More than just a sophisticated surface decor, a leather tile installation is a significant asset with diverse possibilities for architecture and design application.
Before we dive into the need-to-knows about leather tiles, let’s look at why leather is such a desirable option for floors and walls.
Why Invest In Leather Tiles. The Leather We Love
- Leather is sexy yet responsible
Leather’s aesthetic warmth and sophistication has a tendency to wow people. But that’s not its only asset. In a throw-away culture, leather is a sustainable natural resource.
Leather is sustainable because it is sourced from animals, primarily from the beef industry. Instead of being dumped in landfills, cowhides are made into high-quality design products that last decades.
New innovations to leather tiles have now made it possible to change the look of your space within minutes, without the help of an installer. Moveable tiling systems, such as Blackstock’s magnetic tiling system, allow for easy replacement of damaged tiles without sacrificing the entire installation.
- Leather is durable yet low-maintenance
A common misconception about leather is that it’s too soft to stand up to foot traffic. Actually, leather is as durable as most other flooring materials, if not more so.
Aside from its high resistance to abrasion, leather becomes more resilient over time as it adapts to the environment. Whereas fake leather will crack and chip, real leather develops a rich patina based on how it’s been stepped on and the kind of weight it’s borne over time.
Besides its durability, leather tiles are easy to maintain and don’t require harsh chemical treatment or cleaners. Just wipe them down with a cloth and soapy water. After all, there’s little benefit to eco-friendly decor if it requires toxic chemicals to keep it clean.
When properly maintained, your leather tiles will last 50 years if not longer.
- Leather is beautiful and practical
The warmth and unique character leather achieves for interiors is unmatched by any other material. Incorporate it well into a room’s design, and leather will be striking and sophisticated without being overpowering.
Part of its practicality comes from its inherent acoustic and flame-retardant properties. Leather is great for spaces where noise is an issue. It can also be treated with water-resistant finishes for kitchens and bathrooms.
And because it’s derived from animal skin, leather is highly adaptable to changes in temperature and humidity. It’ll provide warmth in winter and cool in summer.
Another practical advantage of leather is the variety of applications it suits that go well beyond the limits of what’s possible for wood or glass. It can cover curved walls or wrap around pillars. It can also be folded over wooden panels for a seamless finish, or filled to create a three-dimensional effect. With engraving and embossing, even more customizations are possible.
What You Need To Know To Choose Your Leather Tiles?
Here’s what you should look for to get started.
- Full-grain leather
If it’s not full-grain leather, it’s not the highest-quality leather out there. Full grain leather retains the top layer of the skin, which preserves the hide’s unique characteristics. By contrast, other types of leather buff away the skin surface and replace it with a uniform finish.
If the leather is labeled full-grain, you can be sure it comes from rawhides with the least amount of flaws or defects, which would otherwise need to be compensated for with faux finishes.
- Magnetic tile
Leather panels are a permanent installation involving leather and wood panels glued to a substrate. While these can be great solutions, they are harder to install, and there’s more at stake if a panel is damaged.
A magnetic tiling system opens up design possibilities with flexibility. With this moveable system, leather tiles are given a magnetic backing. Once a metal substrate is installed, the leather tiles will adhere anywhere on the surface without the need for glue.
Customers can expect to spend between $15 and $50 per square foot for leather tiles, depending on the manufacturer, color, and pattern. For comparison, wallpaper typically costs $1 to $5 per square foot, wood floor panel costs $7 to $12 per square foot, and natural stone can cost up to $100 per square foot. A leather wall installation might not occupy the full area of a room, but it can add an alternative decorative element to wallpaper or painted walls.