Types of Leather Finishes

Tanning, Dyed leather and finished leather

All good quality leather products such as wallets, watch straps and handbags are tanned (cured) and then dyed uniformly. From this point, the leather is then finished in numerous ways to bring out the different effects, colors and characteristics desired of the leather product. Finishing for leather can done for visual effects such as sanding the outer layer of leather to create a Nubuck finish for a velvety texture. Finishing leather can also be for pragmatic purposes to make the leather more resistant such as a waxed finish coats the leather with a protective layer to make it more dirt resistant.

Understanding which type of leather finishing leather is available allows you to choose the finishing that is most suited for your needs and appearance. Here are a few common finishes:

NUBUCK LEATHERS

Finish: Sanding for velvet finish

A nubuck is an aniline leather that is lightly sanded to raise the naps (short protein fibers), to create a soft, smooth velour type finish. The sanding also removes any defects or visible markings in the hide. It can be further coloured by light airbrusing with pigments. However, it does not have any surface protective coating. It still has some protection through the addition of special treatments during the processing which provides some dirt resistance. It has medium UV resistance, which means that it may oxidise and discolor under prolonged direct sunlight. Its main advantage is its high durability as it is derived from Top-grain leather with little alterations.

ANILINE LEATHERS

Finish: None

Aniline leather is the most luxurious leather. It is very soft to the touch. As leather is organic and natural, different parts of the hide will absorb different quantities of aniline dye, so you will see lots of shade variation. As it undergoes little treatment, great care must be taken to keep this leather looking its best. An aniline leather product is not recommended usage where it is easily exposed to dirt and spillage.

SEMI-ANILINE LEATHERS

Finish: Protective coating sealer

Semi-aniline leather is produced similar to pure-aniline, but has a thin protective top coat added to protect it from wear and staining. Like aniline leather, it is usually manufactured from high-grade hides with little natural markings. It is suited for medium to light wear use. Semi-aniline is very soft and often show the natural markings of the hide such as healed scars, growth marks.

EMBOSSED LEATHERS

Embossed leather is created when leather is stamped using heat and high pressure to produce certain textures, pattern or design. Common embossing designs include alligator, crocodile, floral and geometric patterns. The Embossed finish is often used in conjunction with other finishing processes to produce spectacular visual effects and texture in leather.

PIGMENTED TOP-COATED LEATHERS

Finish: Multi-coats of pigments + Protective coating sealer

It is regarded as the most practical for upholstery leathers. It is rigid when new but will soften with use and have good resistance to colour loss.

WAXED OR OIL FINISHED LEATHERS

Finish: Wax or/and oil coating

The leather is finished with wax or oil or a combination of both. These leather-specific oils and waxes provide a protective coating and enhance the visual effect of the base dye colour. It is highly resistant to dirt wear. This leather may lighten in colour over time and may require recoating of the waxes and oils.