How do I know what type of leather is used on my furniture? What are the grades of leather? Finishes of leather?September 28, 2017 12:59 pm
Leathers are made from the skins of many animals. Although there are a great variety of leather types, leather can usually be put into one of three categories:
- Pigmented (protected)
Aniline leather is the most natural looking, with natural surface visible, but is less resistant to soiling
Semi-aniline leather is somewhere in-between on both counts, having a light surface coating
Pigmented/Finished (protected) leather is the most durable but is less natural in appearance, having a polymer, dye, finished coating
If you look closely at the tag label on the leather item you’re looking at, it should say what type of leather it is – otherwise ask the salesperson!
Aniline leather is the most natural looking leather with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible. Aniline leather is colored only with dye and not with a surface coating of polymer and pigment. A light surface coating may be applied to enhance its appearance and offer slight protection against spillages and soiling. Aniline leather
Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent color and imparts some stain resistance.
Pigmented Leather is the most durable and is used in the majority of furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery. The durability is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments.
The surface coating allows the manufacturer more control over the properties of the leather, e.g. resistance to scuffing or fading.
Full grain pigmented leather The grain surface is left intact before applying the surface coating.
Corrected grain pigmented leather The grain surface is abraded to remove imperfections before the surface coating is applied. A decorative grain pattern is then embossed into the surface.
Finished split leather The middle or lower section of a hide with a polymer coating applied and embossed to mimic a grain leather. Finished splits should only be used in low stress applications because they are weaker than grain leather.
Antique grain (two-tone or rub-off) A special surface effect has been created to mimic the unique ‘worn’ appearance of traditional leathers. This is achieved by applying a contrasting top-coat which is applied unevenly or partially rubbed off to reveal a paler underlying colour.
Pull-up leather (also known as waxy or oily pull-up) A leather with a natural appearance which lightens in colour when stretched during wear to produce a unique worn-in effect with time.
Nubuck Aniline dyed leather which has been lightly abraded on the grain surface to create a velvety finish or nap. In some cases the grain pattern is still visible. The nap is very fine because of the tight fiber structure in the grain layer.
Suede A split which has been abraded to create a distinctive nap. The nap can vary in appearance but is not as fine as the nap on nubuck because of the looser fiber structure.
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