If you’re new to the world of leather, it can seem somewhat daunting to figure out what you should be looking for. With leather, there are many variables, it isn’t just a one size fits all material. Firstly, and likely most crucially, every single animal hide is different, you will never find two that are the same.
Then there are different tanning and treatment processes, as well as differing processes for adding colour and achieving the intended finish of the leather. All with their intricacies that allow the animal hide to become the leather product that you desire. It’s also worth noting that there are the alternatives such as faux leather, which you should know to spot to ensure you’re getting or receiving the real deal.
The cut of the leather is what massively influences the quality of leather goods and accessories. At the top of the list are full-grain and top-grain leather. Each is equipped with its distinct characteristics that allow them to stand out from other cuts of leather.
What is Full-Grain Leather?
Full grain leather is cut specifically from the top of the hide. It is the full, unadulterated hide in its natural form. All of the hide’s original oil-absorbing properties and characteristics remain intact after the tanning process. Only the hairs will be removed from the hide intended for full-grain leather, any imperfections or irregularities will not be removed to keep it as natural as possible.
Given that full grain leather maintains the natural properties of the animal hide, it is often regarded as the best cut of leather available. It is considered a luxury material which exudes strength, beauty, and character. It’s extremely durable and develops a rich patina with use so that the leather becomes even more elegant as it is used.
What is Top-Grain Leather?
Top-grain leather is also cut specifically from the top of the animal hide. The main difference from full grain leather is that it undergoes a process of sanding to remove any natural imperfections and blemishes present in the hide. Tanners essentially sand down the top layer of top-grain leather to remove any irregularities such as blemishes or scars so that it becomes more visually appealing. As a result of this, top-grain leather is often used for items where a pristine look is desired.
The simplest way to put it is that top-grain leather is a sanded-down version of full-grain leather. The sanding process does make top-grain slightly less water-resistant compared to full-grain leather; however, this does allow the leather to achieve a luxurious softness and appearance, making it an excellent choice for TORRO leather accessories.
Full-Grain vs Top-Grain
Out of all possible cuts of leather, the full and top grain is the most similar. There are a lot of commonalities between the two, namely that both are cut from the topmost part of the animal hide and will develop a beautiful patina over time.
With full-grain leather, the hide remains the same from when it is cut until it is tanned, this means it maintains all its natural properties and imperfections. Top-grain leather has these imperfections removed, through sanding resulting in it being slightly thinner but more uniform given that said imperfections and irregularities are removed.
Given how closely related full and top grain are to each other, it’s likely in most cases that both types of leather could come from the same cut of animal hide.
Taking Care of Your Leather
As with all types of leather, top-grain and full-grain leathers require care and treatment to maintain their qualities and characteristics. If you’re the proud owner of a TORRO leather accessory, then our leather care kit is ideal for this. Alternatively, read more about the do’s and don’ts of leather care.