In this article we will learn about what full grain leather is, how it is made, what kind of products it is used in, and how to care for this type of leather. We will also look at the advantages and disadvantages of full-grain leather and discuss similar leathers.
What is Full Grain Leather?
Full-grain leather is the toughest kind of leather and has the most character. It’s the entire hide of the animal once the hair is removed and the material is tanned.
How Full Grain Leather is Made
Full-grain leather is made from the whole hide of the animal, whether it is cow leather, kangaroo, or any other animal. The hide of an animal is strongest and most durable just below the hair. Once the hair is removed during processing, the natural grain pattern is visible. The leather made with this part of the hide is called full-grain leather, and because the grain is tighter at this layer, it resists moisture very well. Full-grain leather incorporates the entire grain of the hide with all the imperfections and inherent toughness of the material. Other types of leather use only some layers of the hide.
The properties of full-grain leather are derived from the skin of the animal it comes from. Because it is not trimmed or shaved to remove imperfections or make it thinner, it displays any scratches, imperfections or damage on the animal’s hide while it was alive. Full-grain leather is usually hard and tough since it is thicker than other leathers like top-grain. It is harder to work with as well, resulting in the higher cost of the end product. Full-grain leather looks better with time as it absorbs oils and develops a patina from being handled.
All full-grain leather will be marked with the scratches and imperfections that result from wear and tear from the animal’s activity, like insect bites and rubbing against a fence. The high-end manufacturers do not use hides with obvious defects, but even the best quality hides will have minor imperfections. These imperfections add to the individuality of each leather product and are an indicator that it is genuine full-grain leather. The leather’s appearance will tell the story of the animal it is from, by tracing the history through the marks and blemishes that each event has left upon it.
Products Full-grain Leather Is Commonly Used For
While full-grain leather is widely used in manufacturing heavy-duty items such as weapon holsters and utility belts, it is also used for furniture, dress shoes, work boots, dress belts, briefcases, duffel bags, wallets and many others. The durability and toughness of this leather make it suitable for goods that see heavy and rough use and require long-lasting performance.
Advantages of Full-grain Leather
The properties of full-grain leather which make it so valuable include the natural beauty of the animal hide that shows every scratch and defect. Being tough and hardy, full-grain leather is ideal for elegant furniture and bags that will last for many years. It will develop a rich patina as it ages, lending it a beauty that is much sought after by aficionados.
Disadvantages of Full-grain Leather
Full grain leather is more costly than other kinds of leather. It is harder for craftsmen to work with, making it more expensive to produce. The hardness of the full-grain leather makes is unsuitable for products requiring supple and flexible leather. It is not as resistant to stains as some other leathers. Because of the natural defects and surface distortions on the animal hide, it is not very consistent.
How to Care for Full-grain Leather
In order to maintain your full-grain leather product so it will last many years without damage, you should care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some tips to keep in mind when caring for full-grain leather are that minor scuffs can be removed from oiled full-grain leather by rubbing the area with a moistened finger. A damp cloth can be used for wiping areas which require more intensive cleaning.
As with any leather product, never use heat to dry the item if it gets wet, as drying it too fast can lead to cracking. Instead, allow it to dry at room temperature. After it dries, applying conditioner or another appropriate leather care protect will keep the leather clean and prevent overdrying.
Top-grain leather is also made from animal hides, but the difference in manufacturing methods is that the top layer is removed by sanding and buffing to remove imperfections. This results in a more uniform finish, but the leather is less durable than full-grain. While it looks more consistent than full-grain, it is not as high quality or as strong. Often the animal hides are stamped with patterns resembling ostrich snake or alligator skin after removing the top layer of the hide. This is referred to as corrected-grain leather. Like full-grain, top-grain leather is also used for luxury goods.
While full-grain leather is more expensive than top grain leather or split leather, it is the highest quality leather that you can buy. It is functional and beautiful and provides great value for money due to its durability. If you’re looking for a product which will last you a lifetime and look better with each passing year, this is the type of leather you should select.