About Our Leathers

Learn about our leathers and how to tell the difference between them

Leathers offered by Classic Leather are all top-grain. During the tanning process each hide is separated into sections. The top section (top-grain) is the most valuable part of the hide, with exceptional strength and durability. The sections underneath are not suitable for leather upholstery and often are referred to as “splits”, meaning they are split from the top-grain section.
Classic Leather never uses splits on any part of our upholstered furniture.
After the tanning process the hides are separated into different categories based on the amount of abrasion, scars, brands and other natural markings. The best hides are used to produce full aniline leather, which on average is only about three percent. Hides with minor imperfections are used to produce semi-aniline (natural) leather. Hides with more imperfections are used to produce corrected grain leather.

Leather is truly unique upholstery material. Every hide is a canvas with Mother Nature’s signature on it, and each piece of furniture will have its own character due to the individuality of the hides and their natural markings.

Below are some of the more common markings that can be found in leather:
I. Brands
II. Healed scars and scratches
III. Insect bite marks
IV. Fat wrinkles (typically in the neck and shoulder area of a hide)

I Brands

I Brands

II Scars

II Scars

III Wrinkles

IV Fat Wrinkles


Full Aniline Leather (Natural) View Gallery Here
This leather gets its name from the aniline dyes that are used to produce it. Hides are soaked or tumbled with aniline dyes in large rotating stainless steel drums. The translucent dyes permeate the leather giving it color without covering up any natural markings or grain pattern. The process is much like applying a stain to a wooden surface. Hides dyed in this manor vary in intensity of color due to the amount of dye that is absorbed by each hide. In the final milling process, the dyed hides are tumbled in large rotating drums to soften the hand or feel of the leather. Heat may also be added during the milling process to enhance the grain. The result of this tanning process is exceptionally soft leather in its most natural state. Color pigments or protective top coats are never added to full aniline leather.

Due to the lack of these additional steps, the aging characteristics of full anilines are different than other types of leathers. They will absorb moisture, oils and other spills that over time will produce a rich patina, much like a well-worn bomber jacket. Sunlight will readily fade full aniline leather therefore exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided. Due to the natural characteristics of these leathers, Classic Leather cannot assume responsibility for their long term wearing qualities. *See our Natural Leather Policy.

Semi-Aniline Leather (Protected) View Gallery Here
The tanning process of semi-aniline and full aniline leathers begins in the same way. Semi-Anilines however, have the addition of color pigments applied to the surface followed by a clear finish. Therefore, these leathers are called semi-aniline.

After dying and milling, a pigment coat is sprayed or rolled onto the hide surface. The coating is very light and is generally just enough to produce a uniform surface color. The added color pigment helps to control shade variations from hide to hide and provides a greater degree of protection from fading. Finally, a top coat of synthetic, transparent resin is applied as a protective coating in either a high gloss or matte finish.

Corrected Grain Leather (Protected) This is the most prominent type of leather in today’s marketplace. There are distinct differences that separate corrected grains from full anilines and semi-anilines. Full anilines and semi-aniline leathers are full grain, meaning that no alterations have been made to the surface of the leather. Corrected Grains, as their name implies, have been altered. These hides are slightly corrected or buffed and lightly embossed giving the surface a uniform grain. They are then aniline dyed and color pigments are applied followed by a top
coat or finish.

Decorative Leathers View Gallery Here
Decorative leathers are used to create more unique looks and give expression and personalization to our living environments. They are most often used as accents on panels or in place of inside and/or outside backs, borders and bases on occasional and accent pieces. Certain other applications are possible, but do require custom pricing.
These leathers are created by embossing a pattern or motif onto either a full leather hide or half hide. Highly skilled craftspeople hand apply layers of dyes and stains, which is often followed by tipping or antiquing with a glaze.
Due to the handwork in the creation of our decorative leathers, not two hides will exactly alike and variation in color should be expected.