When purchasing leather furnishings, it’s importation to know what kind of leather you are purchasing. Below is a break down of different leather types to help you understand what you are buying and how to spot the different leather types.
Full Grain refers to leather that has not been altered by sanding or buffing. Full Grain leather retains the grain layer, original texture and markings that naturally occur during the lifetime of the animal and create a one-of-a-kind look for each upholstered product. The vast majority of Adobe’s Leather Furniture are designed on Full Grain hides.Full Grain is often confused with Top Grain, but “Top Grain” leather simply comes from the uppermost portion of a hide – the term “Top Grain” is refering to the layer of the hide from which the leather originates. Leather is split into layers and sold as two different products: Top Grain and Split leather. From the Top Grain portion of a hide comes both Full Grain and Corrected Grain leathers.
Corrected Grain is also Top Grain leather. Corrected Grain leather undergoes a light buffing process to better absorb dye and minimize the appearance of blemishes and natural leather markings on its surface. Corrected Grain leather is often preferred for use in projects where uniform color desired. Nubuck, a Corrected Grain leather, is Top Grain leather where the top hair cell layer has been removed by sanding, resulting in a luxurious nap and velvet-like surface. Split leathers are often sold as suede. They originate a few layers down from the grain.
Aniline leather is colored by immersing hides in a dye bath with transparent, aniline dyes that fully penetrate the hide. These leathers are the most natural and often the most pristine hides are used. All surface imperfections and flaws (or beauty marks) will be visible in aniline dyed leathers.
Semi Aniline leathers are aniline dyed with an added layer of pigment or surface coating to enhance durability and color consistency. Imperfections and flaws are still visible.
Vegetable Tanning is the oldest method of tanning. It utilizes vegetable tannins and extracts from trees and plants for use in the tanning process. Today, vegetable tanned leather is still utilized by boot and saddle makers.
Chrome Tanning is the most widely used process of tanning leather, accounting for approximately 90% of leather produced globally today. Invented in the 19th century, chrome tanning uses the minerals of chromium salts to tan hides and allows for a softer hand and a broader range of color.