Aside from the fact that genuine leather is the third kind of real leather based on type. It is available in several different ‘finishes’ resulting in different looks and feel that may throw you off, mistaking it for fake leather. Aniline and Semi Aniline, Waxed or Oil, Fully Pigmented Finish, Antique Finish or Wyper Finish, Full Grain Finish and Corrected Grain Finish to name a few common types. All these have dissimilar appearances, whether a difference in grain or texture and also feel different regardless of them possibly being 100% genuine. Also, each of these types are used in specific areas of living based on their treatment and end finish. Read on to find out more.
Also known as unfinished leather, Aniline is one of the most natural looking leathers that is treated with a clear Aniline dye and wax finish that enable the surface to maintain its original hide characteristics. From original grain to wrinkle, scar or any element of the animal’s hide, is clearly visible. Aniline is not resistant to soiling or spilling of any kind. So testing this kind of leather is really simple. All you have to do is choose a small area that is not that visible in clear view, (perhaps a corner of an Aniline sofa) and take a wet finger and press firmly into the leather for at least 15 seconds. If the area darkens or changes colour tone that means it’s unfinished or Aniline leather, if not; that means it’s either Semi Aniline or Top Finished Leather.
Semi Aniline Leather
This is a durable alternative to Aniline Leather. Semi Aniline Leather retains its natural appearance while still being durable. This is due to the use of a very light application to the surface with a coating containing a small amount of pigment which in turn enables some resistance to staining or spilling while ensuring consistent colour. Waxed oil leather falls into this category which has heated oils and waxes rolled into the surface.
Top Finished Leather
One of the most serviceable of the three types of leather finishes is the Top Finished Leather that has a pigmented colour over the surface and is finished with a clear sealer. This type of finished leather is used in majority of furniture, cars and boats.
Three basic types fall under the category of Pigmented Leathers. These are briefly defined below.
Fully Pigmented Leather
Consisting of several coats of colour and sealer, this is one of three types of leather finishes that is most durable but has the least natural appearance. Mainly due to the Polymer coating which contains pigments that is applied to the grain surface that has been left intact, this type is extremely popular.
Simply put, Antique Leather finish is achieved through the application of several coats of base colours. A fine coat of a darker tone to the base colour is then applied to give a dual or multi-toned effect. A sealer coat completes the process.
Wyper Finish Leather
The Wyper process is similar to the Antique finish except the darker tone is wiped off using a particular solvent. This allows the darker colour to set in the grain. Again, a clear sealer completes the process.
Waxed or oiled leather have a coloured wax or oil finish which is typically used for shoes and bags. Although furniture too may have this kind of leather. Certain waxed leather maintains its natural grain which may have a fine or coarse surface that is either shiny or matte. Most newly oiled or waxed leather are porous which mean any contact with fluid leads to staining which is impossible to remove. In such cases, water-lock waterproofing is the first choice for protection. Remember! Waxed leather does have traces of patina over a short time-frame which is basically a desired effect for this type of leather. You will notice, even a tiny scratch with a fingernail will lead to slight lines that can be polished if needed with a soft dry cloth.
Resources: Allaboutleather, Wikipedia, Josephlyddy, Businessinsider, Colourlock and Leatherhelp