different types of leather

5 Different Types of Leather: a Complete Guide

For your project to turn out well, it’s critical to select the appropriate leather. Let’s learn about five different types of leather.

Make sure you are aware of the costs involved when purchasing leather goods. This frequently entails navigating the marketing and picking up some of the lingo used to describe various kinds of leather.

There are countless amazing leather types available. Every one of them has special qualities that are advantageous to various project types or working methods. Genuine, full grain, top grain, split grain, and bonded leather are among the available types.

This simple glossary defines some of the terms leather buyers are likely to run into in order to help clear up any confusion.

Types of Leather

While there are many types of leather, often, folks will be curious about the “5 types of leather”. When they talk about volume and layers, they generally mean how much of the original hide is still visible in the finished product. These are full grain, top grain, genuine, split grain, and bonded leather, and much detail about each will be shared.

Full Grain Leather

Full Grain Leather

The top layer of the hide is called full-grain leather. It is dyed with aniline dyes, which are soluble and do not cover the hide’s natural surface. There are times when a semi-aniline dye is used to give the leather a thin layer of protection and guard against stains.

The vertical fibers in this area of the leather make it the strongest and most resilient part of the hide; it won’t peel or crack, tear or puncture. Because of the tight grain pattern, moisture cannot penetrate it.

Every piece of Full Grain leather tells the tale of the animal, which contributes to its allure. All of the animal’s markings and irregularities are still present, including insect bites, brand marks, wrinkles, and scars from brushing up against a barbed wire fence or cactus.

Anyone who has owned full-grain leather is aware that it gets prettier over time and acquires a rich patina.

Top Grain Leather

Top Grain Leather

Top-grain leather has a uniform, smooth appearance. Top-grain leather is typically simpler to work with for manufacturers because it is slightly thinner than full-grain leather. Top-grain leather has a flawless texture after being sanded, which removes a thin surface layer and gets rid of any impurities.

At this point, any design, including ones that resemble snake, alligator, or ostrich skin, can be stamped or imprinted on it. Top-grain leather is used to make a variety of belts, wallets, purses, and other accessories, both high-end and mid-range.

Top grain is less durable when the hardest fibers are removed, but most stains and scrapes can be avoided with a protective finish.

Genuine Leather (Corrected Leather)

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather can come from any layer of the hide and undergoes treatment to the surface to provide a more uniform, “corrected”, appearance. It can be sanded or buffed to remove surface blemishes, then dyed (or spray painted), stamped, or embossed to give it a final surface appearance.

Although not of the highest quality, the process changes some of the desired characteristics of the leather, so it is frequently used for belts and other products of a similar nature.

Split Grain Leather

Split Grain Leather

It’s common practice to divide thick animal hides into at least two layers in order to make them thinner and easier to handle. Split leather, split grain leather, or genuine leather are all terms used to describe the area closest to the animal’s flesh.

Split leather lacks the exterior layer of the hide’s character marks and grain. It can be made into suede or can be made to feel and look more like top-grain leather by being sanded, embossed, and colored.

However, hides that undergo surface coating lose their ability to breathe and are not as robust as the leather of higher grade. While stamped and treated split-grain leather works best for other applications, suede split-grain leather is a common choice for apparel and accessories.

This material is commonly used as a covering in low-impact areas of car interiors like steering wheels and door linings. Split leather may also be present on furniture’s rarely used outside and back panels.

Bonded Leather (Reconstituted Leather)

Bonded Leather (Reconstituted Leather)

When leather scraps are finely shredded and bonded together with polyurethane or latex onto a fiber mesh or sheet, the result is bonded leather, which is similar to scrapple or hot dogs in the world of leather. The functional and aesthetic qualities of the finished product are affected by the actual leather content, which can range from 10% to 90%.

Bonded leather is frequently painted to give it color, and it may also be pressed or embossed to give the appearance of a specific grain or leather style.

How to Spot Fake Leather?

There are several ways to identify grain leather imitators, in which bonded or split leather is embossed to resemble more resilient grain leather. A very regular or monotonous pattern on the leather in question might be a sign of embossing.

A pull-up effect, which happens when grain leather is bent or folded, is also absent from synthetic leather. Ineffectively absorbing leather conditioners are painted or polyurethane layers because they lack pores.

Once more, I’d like to issue a warning to the general public: many of these terms are not used consistently, and you can easily become perplexed. The most common mistake I’ve run into is the use of the term “genuine leather”.

Genuine leather is most frequently used to describe low-quality split leather, but to be honest, it’s a dumb word, because many people (including myself) have made the very easy mistake of assuming that the word “genuine” means the opposite of “fake.”

5 Different Types of Leather: a Complete Guide

So I’ve seen lots of leather shops use the term “genuine” in their product descriptions, in an attempt to convey the fact that they are not using faux leather. But even though they have a reliable product made with good leather, that term only serves to scare people away.

How to Care for Your Leather Goods?

It will help to maintain its appearance and extend its lifespan to learn how to care for your leather goods. The grade of the leather determines the appropriate cleaning procedures. Here are some useful suggestions for leather maintenance in addition to consulting the manufacturer’s instructions.


To get rid of any dirt, use a dry cloth to spot-clean your leather items. Use dry hands when handling leather that has been lightly treated or untreated, as these materials are more prone to stains.

Other Non-suede Leather

Use a small amount of soap and warm water to remove blemishes from materials other than suede. Don’t expose them to heat; let things air dry. Always spot-test a small area before using a condition or cleaning product on your leather goods.

Conclusion: Different Types of Leather

Full grain, top grain, genuine, split grain, and bonded leather are the five different types of leather. Depending on where in the hide the finished leather comes from, the material’s qualities and properties change. Numerous other factors can also affect the quality of leather.

With a piece made of high-quality leather, it’s time to up your accessory game. The beauty of a new leather item, whether it be a watch, belt, or bag, can instantly upgrade your wardrobe.


What is the Highest Quality Leather?

The most expensive grade of leather available is full-grain leather. It contains all of the natural grain and is derived from the top layer of the hide. It is more expensive for manufacturers to purchase and more challenging for them to use.

Which Skin Leather is Best?

Among real leathers, full-grain leather is by far the best in terms of quality. The strongest and most reliable kind of leather is full grain, which, in contrast to the other grains, has not been split from the top grain or split layers.

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