Types of Leather
Naturally-treated leather is expensive and rare. Leather quality is determined by the hide it’s made from and the tanning process it undergoes. When selecting the best leather it is important to understand the various leather types produced and their processes.
Full Grain or Top Grain Leather – (“the best”)
This leather is found on the upper layer of the hide and can vary in thickness depending on the splitting process. The outer layer will show natural scars and haircell patterns if left as an uncorrected natural grain. This leather is the most valuable because it is the strongest and most durable layer of hide.
Corrected or Embossed Grain – (“second best ”, full grain)
Hides with an excessive amount of scratches or scars have to be further processed by “correcting” the natural grain. To do this, the natural grain is buffed or sanded down and replaced with an embossed grain and finish to mimic various hair cell patterns. The result will look flawless with no visible scars, but is no longer the real or natural grain. The original feel and durability of the natural skin is also diminished by adding a synthetic grain and finish.
Split Suede – (“functional and inexpensive”)
The second layer of the skin, after removing the Full Grain layer, is the Split Suede layer and is suede on both sides. This layer of the skin can also be processed by applying a synthetic finish and hair cell to one side of the suede in order to create an artificial Full Grain leather look, known as “finished split” hide.
Nubuck Sueded Grain – (“look but don't touch”)
A suede effect is given to the Full Grain layer of the skin by lightly sanding the natural grain to open the hair cell. This also corrects imperfections in the natural grain and although soft to the touch, it is also very delicate. Extreme care must be taken as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to clean once soiled or stained.