There are so many different types of leather it can be hard to tell which is real and which isn’t. Many consumers aren’t aware of the differences between different types of leather, and top grain leather is one that many people ask questions about.
When you see something that is made with top-grain leather, this means that the outermost layer has been removed from the hide. Technically, the top grain is actually real leather, it is just thinner and less unique than the leather you are used to seeing as “real leather”.
What is Top Grain Leather?
Top grain leather is considered the second-highest quality leather.
It is commonly used in bags because the desirable pristine appearance can be achieved with sanding, buffing, and shaving. To get top grain, the outer layer of the animal epidermis is removed to make the material thinner and easier to work with.
Due to this outermost layer being removed, top grain leather is missing a lot of the uniqueness that you will see from genuine full-grain leather. However, this doesn’t make it any less of real, genuine leather.
Top Grain vs. Full Grain Leather
The only difference between full grain and top grain is how they are made. Full grain leather is the most durable of all leathers because it is made out of the highest quality animal skin and all grain is kept intact.
Top grain leather also comes from animal skin, except it goes through a burning, sanding, and shaving process to remove the most external layer of the skin. This is still a durable leather option, but full grain is stronger.
Although top grain leather is considered genuine leather, there are still other differences between it and full grain leather. Some other differences between full grain leather and top grain leather include how much they cost, how they look, how they age, how durable they are, and how you care for them.
Although there are several ways these two types of leather are different, there is one feature that they both have that most people enjoy. Both full grain leather and top grain leather are hypoallergenic. This means that if you or anyone in your family has allergies, you won’t have to worry about the leather causing you any problems.
The better quality the leather is, the more expensive it will be. Genuine full grain leather will always be more expensive than top grain leather. In addition to quality, there are other factors that are taken into consideration when determining the cost of leather.
Top grain is going to be less expensive than full because it is much easier for manufacturers to obtain and work with. Since they don’t have to put as much effort into top grain, manufacturers charge less for it.
Full grain leather is unique and will always look different. It has visible marks on the surface that come from what the animal experienced during life. Top grain will have no visible marks because the surface is sanded down, removing the grain that is natural on the skin. Top grain will have more of a uniform look than full grain.
Only full grain leather will age and develop a patina, which it the sheen or gloss on the surface due to aging. Top grain leather will not have this experience because the outmost layer of the hide has been removed.
Both of these types of leather are extremely durable, but full grain will always be more durable and stronger than top grain. Full grain is thicker and contains strong, natural fibers that top grain loses during the manufacturing process.
With so many different types of leather, it can be hard to determine which types are genuine and which ones aren’t. Leather is typically genuine when it comes from the skin of an animal. In the case of top grain leather, it is considered genuine and real because it is just a thinner version of leather.
Top grain leather is animal skin with the outer layer of the epidermis shaved off. This makes it easier to work with while maintaining similar durability to real full grain leather. It is also less expensive than full leather for this reason.