Leather can be made from the skin of any animal but in the furniture, auto, handbag and garment industry we are generally dealing with cows, sheep, goat, and pigs.
There are many different leather types but the main ones that you will hear mentioned are:
- Aniline (including Pull up leathers)
- Pigmented (protected, finished, coated)
- Nubuck or Suede
This is the most natural looking of all leathers.
There will be natural markings visible.
It will be less resistant to soiling as there is little surface finishing.
Aniline leather is coloured with aniline dye and does not have a surface coating of polymer or pigment but may have a light coating of finish which will make it slightly more resistant to stains and soiling.
Aniline leather is subject to fading.
Pull Up Leather are often referred to as Oily or Waxy Pull Ups which denotes the type of finish that has been used.
- Warm to the touch
- High quality leather
- Natural looking
- Hard wearing
- Stains easily unless protected with Leather Shield protector.
Usually has a light surface coating of pigment or finish making it more durable.
This leather is more durable than Aniline leather but will still retain a more natural appearance.
The light surface coating of pigment and finish makes the leather slightly more durable than Aniline leather and provides some stain resistance.
The surface coating provides a more even colour but natural markings may still be visible.
The term Semi Aniline is widely misused in the furniture industry so should be used with caution.
Pigment Coated (protected, pigmented) leather
Has a polymer coating on the surface which masks all the natural markings.
Pigment Coated Leather can be the most durable of all leathers if looked after correctly.
It is used for a large percentage of furniture upholstery and nearly all car upholstery.
The surface coating contains pigments and finish which give the leather its durability and more resistance to staining but may be more easily scuffed.
Nubuck Leather is an aniline dyed leather that has been buffed on the top grain surface of the leather to create a nap with a soft velvety feel.
Very absorbent due to the open nature of the grain.
Bicast is created from Split Leather which has a polyurethane coating bonded to the top surface.
In the UK and New Zealand it cannot be sold as leather and has to be labelled Bicast Leather or Laminated Leather.
The difference between Bicast and a Coated Leather is that the laminate coating is more than 30% of the overall thickness of the leather.
- Consistent colour and sheen
- Has a certain strength
- Does not fade and resistant to UV light
- Does not look natural
- Has a tendency to go ‘sticky’ when the laminate surface is affected by body oils
‘Hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact… If the tanned hide is disintegrated mechanically and/or chemically into fibrous particles, mall pieces or powders and then, with or without a binding agent is made into sheets, such sheets are not leather’
Bonded leather is made from the ground up particles that have been removed from the leather during the Tanning process.
The particles are made into a backing mesh to which other coatings are then added.
Bonded leather is not leather.
- Cheap to produce
- Produced on a roll so can be produced in varies widths
- Great cutting area
- Not as flexible as leather
- Does not have the same durability
- Poor strength
- Looks like imitation so can have a cheap appearance