What Leather Types are Used in the Manufacture of Furniture?

What do you need to know about the leather in your furniture?

Leather products are made from the skins of many animals but mainly cattle, goat, sheep and pigskins.
Although there are a great variety of leather types, leather can usually be put into one of three categories:
• Aniline
• Semi-aniline
• Pigmented (protected)

FS-1644-South Street Leather SectionalThe type you choose depends on the appearance you want, the product and the usage which the product receives.

Aniline leather is the most natural looking, with natural surface visible, but is less resistant to soiling.

Semi-aniline leather is somewhere in-between on both counts, having a light surface coating.

Pigmented (protected) leather is the most durable but is less natural in appearance, having a polymer coating.
…so if you’re buying furniture in the form of a leather suite and you’ve got a young family, an aniline suite probably isn’t for you!

If you look closely at the tag label on the leather item you’re looking at, it should say what type of leather it is – otherwise ask the salesperson!

Armed with a little knowledge about the three types of leather used to manufacture furniture, you can even go one step further and learn how to identify each. leather_-_real_vs_fake

Aniline leather is the most natural looking leather with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible. Aniline leather is colored only with dye and not with a surface coating of polymer and pigment. A light surface coating may be applied to enhance its appearance and offer slight protection against spillages and soiling.

Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent color and imparts some stain resistance.

Pigmented Leather is the most durable and is used in the majority of furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery. The durability is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments.

a-pack-of-leather-texturesThe surface coating allows the manufacturer more control over the properties of the leather, e.g. resistance to scuffing or fading.

Full Grain Pigmented Leather: The grain surface is left intact before applying the surface coating.

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.
(Indistinguishable from full grain pigmented leather to the naked eye)

Finished Split Leather: The middle or lower section of a hide with a polymer coating applied and embossed to mimic full grain leather. Finished splits should only be used in low stress applications because they are weaker than full grain leather.
(Indistinguishable from full grain pigmented leather to the naked eye)

Antique Grain (two-tone or rub-off) :A special surface effect has been created to mimic the unique ‘worn’ appearance of traditional leathers. This is achieved by applying a contrasting top-coat which is applied unevenly or partially rubbed off to reveal a paler underlying colour.waterproofing_leather

Pull-up Leather (also known as waxy or oily pull-up): A leather with a natural appearance which lightens in colour when stretched during wear to produce a unique worn-in effect with time.

Nubuck Aniline Dyed Leather which has been lightly abraded on the grain surface to create a velvety finish or 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.

Suede A Split which has been abraded 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.


Full grain refers to leather which has not been sanded or buffed.

Sanding or buffing removes surface imperfections from the leather, except in the case of nubuck where the buffing is very light.

Embossing is a process that heat presses an artificial grain pattern into the leather. If not sanded or buffed, these leathers are still considered to be full grain. This process is usually applied to pigmented leathers but can also be used on aniline and semi-aniline.

leather-genuineHOW TO TELL:

When it comes to identifying the type of leather you cannot beat proper training and experience, but with care and patience anyone can do it!

How does it feel for you? Aside from the appearance, how the leather feels and handles is a big clue to its type. Aniline leathers feel like real skin – light and flexible – whilst a heavily pigmented (protected) leather can feel rather like plastic.

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