The quality of leather is determined by its grain
Leather quality can be a complex matter if you’re not familiar with the terms. But in the end it’s all about the grain. Leather grain is an indicator of the natural quality of the material. The better quality the grain, the less work the material needs. Yet, there is often confusion about the different quality indicators, so we put them in order for you:
- Full-Grain leather
The finest quality leather you will find is full-grain, as it does not need any work on its structure to get it ready for use. Because it doesn’t require any buffing or sanding, it’s more natural-looking, and as such is found in quality leather goods.
- Corrected Grain leather (also called top grain)
Often mistaken as the best quality, because of it’s flawless appearance, its name actually refers to the mild sanding and buffing used to remove imperfections in the top layer of the leather. When this is entirely shaved of instead, we call it grain suede. Corrected grain leather develops protective properties against damage and corrosion, is less expensive, and more stain repelling.
- Split leather
Split leather is usually the bottom layer of leather that has been cut through its thickness, and can be called genuine split leather (as long as the finish is thin enough).
When you split leather, you end with a grain side (the upper side of the hide) and a flesh side. The flesh side is commonly turned into suede. A different type of leather-based material.
- Genuine leather
All of these are genuine leather as they come from the hide or skin of an animal, and as long as the finish is less than 0.15mm thick, and the material is more-or-less intact. Leather that has been shredded and reconstituted is not genuine leather. If it has no grain, then it has to be called “genuine split leather.
Though we talk about quality here, it doesn’t diminish any of these leathers. Each has its own particular function and application, for which it is most suited. Each can last you with the right treatment and use and can be enhanced with the right finishing products and treatment.