Go Back



The Differences of Leather

Many customers are confused with the various titles of leather. Top Grain Leather, Split Leather, Genuine Leather, Full Grain Leather, etc. So what exactly is the difference between these leathers and does it matter when selecting leather upholstery? I can tell you shortly, it matters!


Leather is the general term for all hides and skins that have been tanned. This explains the various price points between “All Leather” recliners, sofas and chairs. You must look deeper to understand what type of leather you are purchasing.


After a hide is tanned, it goes through a splitting machine consisting of a large wire cutter. The thickness of these splits depend on the end use of the leather; thin slices for clothing and thicker for upholstery. The top portion of these hides are called “Top Grain.” The second cut or underside is called the “Split” or “Crust” and the third cut, if there is a third cut, is also called a split. Splits are processed as suede and also processed with chemicals and corrected grain plating to make it look like top grain. These splits offer the consumer lower priced leather goods.


Leather is a fibrous material which allows for breathability and strength. The fibers are very strong on the grain side (top side) and weaken as you get deeper into the hide. Most splits are used for shoes, apparel or lower quality leather upholstery. This split leather is not as durable, resistant or as flexible as top grain leathers.


At Southern Creek Rustic Furnishings, we mainly carry top grain leathers because of its strength and overall comfort. Top grain leathers adjust to body temperature. This is why you will never feel sticky or cold on top grain leather. The opposite is true for vinyl and split leathers, as experienced with most leather car seats.

I hope this clears up the differences between leathers. If you are shopping around for leather upholstery, don’t be fooled by a marketing advertisement promoting “All Leather Recliners.” Ask the sales associate what type of leather this consists of and make sure you get a straight answer. If you are looking for the most comfortable and longest lasting leather upholstery, don’t settle for anything less than top grain leather.



Very informative article. Thanks for clearing things up.

Great posting.

Leave a Comment