Types of Leather Used to Make Fine Furniture

Oct 05 2018

Why is proper cleaning, revitalizing, and protecting leather so important? It’s important because the leather in your home is an expensive investment in style and comfort. If properly cared for, the life of your leather pieces can span generations. The most important step in the revival process is identifying the type of leather that was used to craft your furniture so the correct process and materials can be used to achieve lasting beauty. Here are the types and characteristics of the different leathers:


This type of leather is very soft and “buttery” to the hand. It is leather usually made from the finest hides and it is only dyed and the finish is left natural or pure. Furniture made from aniline leather is very comfortable and breathable. Aniline pieces are very susceptible to fading and staining. This leather will also absorb lotion and oils from the body.


Nubuck can also be called reverse suede or distressed. Nubuck is aniline leather that has had the grain surface sanded or buffed to create a velvet-like texture. This type of leather can be confused with suede and many man-made fabrics try to emulate nubuck. Nubuck creates the softest leather furniture and is the most challenging to keep clean. It is also very susceptible to fading, staining and absorbing lotion and body oils.

Suede and Reverse Suede

Suede is actually not a type of leather but a leather finish. The surface of split leather, or the fleshing side of grain leather, is roughened to create a nap that creates the suede finish on the leather. Because it’s usually only dyed , and not protected, suede soils and stains easily and is difficult to clean.

Protected, Pigmented, Semi-Aniline

These types of leather are similar in that they are aniline leathers that have had a topcoat or finish applied to the top grain of the leather. This finish gives color and protection to the leather that aids in water repellency and cleanability. Furniture made from this common type of leather feels slick to the hand and sometimes has a varying or antiquing color.

Pull-up Leather including Wax and Oil

These leathers are aniline or nubuck leathers that have had wax or oil, or both, impregnated through the leather that essentially creates a finishing special effect. Special care is required when cleaning leather this these finishes.

Top Grain/Full Grain/Split Grain

During the manufacturing process, hides are cut into layers that include the top grain, which is the top layer that includes the natural grain of the hide and is sometimes referred to a full grain. Split grain is one of the layers of the hide below the top grain the can be surfaced and used in furniture.


Embossing is another type of leather finish which uses a process of imprinting a pattern into the leather surface. The pattern could be any design including a grain pattern to look like natural top grain. Furniture made using embossed leather usually cleans similar to protected leather.

Saddle Leather

Saddle leather is made from whole cowhide that is tanned with vegetable tannin. It is smooth and durable and usually left a natural color. This type of leather can be cleaned more aggressively.

Feel free to give us a call and we can help you identify and revitalize your fine leather furniture.

(224) 250-1156

Fine Decor Revival

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