The Types Of Leather
There are so many varying types of leather, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between them all. In this article we hope to define the most common types of leather all of which have a variety of different uses.
This is the most natural looking leather with the uniqueness of the patterns of the individual hide being apparent. This type of leather is also only coloured with natural dye and not artificial processes. It is the most attractive and expensive out of all the leathers and feels incredibly soft as only the very best of hides can be used to produce it. Due to aniline not having a top surface coating, it can breathe more easily and is feels slightly cooler than many other leather types.
This is the mix of both aniline and pigmented leather, with the addition of a light surface coating which contains small quantities of pigments which contributes to the prevention of stains. This means it has the softness of the aniline leather with the added protective benefits of a surface coating. By adding a colouring dye, an even colour is achieved and as only a thin layer is needed, softness is maintained.
This is the most durable type, but comes across as the most artificial due to it’s polymer surface coating. The leather has been buffed/corrected to eliminate any blemishes in the hide. It’s then coloured and coated and then embossed with a grain pattern to resemble natural leather and to prevent colour fading.
Full grain pigmented leather
This is leather that has not been sanded or buffered, so that the grain surface is left intact before adding a surface coating. It comes from the very top layer of hide which contains most of the grain (hence the name).
This is where the dust and shavings of the leftover leather scraps are glued together and then resurfaced to resemble grains. It’s a lot weaker than other types of leather.
Corrected grain pigmented leather
Contrary to full grain leather, this type is smoothed over to eliminate any imperfections prior to coating the surface. An artificial grain pattern is then printed onto the surface instead. The hides that are used to create this leather are not of high enough quality for top grain leather, which is why their imperfections are replaced.
Finished split leather
When a certain hide is very thick, the top grain is removed and the remaining leather is split down into numerous layers until it’s at the desired thickness. These ‘splits’ then have an artificial layer added to their surface and then embossed with a leather type grain, so that they resemble what the original hide looked like before the split.
Antique grain (two-tone or rub-off)
This is a customised effect which creates a unique worn and ‘used’ effect on the surface of the leather. To get this, a top coat is applied and then partially rubbed off to reveal part of the underlying original colour.
Pull-up leather (also known as waxy or oily pull-up)
This is where the leather has been coloured with aniline dyes which have been combined with natural based oils and/or waxes which tend to darken the original aniline dye but ‘pull up’ the lighter colour when stretched. This type of leather lightens with age so it takes on a used and worn look which increases over time.
This has a velvet like surface which is generated by lightly rubbing the surface of aniline leather. Some types of nubuck may still have their original grain pattern visible but this depends on the abrasiveness of the process. Often confused with suede, nubuck is made from the flesh side of a hide and the effect is carried out on the grain side. This rubbing method makes the leather soft as it opens up the fibres and makes it quite absorbent.
Suede is also created from a split, and so is usually thinner which means it may be less durable than full grain leather. Suede features a distinctive nap on one side which is achieved by rubbing the surface of the leather giving it more of a ‘loose’ structural appearance. It appears to be ‘fuzzy’ on both sides and is less durable than top grain leather due to it’s thickness