Types of Leather | Leather Grades

In our daily life, we use a lot of leather products, such as bags, shoes, belts, clothing, furniture and so on. So do you really know leather? How many kinds of leather there are? Now let's get to know it together.

It is known that leather is from the animal. Animals live outside, rub up against fences, get bitten by bugs, fight with others in their herd, and roll around on the ground to scratch their backs. Therefore, the living environment and quality of life of the animal will inevitably affect the quality of the leather.

The original leather was removed from the cattle and tanned. Then after shaving off the hair, cutting meat, dehydration and many other complicated steps, the leather was made of wet blue leather. The wet blue leather was able to preserved and don’t rot. The leather is very thick at this time.

The wet blue leather must be split before entering the next step because it is too thick. According to different uses, such as furniture, bag material, or other needs, it is divided into proper thickness. Under normal conditions, the leather is divided into full grain leather, top grain leather, and genuine leather.

 leather types

The Full Grain Leather

Full grain refers to the strongest and most durable part of the hide of an animal, which is just below the hair. The best full grain leather should display the natural markings and grain characteristics from the animal of which it was taken. Full grain leather generally comes from a better quality hide or skin and no sanding processes are applied to its surface. Full grain leather offers a natural look and feel and is treated by transparent aniline dyes.

Every hide is unique as it comes from a different animal with different markings and blemishes - it tells a story. Full grain leather is extremely strong and durable, as the natural grain contains the strongest fibers in the hide. While strong and durable, full grain leather remains extremely breathable, resulting in less moisture from prolonged contact.

Full grain leather is the highest quality grade of leather money can buy. And it is more expensive for manufacturers to buy and more difficult for them to work with. This is reflected in the cost to the consumer. Usually, the product made of full grain leather is more expensive than other leather products.

The Top Grain Leather

The second highest quality leather is top grain leather.

Section of the full grain leather with defects is sanded using various tools and machines to remove a slight section of the upper grains. This leather is termed as top grain leather.

The natural grain from the top surface of top grain leather is sanded away, which removes imperfections and blemishes. After sanding away the natural grain, top grain leather is imprinted with an imitation grain to give it a more uniform look. However, the refinishing process of top grain leather greatly reduces the leather’s breathability, and also prevents the leather from developing a natural patina over time.

This leather is probably the most used leather in handbags, where a pristine look is desired.

The Genuine Leather

Genuine leather doesn't just mean that the product is made of real leather, but it also means it is the lowest quality of all products made out of real leather.

The lower section of the skin has its fibers aligned in a parallel fashion making it less durable and low quality. Genuine leather has no grain marks and has a very smooth surface. Normally it is pressed with artificial texture to give it a grainy look.

Genuine leather is leather, at least. Of the various possible grains and cuts, it’s at the bottom of the list, though. Relative to high-quality leathers like full grain and top grain, it’s definitely an inferior product.

This grade of leather is acceptable if you're just buying something cheaply and don't care too much about its quality. It won't last very long, so you probably shouldn't buy something made from it that you would use every day.

I hope that this article will be helpful the next time you go for a leather product purchase. If you want to find a durable leather product, you can choose one from RockCow Leather Studio, who only use full grain and top grain leather to make each leather product to be as good as possible.


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