by TATYZ on June 3rd, 2018

      Leathers are made from the skins of many animals but mainly cattle, goat, sheep and pigskins.  

     Although there is a great variety of leather types, a leather by appearance  can usually be put into one of three  major categories :

  1) Leather with top coat

  2) Leather without top coat

  3) Leather with velvety top finish


   First type of leather has special  top coat  which helps to  protect the hide from  wearing out and stains.  This type of leather includes:
  •   Pigmented leather
  •   Semi-aniline leather
  •   BiCast  leather

   Pigmented (protected) leather have a  thick polymer surface coating which contains pigments. The grain surface  of full grain pigmented leather  is left intact before applying the surface coating. 
      In 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.
  Pigmented Leather  is  the most durable used in the majority of furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery. 
   The surface coating allows the manufacturer more control over the properties of the leather, e.g. resistance to scuffing or fading. This makes the material less breathable but at the same time easier to clean and less sensitive to dirt.
   Semi-aniline leather have a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigments . It is is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. It has good  stain resistance qualities.

   Bicast leather  (also known as laminated leather or reconstituted leather or finished split leather)  is made of 2 layers: split  bottom layer  of the hide and  top layer of polymer like polyurethane  which then can be embossed to look like a real leather.  Unlike pigmented and semi-aniline leather, bicast leather  is not as breathable and  lacking  in strength and flexibility. 
It should only be used in low stress applications because they are weaker than grain leather. 


   Leather without top coat  doesn't  have any thick protected top coat which gives it  more natural look. This category includes:
  •   Aniline leather
  •   Pull-up leather
     Aniline leather ( also known as nappa  leather, full grain) is the most natural looking leather with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible. Aniline leather is coloured only with dye and not with a surface coating of polymer . These leathers are also called natural, naked or unprotected. This means that you are able to see the actual surface grain and markings. It  is soft and breathable, but doesn't have water-resistant properties.
      Aniline leathers are extremely sensitive to dirt and fat, as well as to colour fading as leather´s pores are not sealed. A light surface coating(treatment) may be applied to enhance its appearance and offer slight protection against spillages , soiling and sunlight and makes it easier to clean but less breathable.

     Pull-up leather    also known as waxy or oily pull-up is the leather with natural appearance which id deeply impregnated with oils and waxes.  As you bend or pull this type of leather, oils in the skin move around  causing interesting colours and lighter tones to be visible. The look of this leather will change with use.  The oils and waxes provide even more beautiful shading and unique worn-in effect with time.


This type of leather has velvety effect. It includes:
  •  Nubuck
  •  Suede
  •  Velour

     Nubuck is basically soft  aniline dyed leather which has been lightly abraded/sanded on the grain surface to create a velvety finish or  slight nap. In some cases the grain pattern is still visible. The nap is very fine because of the tight fibre structure in the grain layer. The brushing also makes the leather even more absorbent than aniline leathers and may have a directional nap. It is soft to the touch, scratches easily, and water drops darken it temporarily (it dries to its original color). The overall effect is a texture similar to velvet, so people tend to confuse nubuck leathers with suede.

   Suede is  the flesh-split (lower layer)  which has been abraded on 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 fibre structure.  Suede has velvety look on both sides.
    Velour  is  the grain-split  (upper layer)  or just whole leather  ( depends on the thickness of leather)  bottom  side  of which  has been sanded to raise the nap.  The other side is the actual grain surface. Velours leather is extremely robust and breathable.
      Nubuck, suede, velour  don't have any protected coat.  Open nap makes a nubuck  and suede susceptible to fading when exposed to sunlight or excessive heat sources.› Nubucks tend to grab soil and dirts easily so it requires special cleaning and maintenance kits.  


     It takes time and experience. You must not only  look closely to its appearance,  but feel and handle it as well as identify  the finish of the leather and its pattern - natural grains and  creases, skin imperfections, artificial embossed pattern, etc.

     For example, aniline leather is light and flexible  and have  creases and pores of the hide because they have not been filled out by a surface coating.

     Semi-aniline leather has less distinctive creases because they have been partially filled by the surface coating as if the surface had been covered with a thin coat of paint.

     In pigmented leather creases of the grain pattern have been filled out as if the surface had been given a few coats of paint. In this case the grain pattern you see was embossed onto the finished leather.  It's very hard to identify genuine full grain and corrected embossed  grain. This leather is feel more stiff  and plastic and can also be shiny.

     Bicast leather is usually have a thick top polymer coat which you can easily see on  the edge.   Usually this type of leather doesn't have any  grain surface or  scars and imperfections. It feels rather plastic and stiff.

     Pull-up leather is easy to identify as it doesn't have even color. The colour of the leather will change  where the leather is pulled in two different directions . Surface scratches are more pronounced but can be removed by rubbing them with your fingertips. The warmth of your hand releases the natural oils, blending away the marks.

     Velours and suede are soft leather with velvety  look  as they don't have any polymer coat. They  may  appear quite similar. Suede has velvety look on both  sides, while velours has it on only one side.

 Nubuck is  similar to suede but the nap is very short. The grain pattern is still visible as  is created from the outer side of a hide, giving it more strength and thickness and a fine grain. It is generally more expensive than suede. 







Posted in All About Leather    Tagged with semi-aniline leather, pigmented leather, genuine leather types, how to identify leather type, velour leather, suede leather, difference between suede nubuck velour, oil leather, pull-up leather


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