With so many different types of leather available for cars, furniture, and even clothing, bags and shoes, it's not easy to identify the difference between the leathers used.
Here's a very simple way to know what type of leather you have, focusing on car and furniture leathers.
Here's A Simple Chart To Make It Easy ...
To keep things really simple, I've divided leathers into 3 categories:
- Aniline, Nubuck or not sealed (finished)
- Semi-Aniline or Lightly Finished
- Sealed or Top Finished
In all categories, the leather substrate is dyed, usually to a colour which is related to the intended finished colour.
You'll also notice the main differences are in the amount of pigment, clear sealer and if a print colour is used. A print colour is a thin darker colour lightly applied over a base colour to achieve and 2-tone effect.
Waxed oiled or pull-up leather is processed differently from those in the diagram. Yes, it is dyed like the others but instead of a clear sealer over the top, hot oils and waxes are used. If I had to put it in the diagram, waxed oiled leather would be closest to semi-aniline.
Hopefully this all makes sense. Now, let's take a closer look.
Examples Of Different Leather Types:
Top Finished or Sealed Leathers:
Top finished, sealed leathers all have an even sheen over the surface, ranging from satin or low sheen to a gloss.
They do, however, come in different finishes:
- Single Colour
- Mottle or Two-Tone.
So, let's look at some examples ...
1: SINGLE COLOUR:
This leather has a single, solid colour with an even sheen over the entire surface.
Here's the single colour process:
- Pigmented (single colour, several coats)
- Clear Sealer
Products You Can Use On Single Coloured Leather:
- Care: Twin or Triple Pack Leather Care Kits.
- Colour Restoration: Both Spray-On and Wipe-On Leather Restoration Kits.
2: MOTTLED, 2-TONE, ANTIQUED:
Mottled or 2-tone leather is finished with two colours and here's how it's processed:
- Pigmented Base Colour (single colour, several coats)
- A dark colour either lightly sprayed or printed over the top (called the print colour)
- Clear Sealer
This is how the antiqued look is achieved. A clear sealer over the surface gives a final protective layer.
After several years of wear, the print colour will often wear off in high wear areas exposing the base colour ...
Products You Can Use On Mottled Leathers:
Waxed Oil Or Pull-Up Leather
Waxed oil or pull-up leathers are simply dyed leather with waxes and oils rolled over the surface which darkens the leather and give its distressed characteristics.
Here's how waxed oiled, pull-up leathers are processed:
- Hot Oils and Waxes Rolled Over The Surface
- Rolled With How Rollers To Shine and Smooth The Leather
When you press your finger into a hidden area, the colour generally lightens. This is because the oil is always mobile and moves with pressure.
Over time, direct sunlight and heat will evaporate the waxes and oils, causing the leather to lose suppleness and the original dye will often fade.
but if the dye has faded, this will need to be refinished professionally.
Products You Can Use On Waxed Oiled Pull-Up Leathers:
Semi-Aniline Or Lightly Finished Leather
Semi-Aniline leather is dyed and is often lightly pigmented, with a clear sealer making it easier to clean.
How Semi Aniline leather is processed:
- Sometimes lightly pigmented
- Clear Sealer
This leather will have an even sheen and will feel softer and more pliable than normal top-finished leathers. This is because there is very little pigment used.
Products You Can Use On Semi-Aniline Leather:
Aniline Or Unfinished Leather
These leathers are dyed with NO pigment or sealer, making it very easy to mark and stain.
Here's how it's processed:
- Dyed only
One of the ways this leather is identified is, it will darken if you firmly press a wet finger onto the surface. If you look closely in the photos (above and below), the nap slightly changes colour when you run your hand over it. It's almost like suede.
You can use the leather cleaner (with sponge) and leather conditioner but not the protector.
Products You Can Use On Unfinished Leather:
- Care: For general cleaning, the leather cleaner.
- Colour Restoration: Needs to be done by a professional.
I thought I would inclue bicast as many folks are led to believe this is leather but simply put, is a polyurethane film bonded onto a background of compressed leather fibres.
Here's how bicast is processed:
- Bottom Split or leather board substrate
- Bonded film applied to surface
It has a firm glossy finish with a smooth vinyl-like surface.
Products You Can Use On Bicast:
- Care: Twin Pack Leather Care Kit.
- Colour Restoration: Sorry but no.
NOTE: Because it has a plastic-like finish, the conditioner will NOT penetrate so the twin pack is best.
Still Not Sure?
No problem! If you could take some pics and send them to me, I'll happy to take a look for you. Simple.