Types Of Leather

How Can I Determine The Type Of Leather That I Have?

There are basically four different types of Leather used in the manufacture of upholstery, clothing and leather accessories. It is crucial that the identification of these various types of leather be determined prior to using any kind of maintenance or repair products. The use of improper chemicals or techniques may create extra work in correcting damage caused by the application of an improper product, and may even cause permanent, irreparable damage to the leather.

Protected Leather: Also known as “Top Grained”, “Coated”, “Finished”, “Protected” or “Pigmented”. These leathers are the

Protected Leather

Protected Leather

most durable and easiest to maintain. Protected Leather is made with a top coating, usually of polyurethane or silicone, that “seals” the leather and helps to prevent absorption of dirt, liquids and oils that would otherwise cause the leather to become stained or “dingy” looking. Protected Leather is best suited for high use areas while providing the rich, unique appeal of leather. Appearance: Smooth, grained finish. The grain pattern embossed into the surface of the leather will vary greatly depending upon the design of the leather. Grain pattern may be of a very small, lightly impressed pattern to a very distinct heavily embossed pattern. The finish will be of a “Matte” to “Semi-Gloss”. Identifying: Place a small droplet of water onto the surface of the leather. The droplet of water should “bead up” and remain on the surface of the leather. Maintenance & Repair Products: Regular Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner and Colors Coats designed for “Top Coated”/”Protected” Leather.

 

 

Semi-Aniline Leather: Also known as “Aniline”. These leathers are very attractive due to the rich look and feel of the leather

Semi Aniline Leather

Semi Aniline Leather

itself, but are much more difficult to maintain and keep looking good. There is no protective coating on Semi-Aniline leathers except that many retailers will apply a “Scotch Guard™” type repellent to protect the surface for a short time.  Exposure to liquids, oils and dirt will cause staining of the leather. A protective “sealant” material should be applied to Semi-Aniline type leathers to reduce the effects of this exposure. Semi-Aniline should be avoided when the application requires heavy use. Appearance: Semi-Aniline: Smooth,grained finish. The grain pattern embossed into the surface of the leather will look very much like “Protected” leather except that the Grain pattern may be a very small, lightly impressed pattern. Finish will be Matte to Semi-Gloss.  The grain pattern embossed into the surface of the leather will look very much like “Protected” leather except that the Grain pattern may be a much smaller, tighter, lightly impressed pattern. Finish will be Matte to Semi-Gloss. Identifying: Place a small droplet of water onto the surface of the leather. The droplet of water should sit on the surface for a short time and then soak into the leather and cause a darkening where it has been absorbed. Maintenance Products: NuBuck/Aniline Leather Cleaner, NuBuck Leather Conditioner to prevent staining of the leather. “Protected” Leather Color Coats and repair materials should be used on all Semi-Aniline Leathers for repairing and refinishing of Semi-Aniline Leather.

Full Aniline: Also known as “Suede”, “NuBuck”, “Full Aniline” or “Distressed”. These leathers are very attractive due to the

NuBuck Leather

NuBuck Leather

“brushed” finish that is found on most of these types of leather. These leathers are less difficult to maintain and keep looking good compared to Semi-Aniline leathers. There is no protective coating on Full-Aniline leathers except that many retailers will apply a “Scotch Guard™” type repellent to protect the surface for a short time. Exposure to liquids, oils and dirt will cause staining of the leather. A protective “sealant” material should be applied to Full-Aniline type leathers to reduce the effects of this exposure. Full Aniline leathers may be used in heavy traffic areas, but on a limited basis. Appearance: These leathers will have a highly “brushed” finish with a “Knapp” . Suede will have a much longer fiber makeup to the knapp than NuBuck. Identifying: Due to the “knapp” of the leather, identification may be done by rubbing the hand over the surface of the leather in a left/right motion. The surface color will lighten when brushed in one direction and darken when brushed in the reverse direction. Maintenance Products: NuBuck/ Aniline Leather Cleaner and NuBuck Leather Conditioner. The surface of the leather should be lightly brushed, using a medium soft bristle brush, such as a soft brass wire brush, to loosen any accumulated dirt, soiling and oils free from the surface fibers. Aniline Dyes should be used when refinishing or re-dyeing.

By-Cast Leather: These leathers are very similar, in most respects, to Protected leather . By-Cast is the most inexpensive form

By-Cast Leather

By-Cast Leather

of leather and is used in the upholstery of lower priced  furniture, jackets and clothing, purses and handbags and many other  leather items. By-Cast Leather is made from finely shredded leather scraps and mixed with an adhesive to form large sheets of a leather like material. By-Cast Leather is made with a top coating, usually silicone, that colors, “seals” and hides the underlying material and helps to prevent absorption of dirt, liquids and oils that would otherwise cause the leather to become stained or “dingy” looking. Appearance: Smooth, grained finish. The grain pattern embossed into the surface of the leather will vary greatly depending upon the design of the leather. Grain pattern may be of a very small, lightly impressed pattern to a very distinct heavily embossed pattern. The finish will be of a “Semi-Gloss” to “Glossy” finish. Identifying: Place a small droplet of water onto the surface of the leather. The droplet of water should “bead up” and remain on the surface of the leather. By-Cast leather will have a much stiffer, harder feel and will not bend or fold as easily as normal types of leather.  Peeling and flaking of the finish of By-Cast leather is extremely common. Maintenance Products: Regular Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner and Colors Coats and Repair Products designed for “Top Coated”/”Protected” Leather.

Pull-Up (Wax or Oil) (Manufacturer Code “PU”): Pull-Up leather is used primarily in furniture upholstery and minimally pull-up leatherused in jackets and clothing. This type of leather is relatively easy to maintain, and fairly durable with the exception of becoming scratched very easily. Appearance: It will appear to have a distinct “finished” look and somewhat heavier in feel than an unprotected or unfinished leather. Pull-Up will also always have a distinct “patterned” look which can be referred to as a “Two-Tone” effect.  However, this alone is not necessarily a distinguishing factor. Identifying: When a droplet of water is placed on the surface of this leather, the droplet will initially “bead up”on the surface.  If left alone for several minutes, the droplet may begin to be absorbed into the leather and cause a darkening of the spot but this may not always happen due to differences in manufacturing techniques.  A “sure-fire” way of determining this type of leather is to lightly scrape a finger nail over a small area. A light “scratch” ( much lighter in color) will appear.  This scratch may be easily removed by using Leather Conditioner designed for “Top Coated”/”Protected leather and rubbing over the area to replace the wax/oils that have been disturbed.  Maintenance Products: Regular Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner and Colors Coats and Repair Products designed for “Top Coated”/”Protected” Leather. Our Leather Protection Cream is especially beneficial for removing surface scratches in Pull-Up Leathers.