Leather Flooring Pros and Cons

by Rachel Laurendeau on September 5, 2012

I was visiting a show home not so long ago and they had installed leather flooring tiles on most of the main floor. It looked interesting and different and I couldn’t help but wonder about its durability and practicality, not to mention the environmental questions that it brought up.

Leather flooring tiles and planks are as long lasting as regular flooring, however, keep in mind that they:
• Stain more easily than traditional flooring tiles when food or oils are dropped on them.
• Wear, scratch and scuff over time. Some people consider this to be part of the appeal, just as an old leather jacket looks and feels more comfortable as it ages, so does leather flooring.
• Steam, water and humidity can cause the tiles to pucker or buckle over time.
• Being exposed to extreme heat and sunlight can cause fading or uneven discoloration.

Where to Use Leather Floor Tiles and Planks
Based on the issues noted above for the durability of leather floors , I would recommend against using them in bathrooms, kitchens, sunrooms and areas with very high foot traffic.

You may want to talk to your general contractor about using  leather in a home library, den, office or maybe even the sitting room or a master bedroom. Generally speaking, these would be areas where you want to create a specific ambiance or “feel” in the room.

I automatically think of a dark and moody reading room when I think of leather flooring but there is no need to feel confined to this particular style for your home improvement. Leather tiles are available in a range of colors and finishes to suit formal, elegant, traditional, contemporary and casual spaces.

Cleaning and Maintenance
• Some leather tiles are treated with wax which makes them more resistant to staining and to water and therefore much easier to care for.
• You’ll want to be sure to sweep or vacuum often since walking over debris can cause more scuffing than regular wear.
• About once a year you will want to give the floor a once-over with leather cleaner and give it a good waxing and buffing. Some brands don’t need all this finicky attention and need nothing but general care like sweeping. Find out what the manufacturer’s recommendations are you’re your particular floor in order to comply with your floor’s warranty.

Green Tip: Installing leather flooring can actually be considered a eco-friendly home improvement according to certain manufacturers. I can’t speak to all brands but a few of them such as Torlys and Nova tout their leather flooring as “recycled leather.” My understanding is that they market it as being environmentally sustainable as it diverts unused hides from the meat industry or reclaimed leather from the shoe and clothing industries away from landfills to be used in their flooring.

Resources: www.ehow.com, www.ecomoso.com and www.torlys.com

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