Leather mainly comes from the skin of cows and sheep. It is used to make shoes, clothes, saddles, watches (mainly the straps), holsters, and a variety of other accessories. Leather material is famous for its durability and known for being a classic material that has never gone out of style.
There are many different types of leather, each identified by the part of the hide it is obtained from. For instance, grain is what you get after removing hair from the hide. It has two layers; the top grain and the split. The split normally does not have any natural grain. It is obtained from the lower layer of the natural grain.
Below are the all the different types of leather and their unique characteristics:
1. Full Grain Leather
This is the most natural type of leather. It is made by removing the hair from the epidermis. Another reason why this is the most natural form of leather is that the resultant grain is not subjected to polishing or finishing. You get it is as ‘raw’ as possible.
There are two ways you can give full grain leather a finishing touch: the aniline finish and the semi-aniline finish. Aniline finish involves dipping the full grain leather into a transparent dye that gives the leather a uniform colour while at the same time maintaining the natural effect of the full grain leather. A semi-aniline finish is obtained by adding an extra coating to protect the leather from staining.
Full grain leather is the most popular choice among high-end leather products due to its strength and durability, which makes it more expensive than other types of leather. If one type of leather is the purest, full-grain leather is the closest you can get.
2. Top Grain Leather
Unlike the full grain leather, top grain leather is extracted from the outer portion of the hide. The only difference between top grain leather and full grain leather is that the former goes through a process of removing imperfections through sanding and buffing to make the surfaces more refined.
Artificial grain is then added to cover up scrapes, scars and the imperfections to give it an unbroken finish. Top grain leather is strong and more refined, but on durability, full grain leather steals the show.
3. Split Leather
This type of leather is extracted from what remains after the top grain is removed. Comparatively, split leather is more fragile and can easily get damaged if not handled properly. It is harder but cheaper than the full grain leather.
Due to the strain and the rigorous splitting process it is subjected to, it is highly fragile and can break or tear easily.
4. Corrected Grain Leather
Corrected grain leather is full grain leather that has been polished to correct scratches on the grain. This type of leather is made from poor quality hides. To make it more refined and enhance its appeal, it is subjected to semi-aniline finishing to correct the imperfections and improve quality.
5. Suede Leather
This type of leather is also called nubuck or buffed leather. It is made by separating the layer between the grain and the skin. It is usually buffed on the surface to create a soft layer. Suede leather is cheaper compared to full grain leather, but it is fragile. It also damages quickly when in contact with liquids. The surface of suede leather feels like velvet fabric.
6. Coated Leather
Also referred to as bicast leather, coated leather is more durable than other leather types. It is basically a synthetic type of split leather obtained by coating the surface with polyurethane. This is the most durable type of leather you can find. It was originally used in the shoe industry but, because of its durability and affordability, it is now used for upholstery, and on furniture.
7. Faux Leather
As the name suggests, this is not pure leather. It is durable manufactured leather made using artificial material. It looks and feels as good as original leather. If you want to experience the look and feel of real leather, faux leather is (ironically) a good yet affordable compromise. Although it is the cheapest type of leather, it does not damage easily. This is why commercial establishments use it to make furniture and other leather products.
Leather has been around for a while. Almost all generations have used it to keep themselves warm, making it a critical part of winter clothing. While the core material has remained unchanged, the process it goes through before it is released to make a variety of leather products has undergone drastic reengineering. Today, you can choose your preferred leather product from a variety of leather types, including faux, depending on your budget and taste.
Whether it’s a leather shoe, jacket, upholstery, or a couch, you cannot go wrong with the different types of leather. Each leather type has a distinct look and feel that transcends generations and fashion trends.