Different Types of Leather For Furniture

Leather is commercially available and classified in four different categories. These describe the quality and section of the hide the leather is derived of. All types of leather are divided into these four classifications regardless of the animal it is derived from.

Full grain

This is the most expensive of all leather. It is the upper level on the hide. It is the most durable and natural looking leather as imperfections on the hide will be visible. It is the most breathable, most of the finest footwear and furniture is made from full grain leather.  This type of leather is great for a black leather office chair.

Top grain

Often mistaken for to quality leather, top grain leather is in fact second grade leather. It’s surface has been buffed, sanded and refinished to provider a smoother even finish. It is more resistant to stains and is less expensive than full grain. It is often used in the manufacturing of tack.

Corrected grain

This is any leather that has had artificial grain applied to its surface. They are of inferior quality for vegetable tanning and are often pigmented as solid colours help hide the hides’ imperfections. Used for a wide variety of purposes.  Perfect for a living room black leather arm chair, that needs to take a beating.

Split leather

Once the top grain of the hide has been removed the remaining layers of skin are split. Often resulting in two more leather sections known as the middle and flesh splits. These splits are used to produce suede and bycast leather. These four types are the main forms leather is sold as there are numerous others not always available commercially.

More specific types of leather:

  • Buckskin. Also known as brained leather. The leather is tanned using animal brains, it is a soft and supple leather and suede like in appearance.

  • Shagreen. Known more as sharkskin or stingray leather

  • Patent leather is leather having received a plastic coating

  • Vachetta leather. Untreated leather. Louis Vuitton aided in the commercial availability of this leather, because the leather is left untreated it is prone to stains and darkens over time

  • Slink leather. Made from the skin of unborn calves it is used mostly for cloves.

  • Deerskin leather. Used mostly for gloves, jackets, overcoats and professional sporting equipment

  • Nubuck. This is top grain cattle hide leather that has been sanded to provide a velvet like surface

  • Nappa leather. This is chrome-tanned leather used mostly for personal leather goods, car seats, higher quality executive or black leather chairs.

  • Bonded leather and leather board. This is not a true form of leather although it contains leather particles, it’s used in book binding and upholstery. It is usually dyed black.

  • Bycast leather is split leather that has had a polyurethane layer attached , used mostly in the shoe industry because of it’s consistent texture and colour. It is also easier to maintain.

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