Specifying a leather floor
Leather floors have remarkable qualities. Highly resilient and luxuriously tactile, they are warm in winter and cool in summer, yet require very little maintenance. As a material, leather ages gracefully, patinating and growing in character and personality with time. We’re proud that our first leather flooring was laid in 1986 and is still going strong.
One of humankind’s oldest manufactured materials, leather stirs superlatives; it’s smell and touch evoking primeval feelings of pleasure. Where damage occurs, leather can typically be repaired and brought back to its former glory without issue, and as a direct by-product of the meat industry, it is not only more beautiful, but also less environmentally impactful than faux alternatives.
When thinking of using leather as a flooring material, there are several factors to consider. The first is the usage and interior environment. Is the floor for a private residence, a public space, retail environment, or something else? How much foot traffic will it encounter?
The most common issue we see with leather flooring is when a client or contractor specifies a material that is inappropriate for the required usage. It is essential the type of leather is suitable for the application. At one side of the spectrum sit hard tannages, like pit-tanned oak bark leather (which is more resilient than many timbers) and appropriate for heavy-traffic retail environments. At the other end, sit buttery soft shoulder leathers that would be more suited to dressing rooms in private residences. We work with clients to recommend flooring leathers that meet aesthetic requirements, and will also provide longevity.
Second, are there specific benefits you are looking to achieve from your choice of material? Leather flooring is a natural choice for private cinemas for instance, given its acoustic properties. Elsewhere, for specialist aviation and nautical applications where construction codes require compliance with stringent material testing, leather’s natural fire retardant properties are an advantage.
For private gyms or for dressing rooms, flooring leathers coupled with underlay provide a robust, hypoallergenic and comfortable solution. For private offices, living spaces or games rooms, leather floors can be laid over underfloor heating without issue.
From an aesthetic perspective, considerations include method of floor construction and detailing. Factors such as tile size, shape and orientation are important, as are whether tiles will be plain butted, or stitched together. Leather colour, grain, texture or sheen are all variables that can be adjusted by our team. Detailing can include embossing’s or raised or fielded profiles around the floor’s perimeter. If you have an idea for a leather floor, please contact our design team here, who would love to discuss it with you.
All floors fitted by our leatherworkers are offered with a 10-year guarantee. We provide maintenance instructions on all our floors as standard, and offer after-care packages to keep your floor looking its best for years to come.
Our first leather floor was laid in 1986, and we have completed many more over the years. A few examples are below:
Private residence, Earl’s Court
We were asked to create leather flooring for a client’s media room and office in their London apartment. With natural acoustic qualities, leather can make the perfect flooring material for use with cinema and audio equipment.
A 3mm thick vegetable-tanned shoulder leather was selected for the project. Set out in a grid format, cut leather panels were then bonded to a ply flooring substrate, which was laid with a tongue-and-groove leather decking system. Extremely resilient, the floor simply requires an annual wax to keep its lustre, and will darken and patinate with age.
The Savoy Apartments
For this elegant Art Deco apartment above The Savoy Hotel in London, we created a shrunken bull floor with a wonderfully textured grain in the main lounge, grey buffalo stair treads, and an inlay leather carpet in the master dressing room.
We are particularly fond of the unique mosaic floor, created from a combination of three vegetable-tanned leathers in the hallway, and the sole bend leather and wenge parquet floor in the den, which leads out to the roof terrace.
We were commissioned to create a 280-square metre bespoke parquet leather floor as a central feature of Selfridges’ men’s shoe department. The single herringbone design focuses on the idea of ‘leather on leather’ – the floor being made of the same material as the soles of traditional shoes.
Given the high footfall, the project required the most durable and hard-wearing of materials; and we opted for an English vegetable pit-tanned soling bend leather, produced with an exceptionally high density. Untreated cut tiles were individually laid by our team on site, allowing the material to age naturally. With just a natural beeswax finish applied on top, the floor has been allowed to develop richer character over time.
Please get in touch with our team if you are interested in leather floors for an upcoming project.