All leather isn’t created equal. In fact, there are many different types of leather today and they aren’t all ‘real leather.’ Understanding which ones are real, which ones are the most durable, and which ones are worth your investment is extremely important when shopping for leather goods.
The truth is some types of leather are high quality and some types of leather are low quality. If you want leather that’s going to develop a rich patina, last you a long time, and feel natural to the touch, then you need to understand the difference between the many types of leather.
Two of the most popular types of leather available today include full-grain leather and top-grain leather. While they’re both quality leather that comes with amazing benefits, they differ in a wide variety of ways. Don’t worry, we’re going to break down those differences in more detail below!
What Is Full-Grain Leather?
Full-grain leather refers to the highest quality leather known to man. It’s made from the strongest and most durable part of the animal hide, which is found just below the animal hair. With that said, full-grain leather is made from the very top layer (the outermost layer) of the animal skin.
The top layer of the hide is called the grain, while the second layer is called the grain and corium junction. Full-grain leather utilizes both layers, but mostly the top layer. It hasn’t been sanded or buffed, allowing for more natural grain leather. Truth be told, full-grain leather is the real deal.
The reason so many people prefer full-grain leather is because this part of the hide is more tight, strong, breathable, and extremely durable. It provides a rich patina by revealing all the natural imperfections in the hide, including scars, insect bites, scratches, and other natural markings.
What Is Top-Grain Leather?
Top-grain leather isn’t as strong and durable as full-grain leather, but it’s often regarded as the second-best type of leather available today. In other words, it's good quality leather, but it’s not the highest quality leather.
While top-grain leather utilizes some parts of the top layer (grain), most of it is made out of the second layer (grain and corium junction) and third layer (corium). It won’t have as unique of an appearance and won’t have the same strength, but will contain a much more uniform finish.
The uniform finish comes from the top-grain leather being sanded or buffed, which requires removing most of the top layer. It’ll remove those imperfections and marks that make full-grain leather so appealing, but some people enjoy the smooth and perfect surface of top-grain leather.
Are There Other Types of Leather?
There are several different layers to animal hides, which is why there are so many different types of leathers to choose from. Every type of leather utilizes a different layer or combination of layers, which is why leather isn’t always created equal.
Full-grain leather (best option) gives you that natural grain pattern and fresh top surface, while top-grain leather (second-best option) gives you a sanded and buffed grain pattern with a more pristine look. Let’s unveil some of the other leathers and grain patterns you can find today:
- Genuine Leather - although genuine leather is made of real leather, it’s normally made of the leftover parts of the animal hides after full-grain and leather-grain leather products are made. This type of leather is usually the lowest-quality leather, so it’s usually cheap.
- Split-Grain Leather - also known as split leather, this type of leather is generally used to produce suede. It’s normally made out of the second and third layers of the animal hide, also known as the grain and corium junction and the corium (before you get to the flesh).
- Corrected-Grain Leather - also known as corrected leather, this leather is sanded, buffed, embossed, and corrected. It’s made of any leather that isn’t quite good enough or doesn’t meet the standard for full-grain or top-grain leather. It’s not the best, but it’s okay.
Leather can be made of a wide variety of different animal hides, including cowhide, buffalo, sheep, pigs, lamb, deer, elk, snakeskin, crocodiles, alligators, and more. Either way, the type of grain each leather is will depend on the layer of hide that’s being utilized, as described above.
Which Type of Leather Is Best?
Overall, full-grain leather is the best type of leather. It’s the highest-quality leather that’s known for its natural appearance, durability, strength, breathability, and comfortability. With that said, full-grain leather does come at a higher price when compared to the other types of leather.
Top-grain leather is going to be the second-best option when shopping for a leather product that’s built to last. It won’t be as strong or durable as full-grain leather but will come with a much more perfected and pristine look. This is because it does away with natural imperfections.
Behind top-grain leather, it’s a free-for-all. None of the other leathers will come close to the strength, durability, and feel of full-grain and top-grain leather. They’ll be much cheaper and will be great for those on a budget, but don’t expect to get the full leather experience with them.
Why Trust Black Brook Case With Leather Goods?
At Black Brook Case, we’re only interested in selling the highest-quality leather products to our customers. There’s nothing we love more than quality leather that’s built for long-term use. That’s why all of our leather goods are handmade with the finest craftsmanship and passion.
We only use full-grain leather when making our leather products. Whether you’re searching for a leather bag, iphone cases, tablet cases, AirPods cases, leather office accessories, shoes, belts, or more -- we’ve got quality leather that you can get behind. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re interested in adding a little bit of leather to your day-to-day lifestyle, check out our wide selection of full-grain leather goods in our online shop today. For select products, you can even get your leather personalized with monogramming or laser engraving -- how awesome is that?
Contact us today if you have any questions or would like to get started with your first order!