atlantic, full grain being the best material. And yet the terms are so similar, one could easily be tricked, unless one knows what the different leathers look/feel/smell like, or one can get a salesperson to be honest, or one knows the manufacturer and its construction methods. All of this is beginning to feel a bit more like shopping for a suit. Or welted shoes.
post #8 of 28
One of the bigger problems i've noticed with a lot of leather furniture is that you can't easily re-stuff it. I hate saggy seats. Sure you can get hardwood frame & webbing instead of springs, but there's often nothing you can do about the eventual depressions in the cushions. Depending on the firmness of the foams that are used, this can be more or less of a problem. The next time i go shopping for a leather couch, I will make sure that the cushions can be removed without tearing the whole couch apart.
post #9 of 28
In my experience the vast majority of what is called leather upholstery is this bicast stuff. I didn't know there was a name for it, though.
post #10 of 28
a top leather couch (e.g., Hancock and Moore -- like Baker but HM known for leather) should set you back 7-8K or more, depending on size. This assumes you want something to last, that can be re-tied etc.

My own recommendation would be to find a fee-based interior designer. They'll pay for themselves by avoiding mistakes and by knowing where to spend your budget (i.e., what pieces deserve more $$) and knowing product line better. Just analogize to your clothing knowledge ie being able to identify quality in lesser known brands. Unless you have commensurate knowledge in interior design and furniture, I'd strongly urge hiring a pro if possible
post #11 of 28
I am no fan of leather couches. I think that 99% of the time they are cheesy.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQgeek
One of the bigger problems i've noticed with a lot of leather furniture is that you can't easily re-stuff it. I hate saggy seats. Sure you can get hardwood frame & webbing instead of springs, but there's often nothing you can do about the eventual depressions in the cushions. Depending on the firmness of the foams that are used, this can be more or less of a problem. The next time i go shopping for a leather couch, I will make sure that the cushions can be removed without tearing the whole couch apart.

I don't know where you got that but I have had several leather couches with removable cushions that have zippers and can be quite easily "re-stuffed" with whatever materials you want. Now that I have kids jumping around though, I actually prefer cushions that stay attached to the couch.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt
I am no fan of leather couches. I think that 99% of the time they are cheesy.

99% of them are the big puffy ones, but there are lots of nice leather couches. Of course, my ideal living environment is concrete, stone, steel, glass, wood and leather. I like cold, open, and sterile environments.
post #14 of 28
Real leather for furniture is a pain to get, especially for sofas. The size of the cushions usually means that it'll be hard to find a single piece of hide large enough to get full coverage. So that means reconstituted (the particle board of leather), bi-cast (polyurethane on reconstituted leather base), or pleather (pure plastic), or expensive pieces. Well made leather furniture wont need to be re-stuffed, but might need to be re-padded once in a while if it has a long life time. Unfortunately lots of lower end furniture makers (the ones where you'd probably have to deal with re-stuffing more) are using glues now over tacks or staples. Stapled and tacked furniture is so easy to re-pad, but glue is a pain to get off without destroying the leather or parts of the frame.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by horton
a top leather couch (e.g., Hancock and Moore -- like Baker but HM known for leather) should set you back 7-8K or more, depending on size. This assumes you want something to last, that can be re-tied etc.

My own recommendation would be to find a fee-based interior designer. They'll pay for themselves by avoiding mistakes and by knowing where to spend your budget (i.e., what pieces deserve more $$) and knowing product line better. Just analogize to your clothing knowledge ie being able to identify quality in lesser known brands. Unless you have commensurate knowledge in interior design and furniture, I'd strongly urge hiring a pro if possible

Thank you for taking the time to write this. I think my family is in a place where a $7-8K piece of furniture would not be an appropriate choice. Nor do I believe where we live in the midwest has a competitive enough retail environment to justify hiring a professional interior designer. There's one store in town that deals the sort of furniture iammatt has in his place, but given that the salesperson was on tenterhooks while watching our son test out the samples in the store, I concluded I would feel the same if some of it were in my house.

What we have settled on is something right down the middle: a contemporary sofa covered in top grain leather with a kiln dried hardwood frame at a reasonable price. If it lasts 10 years, it will have done its job. My main concern with this purchase was to avoid a synthetic product, such as bicast, which is reconstituted leather covered with plastic. Top grain leather costs a fraction of full grain that Hancock & Moore uses. I appreciate the craftsmanship of their work. I just can't justify the cost of my appreciation at this time.
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