Leather has been an expanding fashion trend for clothing and home furniture over the past decade. Leather-topped writing desks are a tradition with custom furniture builders, going back centuries.
So it’s a natural extension, says Christian Nadeau, owner of Rockville, MD-based EcoDomo, to use leather for permanent interior surfaces — just like wall paper, wood flooring, or a veneer panel.
EcoDomo, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, supplies other renewable surfaces for luxurious architectural detailing, such as cork in 12 colors and finishes for flooring in either a floating plank or in a glue-down tile.
“Could leather be used in all the same applications as wood for interiors?” asks Nadeau. To bring leather into the mix, Nadeau introduced EcoDomo Rainforest leather planks and tiles, and Echelon glue-down tiles and sheets, both made of recycled leather. Thicknesses range from 0.4 mm to 3 mm. Laminated planks are interlocking.
“This makes it possible to use leather very much the same way as you would use any variety of wood for interior finishes — from floors to ceilings and everything in-between,” says Nadeau. A new Andeline Collection leather veneer is available in rolls or sheets for millwork, cabinets and panels.
Good Like Wood
The organic nature of leather fibers make them comparable to wood fibers, according to Nadeau. Recycled leather is made in a similar manner to recycled paper or fiberboard. The remnants of leather hides from tanneries are mulched, pulped and bound together with water, latex and Acacia tree bark before being extruded into slurry onto conveyor belts. The “leather paste” is then compressed, dried, and milled to the desired specification in rolls or sheets.
The product is finished using similar dyes as regular leathers prior to being finished with special wear layers or embossed. The density, color, wear layer and thickness can all be adjusted based on the final use of the product — including flooring.
“People are always amazed at leather floors for their beauty and resilience,” says Bernice Lord, marketing director at EcoDomo. “Few people know that our recycled leather has a density comparable to red oak.”
Recycled leather floors have been installed successfully over the past 10 years in hotels, bars, medical clinics, staircases, kitchens, and even challenging hair salons, Lord says.
Leather floors are maintained the same way as hardwood floors, with pH-neutral cleaners or wax, allowing them to be mixed with hardwood or bamboo inlays. The product has now been used in applications traditionally reserved for wood — bar and table tops, panels, casework, closet cabinets, doors and other unique applications.
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