Leather can be complex and understanding different layers, grains, and types of leather can be tricky and sometimes confusing. Those who are only interested in just grabbing a fashionable leather outfit without having to figure out the types of leather can just skip this article but those who are true leather enthusiasts and like to know what they’re getting in return for their money should sit back and read this article.
In order to know all about your super cool, luxurious leather jacket or bag, it’s important to break down the leather into multiple sections. As we’re all aware that leather comes from animal hide which has many layers. These layers have been named as per their texture, thickness, and some other factors. The process of dividing animal skin into multiple layers over the entire surface is called splitting. Cowhide leather, being the thickest one among all others is 5 to 10 millimeters thick, is the split. Don’t get confused if you hear the word Bovine, it’s just another term used for split leather. The other layers are known as grain split, top-grain split, and flesh split.
What Is Split-grain Leather?
The uppermost layer of the hide that is visible to us and on the basis of which we decide whether to buy a certain product or not, is called the Grain. It carries the hair follicles that are aimed to protect the animal from abrasions and dryness in extreme weather conditions. The fibers in this layer of the skin are tightly knit to provide an extremely resilient surface as it is exposed to the outside environment. Grain leather is naturally water repellent as well.
Grain leather is more expensive than split or bovine leather because of its appearance. Because of its aesthetically appealing characteristics, grain leather is used in the making of commercial goods like jackets, purses, and shoes.
Splitting Machine or Splitter
Animal hides have a great thickness, especially cowhide. The bigger the animal, the thicker the hide would be. Hence it can actually be split into two layers that can be turned into useable leather accessories. The whole process is complex and demands utmost expertise along with high-end machinery. Splitting is done while the hides are still wet therefore you need to be cautious. The water content can cause serious issues and damage the hide beyond repair as it can make the hide thicker in places, so the splitter is adjusted while taking this into account. It helps to peel the hide from top to the bottom, giving two full, thinner pieces. The layer with the Grain becomes the ‘full-grain leather’ and the other becomes the Split.
Is Split Grain Leather Durable?
Split leather is coated with a colored layer and embossed for commercial use to make it look more like a normal top grain leather. The quality is not as good as you’d like because the fiber structure of split leather is not as strong as top grain leather. Although it can be sanded down and embossed with a graining pattern using modern techniques and methods to imitate natural leather, most leather manufacturers do not use split leather for clothing products. Split leather sure does have other uses but because of its quality, it is much weaker and less durable.
What Is The Difference Between Top Grain Leather And Split Leather?
The second layer under the full-grain is top grain leather and is often known as embossed corrected grain leather. Although it is of good quality, however, it does not match the durability and charm of full grain leather. An artificial grain is applied to the surface of top grain leather to give it a more natural feel and appearance. It’s sanded and buffed to take away imperfections and expose the more uniform finish.
Because of the dense fibers and how they are locked together, split leather has high abrasion resistance. It might not be as durable as the top grain but has good flexibility compared to the grain leather.