1. Ask about the frame—is it hardwood, kiln-dried, screwed, glued and double-doweled? Like a strong foundation, the frame should be your first consideration.
2. What are the cushions made of? It shouldn’t be just a slab of foam. Also know that leather has to breathe, so the cushions should have a mesh or other permeable fabric on the back side.
3. What covers the sides and back of the piece? Many manufacturers may use vinyl here to save costs. These matches are pretty accurate so you cannot necessarily tell by touch or sight. And, that is o.k., especially if your furniture will be against a wall, but be an informed consumer and know what you are buying—this can be a way to make a big piece fit your budget.
4. Ask about the dyeing process and whether the leather is treated with a protective coat. In a strange reversal, treated leathers are actually less expensive than untreated, basically because they can be less “perfect.” But, be sure to ask so you are not surprised.
5. Inquire about cleaning and conditioning, especially in Billings’ arid environment—both Erbacher and Davidson-Blades recommend conditioning leather furniture 1-2 times each year.