Types of Leather

Most people are well aware of the rugged durability and style of well-made leather work. But a lot of people don't realize that all leather is not created equal. Some leathers are simply better suited for certain tasks than others. There are the main types of leathers for a person to consider when shopping or thinking about getting into the craft themselves. These types are full grain leather, top grain leather, and genuine leather.


Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather is the top of the line best leather out there. It comes from the very top of the hide and it contains all of the grain; which is where a lot the textile strength comes from. Full grain leather is the strongest off all the leathers and is typically used for things like saddles and very high quality footwear and clothing. Full grain leather breathes better than any other leather making it the best candidate for standing up to age and moisture. Instead of wearing out with prolonged use like most other leathers, full grain leather may experience some discoloration and a nice patina due to oxidization that will give it a more realistic leather appearance.


Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is the next step down on the leather scale. This leather comes from the part of the hide directly under the full grain section. Top grain leather is usually sanded down and given a smoother appearance and is more pliable than it's higher quality counterpart. Because of its added finish top grain leather is more resistant to staining than full grain making it a better fit for furniture and some clothing sets. This leather won't develop the rustic look of full grain with time but it is still a very good material to work with or own.


Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is the most commonly used leather. This leather comes from the remainder of the hide once all the grain has been split from it. Genuine leather has the least amount of grain of the natural leather types. This leather is the softest leather and perhaps the easiest to work with. Genuine leather is commonly used in jackets, wallets, bags, or other projects that would otherwise be done with a softer fabric. Genuine leather is typically more durable and warmer than cotton and it is often refinished to have the resemblance of higher quality leather. Genuine leather is generally the most economical of these three natural leather types.

For centuries people have appreciated the many applications that can be found in leather. From ancient armors to greaser jackets to modern handbags, leather has kept up with the times. Once people understand more about the hide itself, perhaps that appreciation can grow even further.


Traditional Leather Tanning in Fez, Morocco