Hey guys, I've never seen this addressed here before. I bought a set of 3 Berkline leather seats from a fellow forum member last year for a song. About 2 months ago, the leather skin started to peel away from the chair, leaving only the backing. What started as a tiny missing bit has now turned into most of the headrest missing, and the seat is starting to do it too. It looks ugly as sin.
I called a leather place today, sent him some pix, and he told me that what I had was a bonded leather seat, that it's only a thin skin of leather on a backing (and he's exactly right, that's what I have), and a typical life span for bonded leather is 2 years. He referred me to a leather upholstery place, and figured I'd be looking at $1000 or so CDN to do it. I love the seats, I've got a set of three, but I'm on the fence as to whether to do it or not.
Does anyone have any other suggestions? It's the middle seat that's worn, and I'm usually the only one using the theater, so the repair/re-upholstery can be slightly different from the other two outside ones, that for now are still fine.
Link Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:08 am Post subject:
SpankyHam actually does leather repair on high-end furniture. He'll probably have some expert guidance, but here's my take from talking to him about leather stuff a few times...
Yes, that's bonded leather. It isn't just thin leather... It's ground-up leather made into slurry that's laminated onto the fabric backing, then embossed with maybe a layer of polyurethane to protect it. The whole thing is kind of like how paper is made.
I wouldn't repair the chair - certainly not for a grand. That's ridiculous. I would think somebody could put a new matching panel on the headreadest for a few hundred bucks. Regardless, you can buy a brand new real (top grain) leather chair for $600-800 (each).
What you could do is just throw some IKEA black blankets over the backs like I did in my old room. It would just cover up the issue.
Joined: 06 Mar 2006 Posts: 16822 Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Link Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:09 pm Post subject:
I agree with Steve. I would not sink much money into these.
That sort of leather is used on cheaper seats to cut costs which means that there are probably other cost cutting measures done to make those seats hit a certain price point. Redoing them with good/real leather would fix them for now but who knows about the rest of the chair...
Link Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:42 pm Post subject:
Curt Palme wrote:
Dammit, not the answer I wanted to hear.
I'd get a second opinion... I would think you could get that back and maybe even the pan recovered for a couple hundred bucks. Still, not sure you'd really want to put much money into them.
Curt Palme wrote:
Another option has been thrown at me.. to go for pleather.. manmade leather that's better than vinyl, and less expensive than leather.
Bonded leather is what you have. "Pleather" is a very inexact term, but basically is vinyl. There are a slew of artificial products, and people generally mix them all up. "Pleather" usually refers to vinyl - plastic leather... "Leatherette", like what's in VW car seats is PVC (vinyl) laminated onto fabric. It's also vinyl... It's just better-looking, better-wearing vinyl than what we had forty or fifty years ago. Alcantara and Ultrasuede are suede-like synthetic fabrics. Everything else is pretty much a variation of those things.
It's not a Berkline, but just to give you an idea what an entry-level chair costs, you're looking at $387/seat with manual recline, or $487 w/power recline. That's w/free shipping. Maybe you could trade an upholstery shop a repaired flat panel or something so it isn't "real" money you're putting into it.
Link Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:52 pm Post subject:
Oh, and bonded leather or pleather isn't better than vinyl per se; it's just different. There are pluses and minuses.
The bonded leather looks and smells like leather (because it is, sort of), and it breathes better and is more comfortable to sit on, but as you've found, it doesn't wear for sh*t. Personally, I wouldn't ever buy a piece of furniture with bonded leather. When you see cheap leather furniture in Walmart, that's what it is. Craigslist and classifieds are littered with used furniture that looks just like your chair that's coming apart. Of course, it's worth nothing because who would buy furniture that looks like that?
Vinyl (or leatherette) is great for cars because it's extremely durable and cleanable. It'll last for years and take abuse, but of course it looks and feels nothing like leather. Good for cars, not so much for furniture.
Top grade leather on the other hand, looks awesome and feels awesome, and if you take care of it, will last for years. I saw an absolutely beautiful sofa in a Goodwill/Salvation Army type store a few months ago. It was a gorgeous modern Danish design, probably from the late-sixties or early-seventies. Looking at the design and build quality, it was obvious it cost a small fortune new. It was disgustingly filthy and had been abused and neglected to the point of no return, but the leather was all completely intact. Amazing.
Joined: 22 Mar 2006 Posts: 5643 Location: Comedy Central
Link Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:38 pm Post subject:
Steve your hired! lol
He has pretty much covered everything. If you like the chair and can get it reupholstered for a good price then go for it. Ask the shop for samples of good vinyl alternatives. I have a friend in Cleveland who gives clients a board with vinyl and leather samples to try to tell the difference. Most people have trouble.
On the flip side, as Steve has said it might be cheaper to buy new if you aren't married to the chairs.
Bonded Leather sucks and it really pisses me off that companies are trying to pass it off as leather.
OT - Kenyon just sent me a form email. I thought about replying back with a response that I am going with Titan.
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This post probably doesn't make sense, as I didn't sleep last night. I love 7am flights.
Link Posted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:40 am Post subject:
Curious as to the love for leather in a chair you don't really want to see while watching the big picture. I want to get lost in the movie, not impress someone visiting once or twice a year at most. I think I am more than willing to entertain my ass with microfiber theater seating ... if it existed. _________________ Trust no one. Absolutely no one. Advice of the board.
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Link Posted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:55 am Post subject:
I don't really care what it is. The chairs are a set of 3, the middle one is the one worn out, and the way the armrests are put together, I can't turn it into a 2 set setup, which would put me off dead center, and I can't have that.
I also can't rearrange the seats so it comes down to repairing them one at a time as they wear out, or replacing the set, and I don't have the funds for that right now.
I understand that pleather wears well, and is cheaper than real leather, and I'd be fine with that. If I can get the repair down to $500-600 CDN rather than $1000, and it will last, then I'm good with that.
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