One of the most overlooked materials for flooring has to be leather. Wood, tile, linoleum and carpet are the typical products underneath us and our furniture. And although leather is never far from most of our feet, we tend not to associate it with something stuck to the floor.
Leather’s attractiveness as a building material is that it is sustainable, renewable and a by-product of the food industry (yes it really is “green”). There are two categories of leather flooring: hide tiles and recycled tiles. Hide tiles are actually whole pieces of tanned leather die cut in squares or rectangles with a thickness of about 1/8”. The backside can be left natural or bonded to a substrate whereas the front can be embossed or finished in almost any color or finish. Recycled tiles are actually similar to linoleum where the leather scrap is ground, combined with other materials and formed into tiles. Recycled tiles can also have a variety of finishes mimicking real leather or other interesting textures.
Both tiles are installed similarly with adhesive with real hide needing a bit more time to acclimate to the room before gluing down. They can even be installed over radiant heated floors in more moderate climates. With a bit of occasional wax and avoidance of water (no bathroom or kitchen installations please) the flooring will develop a rich patina and last for decades.
It lends a particularly luxurious touch when installed in smaller, less trafficked areas such as bedrooms, offices and walk-in closets. When installed on the wall leather can offer warmth and character in otherwise unremarkable space. And just imagine the feeling of walking on it with bare feet.