Leather buying - Understanding the main types of leather

Leather buying - Understanding the main types of leather

Full grain leather 

Full grain leather is the top layer of the hide just below the hair and includes all the grain with it. It retains the toughness, natural charactistics and imperfections of the animal. It is the highest quality leather, hense the most expensive. The leather absorbs oils and patina over time. 

It is the highest quality leather and the most expensive. Working with this leather material is challenging but rewarding. It absorbs body oils and develops a patina over time, which is is sought after.

Example of uses: Motorcycle saddle bags, suitcases, bags, sheaths, holsters, belts, boots etc

Top Grain Leather

Top grain is the second highest grade of leather. It is made when the top layer of skin from blemished hides is split and the surface is sanded to correct imperfections. This results in a more uniformed finish. 

This also makes top grain leather smoother and more flexible than the full grain. Top Grain leather is strong and durable, yet not as tough as full grain. It is used to produce suede and nubuck. 

Example of uses: Bags, cases, wallets. 

Corrected / Split / Genuine Grain Leather

Corrected grain is also called split leather or genuine leather. It is what is left when the top layers are split off to make full grain and top grain leather.  Split leather is tougher in texture and is sanded to correct imperfections. The surface is often embossed with a leather looking pattern. 

Example of uses: Furniture, footwear, handbags, purses, wallets. 

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is made up from the leftovers of the hide. Scraps, shavings and dust are bonded together with polyurethane or latex on top of a fiber sheet. 

Example of uses: Furniture, bags, accessories, book binding, belts.

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