What is the Best Kind of Leather?

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Leather Quality

Luxury leather is worth every penny for its timeless appearance and strong durability

Rich in appearance and extraordinarily supple in comfort, Valencia Theater Seating leather stands out from the rest. Industry standard leather can be over-processed and damaged with the use of harsh chemicals, creating a watered-down version of what should have been a beautiful full-grain leather chair. But Valencia Nappa leather is handcrafted, using methods that span decades, ensuring the authenticity is preserved and the finished product is beautifully soft. 

Follow along as we outline the differences and similarities between the different leather grades. We’ll start with the lowest-quality grades and work up to the highest grade. At the end of this article, you’ll be a pro at spotting what’s great leather and what’s just an imitation.


PU leather is an imitation leather made of synthetic materials and sealed with polyurethane. This amounts to the material going through an intensive process, often referred to as “correcting,” where the leather worker tries to mimic real leather using thermoplastic polymer and exactly zero leather. Once referred to as ‘pleather’, the plastic-in-appearance pseudo leather sits at the bottom of the leather quality totem pole. 

Poor durability, smells like plastic, tears easily, and looks fake. 1/10 do not recommend.



Bonded leather is the process of fusing scrap leather together with PU (polyurethane) leather; the fibers from processing a full-grain leather are bound together using PU. Bonded leather often appears plasticky with a hard finish. Essentially, it’s slapping together a bunch of low-grade leather, processing it repeatedly, trying to achieve a quality leather look. Often-times this is unachievable. Is it technically better than PU leather? Or do we just like that there’s at least real leather in it somewhere?

No; not better than PU. But we’ll give it a point for being scrappy. 2/10.



Similar to bonded leather, the genuine leather process is also fusing together scrap leather. The difference between the two is that bonded leather mixes fake leather into the recipe. Yes, genuine leather is real leather, but no, it is generally not top-tier quality. Used often in the clothing industry, but also seen used in mid-range furniture. Genuine leather is more of a label than a reflection of its quality. It’s that age-old concept that you get what you pay for. 

We’re not necessarily mad at genuine leather, but it could be better. 5/10.



The majority of quality leather furniture is Top Grain. This grade of leather seating upholstery offers durability and a nicely finished look. To get more specific, top grain leather is made of the top layer of the animal hide. We’ll get into what it is about our Top Grain Leather that makes it one of the best a little later on. This type of leather is very flexible and free of surface imperfections, but the splitting from the bottom layers of the hide do make it weaker than full-grain leather furniture.

We love working with a well-crafted top grain leather. 9/10.


There is a common misconception that Full Grain Leather possesses a higher quality than Top Grain Leather. This isn’t true. It simply comes down to your preference in appearance. Top Grain generally possesses a more natural and authentic look, taken from the best parts of the top of the hide. Whereas, Full Grain leather often utilizes the full scope of the leather, including the less ideal sections of hide. The differences really lie in durability, and what look you’re going for in your home theater. Yes, Top Grain leather looks perfect and is high quality, but the untouched natural appearance of Full Grain leather screams artisan.



Our master leatherworkers specialize in the highest-quality top and full-grain leathers available, creating designer, luxury, comfortable home theater seating and other entertainment room furniture. Let’s get into a few of our favorite options for your Valencia leather seating:


Our Top Grain Nappa Leather 11000 is extremely supple and soft to the touch. Authentic Italian leather is cured using natural tanning methods, and increases in appearance over time. All Nappa leather is hand selected from highly regarded Italian tanneries to ensure the best possible quality and appearance. The diamond stitch leather is perfectly designed to look as stylish as possible, offering you more comfort, while possessing the look and feel of a luxury car. 



Semi-Aniline Italian leather 20000 is extremely durable due to a high collagen fibre structure. Engineered to last, every component is of the highest quality with a finishing S-Layer to ensure protection. It has a matte finish that is incredibly soft, with a velvety-smooth feel. It is the highest grade of Italian Nappa leather and overall more luxurious in appearance.

Semi-Aniline leather is similar to Aniline leather, with the only difference of protection. Unlike Aniline, Semi-Aniline leather is finished with a protective layer to secure the appearance, while repelling wear and tear. This small, but important, step aids in preventing UV damage, moisture and stains. Handcrafted exclusively with water-soluble dyes, this leather is both organic and long-lasting. The velvety-smooth, matte finish serves as a luxurious focal point in any home theater room.  



This breathable, scratch resistant, supple, and water-resistant (with a special treatment) material is ideal for anyone looking to add a feel and sense of luxury to their living space that they’ve never experienced before. Seriously. This is the pièce de résistance when it comes to beautifully authentic leather. The smell, the texture, the luxurious look; this leather is incredibly rich and has an overall stunning appearance.

Luxury Italian leather is a highly desired material, but often comes in different quality grades. Sitting at the top of the luxury leather pyramid, it is used by many acclaimed luxury brands. 

Reason being? 

Its strong durability with the added flexibility to contour to the body makes this material comfortable and adaptable. So, while you spend countless hours bingeing your favourite series and movies, you can feel confident that your home theater chairs will not show wear and tear; they’ll hold their original luxurious appearance. 



Valencia’s Linea Collection is made with Gruppo Mastrotto leather; a staple that has been in the luxury leather industry for decades. Sitting at the forefront, it has set a standard for the art of leather tanning. 

Crafted through a process of leather tanning like no other, the finished product only improves with age. At Valencia Theater Seating we assure our chairs are fashioned with the highest level of quality leather. Gruppo Mastrotto aligns seamlessly with Valencia’s strong heritage connection, using undeniable technique that has been practiced for centuries. Gruppo Mastrotto aligns seamlessly with Valencia’s strong heritage connection, using undeniable technique that has been practiced for centuries. Think: exotic car meets optimal comfort.


Valencia Vegan Nappa Leather

The perfect solution for someone who wants high-quality leather seating that’s not actually leather, this isn’t that PU stuff that topped our please-don’ts of this leather list. We’ve crafted a natural vegan leather made of sustainable resources – we recycle unused fruit waste, especially apples, which are dumped by the tonnes every year. Our Vegan Nappa leather looks, feels and wears just like our Full Grain Nappa leather, and it even outperformed it in wear cycles during testing. 

Valencia’s Vegan leather is the perfect upholstery choice for people who want the look and feel of real leather without the ethical complications or carbon footprint of hide leather. What’s good for the earth is good for all of us! If you’re curious about our quest for greener pastures, learn more on Valencia’s Green Vision page.

(Add an image of vegan leather here and/or maybe that chart on the product page that tells you the cows, CO2, etc you save with vegan leather?)

Explore our Materials Collection page to learn more about Valencia’s dedication to curating top-tier leathers for the most comfortable and durable leather media furniture there is.