The Different Grades of Leather

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Different qualities of Leather

Leather Grading
Generally, leather is the finished product after animal hide has been processed through a method known as tanning. Raw hide can be sourced from animals like cow, buffalo, pig, sheep, deer, crocodile, snake, kangaroo, elk, seal and many, many more.
The value of the leather is determined by its source; for instance, leather from crocodile hide typically costs more than leather made from cow hide.

Leather grading is actually determined by the process in which the hide is transformed into leather or considered usable. For instance, raw hide undergoes a process whereby it is scraped, stretched and soaked in lime while chrome tanned leather is prepared using various chemicals. The leather’s durability and softness is determined by the process it has undergone. This is why leather varies as the different types undergo different processes and therefore, vary in uses.

Many of us love leather garments and leather accessories; however, very few of us are even remotely aware of the different qualities of leather which are used for different purposes such as book binding, footwear, clothing, car upholstery, furniture, luggage and more. Cow hide produces the most common types of leather; therefore it has more uses and it is especially good for making watch bands and other leather accessories.

The Different Grades of Leather

Full Grain Leather:
This is the best and the first highest grade leather as it comes from the top layer of the hide which has all of the grain, hence the name full grain. This rather expensive leather appears untreated in that it retains all the scars and discolorations from injury that the animal had in the past. It grows more beautiful with use and it is especially suitable for making bags. It is also durable and resilient and a good number of consumers like its unique appearance.

Top Grain Leather:
This is the second highest grade leather as it is separated from the top layer of discolored hide and then sanded and spray painted. This process removes all the scars. It is sturdy and durable but doesn't age particularly well with use. One benefit is that it doesn't stain easily. This leather can be used for various purposes including car upholstery, clothing, jackets and much more.

Genuine Leather:
This is the third grade of leather and it is produced from the remaining layers of hide after the top layers have been split off. Its surface is sometimes spray painted and or embossed to look like a higher grade, and it can either be smooth or rough.

Bonded leather:
This low grade leather is produced from leftover oddments which are milled together with glue and resurfaced using a process similar to that of vinly production. It has 90% manmade fibers and 10% genuine leather fibers. This leather can be weak and it may age quickly. This grade of leather is often used for making mass-produced Bible covers.


Other types of leather include

A type of leather that feels soft with no coating on its surface. It susceptible to dirt and staining, making it difficult to maintain. This type of leather is used on clothing and furniture.

A soft, light type of leather that is also not coated; however, it does have a finished appearance. One negative aspect of this leather is that if a single drop of water spills on it; it is immediately absorbed resulting into a dark spot. This type of leather is hard to maintain and it is commonly used in furniture.

This is a type of aniline leather. It has a brushed appearance, and normally changes color when one touches the surface. Much like the semi-aniline leather, it will absorb water when wiped creating a dark spot.

Buckskin leather:
These are also used on clothing, bags, accessories like watch bands, belts and more. Buckskin leather is processed using animal fats and this prevents the leather from decaying.

Patent Leather:
Patent leather has a coating added to it's surface to give it the glossy appearance.



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