Embossed Leather: Embossed leather is leather with artificial patterns imprinted on the natural grain of animal skin using heat and high pressure. Typically, steel plates with different engraved designs are used to create embossed leather for a variety of applications, including upholstery and accessories.
The most common types of embossing include blind embossing, gold embossing, and color imprint. While blind embossing involves imprinting patterns without any color, gold embossing includes using gold films for imprinting. Color imprint, on the other hand, uses color films for the embossment. Sometimes, the leather may also be bonded with foam and lining to allow the embossed patterns to retain their shape for longer.
Common Uses: Leather furniture, accessories such as bags and jackets, and upholstery.
Finished Split Leather: Split leather is a single layer of leather separated from the animal hide. Usually, the middle or lower section of the hide is used to produce split leather. When it is coated with a polymer and embossed to resemble natural leather-like look, it becomes finished split leather. You can also treat this type of leather with various embossing patterns and finishing touches. Finishing is required to get a surface resembling the finished full-grain leather.
However, it is almost always used in low-stress applications as finished split leather is considerably weaker than grain leather. It is also virtually impossible for the naked eye to differentiate between full grain pigmented leather and finished split leather.
Common Uses: Leather accessories and furniture.
Nappa Leather: “Nappa” is a generic name for soft, dyed leather usually used in advertising. There is no distinct test to characterize nappa leather.
Nubuck Leather: Aniline dyed leather is typically used to produce nubuck leather, which comes from the top grain of the hide. It is sanded on the grain side to create a velvety appearance. This velvety appearance and feel often attract shoppers into buying nubuck leather products.
The buffing or sanding removes the visible markings and defects in the top grain. Staining or dying further removes the defects left after buffing. Being made from top-grain leather, nubuck is more durable compared to suede or bonded leather. However, it is susceptible to environmental factors such as mud, dirt, and grit. That’s why nubuck shoes are suited for trekking and other outdoor activities.
Common Uses: Shoes, jackets, wallets, handbags, travel bags, briefcases, and furniture, among other leather items.
Oil Tanned Leather: Producing oil-tanned leather involves processing it with natural oils after the initial vegetable tanning is complete. Most tanneries use fish oil, particularly cod oil, for the tanning process. The purpose is to create a remarkably smooth and flexible finish. These qualities enhance its workability making oil-tanned leather more suitable for textured leather products.
The oil treatment also lends higher water and moisture resistance. It can also fend of scuff marks or minor scratches quickly, a feature all outdoor leather products must have. But most importantly, oil-tanned leather is revered for its beauty. It is available in a variety of stunning colors and finishes. It also develops a gorgeous patina over time.
Common Uses: Outdoor leather gear such as shoes, jackets, bags, and coats, among others.
Pigmented Leather: To create pigmented leather, a polymer surface coating containing pigments is applied to create the desired look and properties. It is rarely good-quality as a layer of colored polyurethane and varnish often alters the qualities of the hide.
Pigmented leather has uniform surface and color without any inherent defects of the animal skin. It is extremely durable and requires less maintenance. It also offers high resistance against scratches and stains.
Sometimes, however, over-coating can lend it plastic-like an appearance. The pigmentation also reduces its breathability. Due to its durability and low maintenance, pigmented leather is often regarded as the best leather for furniture, especially in the affordable price range.
Common Uses: Furniture, accessories, and car upholstery.
Semi-Aniline Leather: Generally, high-quality hides are used to create semi-aniline leather with a thin layer of protection (polyurethane) to retain the natural aesthetics. The base surface coating has a small amount of pigment while other coats have only dye. Thus, semi-aniline leather is stronger compared to the aniline leather, but maintains its natural look. It also exhibits stain resistance to some extent.
Common Uses: Primarily to make upholstery and furniture.
Suede: Suede is one of the most popular leather types with a napped finish. Made from the underside of the animal hide such as lamb, goat, calf, pig, and deer, it comes with an attractive finish. As it is thinner and less durable, suede is also vulnerable to damage. It is one of the best grades of leather revered for its look and feel, not durability.
Common Uses: It is used to make jackets, shoes, shirts, purses, curtains, gloves, and furniture.
Common Uses: Insides, interiors, and linings.