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Leather Quality

Design Time on WMEN
July 2021

TV5 Design Time WNEM

Leather Terms

aniline (an-a-lin) dyed:

the process of coloring leathers throughout with transparent dyes.


the light application of one color over another, (usually a darker color over a lighter color) to create highlights.

corrected grain leather:

leather whose natural surface texture has been altered.


a dyeing process in which leather is immersed in dye and tumbled in a rotating drum, allowing maximum dye penetration.


the application of color, either by spraying, hand-rubbing or immersion.


a process in which design is added to leathers surface by pressure to alter or enhance the surface, resulting in uniform imitation grain or unique patterns.


any post tanning treatment, such as: dyeing, rolling, pressing, spraying, lacquering, antiquing, waxing, buffing, embossing, glazing, waterproofing or flameproofing.

full grain:

a term which indicates that leather possesses its original, natural grain; leather which has not been altered.


the distinctive pore and wrinkle pattern of a hide; may be either natural or embossed.


a term used to describe the softness or feel of a leather.


skins of animals, usually cattle, sheep or water buffalo.


a generic term for all hides and skins which have been tanned and finished.

patina (pa-tee-na):

a lustre that develops with time and use.

premium select:

a term describing hides with very few scars or blemishes, usually less than 5% of all hides.


refers to the removal of grain, scars and blemishes from a hide's surface.

semi-aniline (an-a-lin):

leathers which have been aniline dyed then top coated with matching pigments to even out the color (also called "aniline plus").


underlying layers of leather, usually used for suedes, not top grain.


cutting a hide into two or more layers.


treating raw hides to reduce their perishability.

top grain:

the top surface of the hide.


a process in which hides are tumbled in a rotating drum to soften the hand or enhance the grain.

Is the Leather Top Grain?

Top grain is the natural top surface of the hide with a denser cell structure, creating the leather's tensile strength.

Split leather which is the slice taken from the back of the hide is not as durable and makes a poor surface for the colored top coat. The color tends to break or crack.

Are The Pieces Covered Entirely in Leather?

Many items are sold as leather match or leather plus, which are leather and vinyl combinations.

Ask if the furniture is manufactured with 100% top grain leather.

How is the Leather Surface Protected?

Ask if the leather patterms are protected by a clear top coat, which seals the surface, or a "scotchguard type" product is applied that penetrates the hide and encapsulates the leather fibers.

Some leather manufacturers Do not protect their leathers.


What is the Internal Construction of the Piece and How Will This Lengthen the Useful Life of the Upholstered Furniture?

Many of our structural frame components, utilizes northern maple which is kiln dried to reduce expansion and contraction.

One of our companies, Leathercraft employs steel coil springs supported by crossed steel webbing.

Leathercraft uses 2.0 lb./cu.ft. density or higher pure polyurethane which encapsulates coil springs. Remember, the higher the density of the polyurethane, the longer the life of the cushion.

Down, feather and fiber cushions are also available, affording a deep, plush, "sit-in" experience.

Why Are There Different Grades or Costs of Leather?

Leather is a natural commodity and is graded much like a diamond. The fewer imperfections on the hide, the rarer it is to acquire. Therefore, there is less supply and a higher cost.

The cooler climates of Northern Europe, in conjunction with the animals being raised in pens or pastures, produce hides with the least amount of imperfections.

The hotter climate, with the greatest extremes, in conjunction with the animals being raised on an open range, produce hides that are more weathered and contain scars and insect bites that must be mechanically sanded or buffed off before color can be sprayed on.

There is a greater quantity of cattle produced on the open ranges of the world, creating a greater supply. Therefore, these hides are less costly.

In order, Northern European hides are considered premium select with the least imperfection.

United States domestic hides are selected in the mid-range.

Southern American, Southeast Asian, Australian and North African hides contain the greatest number of imperfections and are the least costly.

The cost of leather is determined by the origin of the animal and by supply and demand; Not by Where the hides are tanned. i.e.: the majority of tanneries use South American hides.

What Determines Seating Comfort?

Frame Stability: Leathercraft uses kiln dried northern hardwoods with the joints corner-blocked and double-doweled and fastened with wood screws.

Coil Spring Height: The seat springs are 9" coils which provide deep, plush seating and ensure resilient performance year after year.

Cushion Quality: Premium grade seat cushions of polyurethane contain coil innersprings engineered specifically for seating comfort, long wear, and plushness.

Loose seat and back cushions can be adjusted for comfort as opposed to attached seat and back surfaces.

Loose cushions also afford the opportunity of easy replacement if damage should occur to the surface of the leather; i.e.: scratches, cuts and abrasions. Leathercraft also offers an ultraplush down leather and fiber seating system for the ultimate "sit-in" experience.

An Overview Guide to Leather Grades; Types of Leather.

Leather is a material loved by many for its flexibility and durability. It is made from tanning animal skins or hides and many different animals are used to make leather. Leather has four basic grains or qualities; those are full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine leather, and corrected-grain leather.


Full-grain leather is characterized by its luxurious, smooth surface and it has few, if any, flaws. It is the most popular type of leather. It has not been snuffed, sanded, or buffed to remove any natural marks or imperfections from its surface. Its fibers are stable and durable because the grain has not been removed. There is less moisture in the leather from any prolonged contact as the grain has a characteristic of breathing. This type of leather does not wear out easily. Instead, it develops a patina, which is a thin layer that protects the leather from damage from wearing or corroding; it also gives the leather an aesthetic look. It is used in making high-quality footwear and furniture.

It has two finished product types; Aniline and semi-aniline. Aniline leather is the most desirable finish in the manufacture of leather. It is exclusively dyed using soluble dyes without covering the top with insoluble pigment or topcoat paint. Semi-aniline has a thin protective coat, which protects it from staining and wearing out.


Top-grain leather has the second-highest leather quality of the high-end category of leather products. It is more pliable and thinner as its layer is separated away. Its surface is sanded, and a finish coat is added to make it less breathable with a plastic feel and this makes it seem cooler. Also, it develops pinna that protects it from damage and corrosion making it last longer. It has better stain resistance and is less expensive than full-grain leather. Many people prefer buying this type of leather as it is durable and readily available.



Genuine leather is made from real lather. In a class of real leather products, genuine leather products are the lowest in quality. These products are made from the leftover of leather after the high-end products are made. The products manufactured from it do not look or feel as pleasing compared to those made from high-quality leather. Likewise, products made from genuine leather do not last as long before they wear out. However, most people can afford this type of leather product as they are widely available.


Corrected-grain leather is also referred to as the lesser-known grain. It is a special type of leather, which is corrected and fixed by experienced leatherworkers to better its functionality and aesthetic qualities. Hides used in making it do not meet the required standards in making aniline and vegetable-tanned leather. An artificial grain has been embossed on the top and dressed-out using dyes and/or stains. Imperfections are usually sanded off and then corrected. Corrected-grain is used to make pigmented leather. This type of leather is usually readily available in the stores and is more affordable.

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