Let’s jump right into the subject without any delay. Top grain leather, apart from being common; is the second highest grade or quality of leather on the list. Contrary to its name, it is not the top or outermost section of the animal it has been taken from. This is mainly due to the top layer that is split away, leaving no visible scars, scrapes or marks that would be seen ordinarily.
This also makes it thinner and more flexible than full grain leather. It is strong and durable to an extent but does not age very nicely with use. The surface being sanded off and a finish coat added, contributes to the production of a colder, plastic feel with less breathability. It doesn’t develop a natural patina and is less expensive than full grain leather. On the upside, top grain has a greater stain resistance than its full grain counterpart provided the finish remains unbroken.
Full Grain Leather
What really ‘tops’ in quality is full grain leather. It is literally the highest grade or quality of leather out there. It is taken from the outermost section of the hide and goes through no sanding processes which enables it to maintain its natural look and feel. It is due to this factor that hide imperfections such as scars or marks from the animal from which it was taken, is still visible.
The only treatment it does go through is with transparent aniline dyes which does not hamper its appearance, quality or durability. This type of leather is considered to be the most sought after leather for its durability and character. The more full grain leather ages, the better it looks. Over time it develops an appealing patina that adds to its unique character that is not easily duplicated.
Interestingly, when the hide is split into layers, split leather is taken from the inner layer of the hide. It is more delicate than full grain leather and is very often used to make suede.
When comparing full grain leather (shown above right) to top grain leather, both can be good options but it all depends on what’s important to you. Top grain is not only less expensive but offers a higher stain resistance if the finish remains unbroken. However if you’re looking for something long-lasting and that will look good doing so, then full grain is the way to go.
Leather shavings can be found in cheap dog food. The bigger the pile of shavings the bigger the piles elsewhere.
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