Leather 101

By Sklar Furnishings

How To Guides & Product Care

January 7, 2015

Who knew that something so natural and versatile could have so many facets to it? Let us take you through the A-Z of leathers to help you find the hide that looks and feels exactly as you’d want.

Leather Glossary

ANTIQUED FINISH: Leather finish made by hand rubbing leather with a dark dye after a lighter base coat has had time to dry creating dramatic effects.

BONDED LEATHER: A composite material that consists of leather pieces held together on a strong fabric backing with a pigmented, embossed polyurethane coating to give a grain patterned effect.

COATED SPLIT: The lower layers that are ‘split off’ of the top grain layer of a hide can be dyed, finished and embossed. Since it is less expensive and stiffer, it is often used to cover upholstered sides and backs that don’t need to flex and stretch much.

CORRECTED GRAIN: Top grain leather that has been buffed and sanded to minimize surface marks, then covered with pigment finish layers and embossed.

DRUM DYED: A dying process accomplished by tumbling leather in a rotating drum to encourage the dye to be fully absorbed.

DYED TO SHADE (MILL DYED): A finishing system that produces essentially the same color on the suede side as the side on which the pigmented finish is applied.

EMBOSS: Mechanical imprinting to create unique grain effects under heat or high pressure in order to smooth the grain or give unique patterned effect (snake, alligator, lizard, etc.)

FALSE ANILINE FINISH: Leather that’s fully coated with layers of pigment finish that provide antique or tonal effects meant to simulate true aniline finished leathers.

MINERAL TANNED: Leathers tanned with any of several mineral substances, typically the salts of chromium, aluminum and zirconium.

MOTILED FINISH: The result of blending closely related colors to achieve a spotty or splotchy appearance.

NATURAL MARKINGS: The subtle markings on leather are similar to fingerprints. They distinguish genuine leather from man-made materials.

NU-BUK LEATHER: Nu-Buks are top grain leathers that are more durable than suede, made from the split flesh side of the hide. Nu-Buk leather should be maintained by occasionally fluffing the fibers vigorously with a suede brush. A damp white cloth can be used to clean spills, which can then be blotted dry. Specialized cleaners are available – soaps should be avoided.

PLATING: The process which smoothes the finished surface of leather or produces embossed surface effects.

PROTECTED ANILINE: Protected aniline leather is less expensive and more common than pure aniline or semi-aniline leather. Its coloration is more consistent because it has been coated with protective pigments. The leather’s natural markings are less noticeable. These protected leathers are more heavily pigmented than semi-aniline leather and are actually easier to clean than pure aniline leather because surface pigments repel water and stains standing up well to heavy use.

PULL-UP: Aniline dyed leather with an oiled or waxed finish that is pulled tight during the upholstering process, developing areas that become lighter as they are stretched. This result is known as pull-up.

PURE ANILINE: Leather that is aniline dyed but has not been coated with pigmented finishes. It shows all the natural character and markings.

SAUVAGE: A two-tone effect that adds depth to the leather.

SEMI-ANILINE DYED: Term use to describe dyed leather that contains only a small amount clear or pigmented finish. It is a premium product which allowing the natural character of the leather to show through.

SUEDE: Leather finished by buffing with an emery wheel to produce a napped surface. Suede is made from layers split off from the top grain portion of the hide.

SUEDED PIGSKIN: Suede pigskins are available in garment weight and upholstery weight. The upholstery weight is probably the most durable suede on the market.

TANNING: A chemical process that converts a raw hide into a stable product. This process is often accomplished in large vats or drums.

WAX FINISH: Full aniline leather treated with a wax or oil finish that can give it a worn look. See Pull Up.

WELTING: Cord wrapped in fabric used to trim upholstery seams and places where the fabric meets exposed wood.

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