Know Your Leather: 5 Types Of Leather Grades In Furniture


When you are furniture shopping, you will probably pay attention to the material of the furniture pieces you are browsing. After all, you would likely have your own inner interior designer fantasy when styling your home, and you will like to ensure you purchase a high-quality piece of furniture that matches your design choice. Moreover, the material will provide you with some information as to the quality of the furniture piece.

However, specific materials, such as leather, have different grading systems. Therefore, if you are on the lookout for a leather sofa, it is crucial for you to understand how leather is graded and what each grading system represents.  Let us share what you need to know before you make your purchasing decision.

A brief overview of leather

Leather is derived from animal skins, typically cattle hides, and is produced via tanning processes. Depending on where the hide is obtained from and the specific tanning process used, the resulting leather's look, feel, and durability can vary greatly. All of these factors have thus resulted in a diverse class of leather grades. Here are the five types of leather grades used in the furniture industry.

The 5 types of leather grades

1. Full-grain

Full-grain leather is considered the highest grade of leather. Furniture pieces that utilize full-grain leather carry an expensive price tag, and the premium cost makes sense. This is because full-grain leather is the purest leather one can buy.

This material is derived from the topmost layer of an animal's hide. It generally requires no additional processing save for the complete removal of the animal's hair and soaking it in natural dyes. It is essentially considered untreated leather since it does not undergo additional processes, such as sanding or buffing. The omission of these processes allows the full-grain leather to retain its natural textures, markings, and fibers.

2. Top-grain

Like full-grain leather, top-grain leather is obtained from the top layer of an animal’s hide. However, the similarity ends there as top-grain leather is usually subjected to additional processing like light buffing and sanding. These processes aid in removing noticeable imperfections in the material and smoothing out the grain, refining its overall appearance.

This refinement process results in top-grain leather having a subtler and more uniform surface texture with improved stain resistance. It is also more pliable, making the material easier to work with during the manufacturing process. As a result, furniture pieces made from top-grain leather typically come with more hues and design options. Top-grain leather is a favorite among many homeowners, thanks to its durability and comfort.

3. Genuine (Corrected)

Unlike full-grain and top-grain leather, genuine leather can be obtained from any layer of the animal's hide. These collected hides generally contain more flaws, so they have to undergo further treatment to ensure a more uniform appearance. Furthermore, they can be sanded or buffed to remove any additional imperfections. Afterwards, they are then embossed to provide them with their final surface appearance.

Due to these multiple processes, genuine leather is less supple and breathable compared to the other uncorrected grains, as the treatment has altered some of the desirable qualities of full-grain and top-grain leather. As such, genuine leather is much cheaper in comparison. However, they remain as durable as top-grain leather, making them an appealing choice amongst budget-conscious buyers. 

4. Split-grain

Split-grain leather is a layered cut of leather derived from the fibrous portion of the hide after the top layer is separated from it. It usually possesses a nappy look, and it can be processed to mimic the appearance of top-grain leather.

However, the natural surface of split-grain leather is not as tight and dense as top-grain leather. As such, it is often used in other leather finishes that are embossed and colored. It also makes for an excellent cost-saving alternative to higher-grade leathers. It is often used in conjunction with the higher-grade leathers, with split-grain leather often utilized on the back and sides of leather sofas, while higher-quality leather is used for the seating area.

5. Bonded

Bonded leather, often referred to as reconstituted leather, is made out of authentic leather scraps and fibers. These scraps are shredded and mixed with other materials, such as latex or polyurethane, onto a fiber mesh. Afterwards, they are coated with sealants and stamped to replicate the appearance of real grain patterns. The appeal of bonded leather does not come from its appearance or durability but from its role in significantly reducing leather wastage, which may appeal to environmentally conscious homeowners.


Now that you have a better understanding of the different leather gradings, you will likely have your desired leather type in mind. If you have any queries, speak to a salesperson, who will possess the necessary knowledge to guide you in your purchase. Knowing which leather furniture best suits your budget and requirements are ideal to avoid buyer's remorse.

At Finn Avenue, we have an extensive range of products to meet your furnishing needs. If you are looking to invest in a quality leather sofa set, then check out our online furniture sale or head down to our physical showroom to experience our products first-hand! Our sales team will be delighted to assist you with any queries you may have.

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