What Type Of Leather Do You Have?

Before using any care or repair products, it's very important you know what type of leather you have.

Here's a simple chart I've made to help you understand better ...

leather types diagram

To keep things really simple, I've divided leathers into 3 categories:

Waxed oiled or pull-up leathers don't really fit into this diagram so we will look at these seperately.

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 and clear sealer used.

Hopefully this all makes sense. Now, let's take a closer look.

Top Finished or Sealed Leathers:

top finished leather

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 ranging from single colour to mottle or two-tone.

So, let's look at some examples ...

Single Colour

These leathers are finished with ONE solid colour over the entire surface. Care and restoration products will work extremely well on these.

For example, car leather ...

car seat leather

A single, solid colour with an even sheen over the entire surface. It's very rare to find any other sort of leather in cars, although I have seen one or two cars with unsealed leather inserts but you'll easily be able to identfy these.

Mottled, 2-Tone, Antique

antiqued leather

These leather are usually finished with two colours. A light base colour with a dark colour either lightly sprayed or printed over the top (called the print colour) to achieve a mottle or antique look, with a clear sealer for a final protective layer.

After several years of wear the print colour will often wear off in high wear areas ...

print colour wearing off

To care for top-finished leather, I recommend either the twin or triple pack leather care kit.

Waxed Oil Or Pull-Up Leather

waxed oil leather example

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 unusual look..

When you press your finger into a hidden area, the colour generally lightens. This is because the oil is always mobile and seperates 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.

faded waxed oil leather couch

The waxed oil leather care products will work well for maintaining these leathers, but if the dye has faded, this will need to be refinished professionally.

Semi-Aniline Or Lightly Finished Leather

semi-aniline leather

Semi-Aniline leather is dyed with a clear sealer and is often lightly pigmented, making it easier to clean.

This leather will have an even sheen and will feel softer and more pliable than normal top-finished leathers.

You can use either the triple pack or twin pack leather care kits on this leather.

Aniline Or Unfinished Leather

sample of aniline leather

These leathers are dyed with NO pigment or sealer, making it very easy to mark and stain.

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.

close up of aniline leather

You can use the leather cleaner (with sponge) and leather conditioner but not the protector.

VIDEOS Showing How Leather Is Made In The Tannery

I've found some videos which I thought you would find interesting, showing how leather is processed in the tannery ...

bicast leather sample


bicast leather sample

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.

It has a firm glossy finish with a smooth vinyl-like surface.

Yes, you can use the leather care products on bicast but because it has a plastic-like finish, the conditioner will NOT penetrate so the twin pack is recommended.

Will repair products work on bicast leathers? Sorry, but no.