A basic guide to leather terminology - from top grains to nubucks.

Don't buy leather furniture without knowing what you are paying for, and how to take care of it. Find out what the labels that come with your leather furniture mean.

(design: Linear Space Concept)

SPLIT: All hides must be split because of their thickness. The bottom hide is known as the split layer and is used on the sides and backs of your leather furniture.

TOP GRAIN: Once split, the top layer is known as the top grain. This is used in the areas that receive more wear because the fibres of the top grain are tighter and hence more durable. 

FULL GRAIN: This is the layer of the top grain that is only coloured, and not corrected or cosmetically altered in any way. It typically costs more.

NUBUCK: With a suede-like texture, it is very high in quality and hard to maintain, and considered one of the most luxurious.

CORRECTED: This is top grain leather that has been cosmetically altered to reduce visual imperfections. Its surface is then mechanically stamped (embossed) with an engraving plate to give it a "natural" look. These are less expensive but extremely stiff to the touch. 

(design: IPO Design)

GRADES: Simply determined from the origin of the hide itself. The hides of animals from the Northern Hemisphere are more highly graded than their counterparts from the Southern side.

PULL-UP: This is colour-dyed leather that has been waxed or oiled. When the leather is pulled, the oil and wax separates, causing the colour to lighten.

PURE ANILINE: The leather has been coloured through the entire thickness of the hide using a colouring agent called aniline. These are generally the softest and most expensive leathers and do not have a protective polyurethane surface coat.

SEMI-ANILINE: This variety has also been coloured through its entire thickness with aniline, but it has a protective polyurethane coat.