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What is Full-Grain Leather?

Full-grain leather is considered the best quality leather because it has not been treated significantly.
Full-grain leather can be dyed into a variety of colors.
Full-grain leather is a popular material for making shoes.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Full-grain leather is considered among the best quality leather available. It can be made from a variety of different animal hides, but most usually is made from cow skin. Leather can undergo complex treatment processes in order to create many different products, but many of these treatments can result in weaker leather that will not wear as well. This is especially true when the leather is treated with chemicals. Full-grain leather is desirable because of its minimal treatments and its durability.

With this type of leather, the hides of the animal used are not treated significantly. They have the hair of the animal removed, but they are not sanded. This can result in some minor flaws in the leather, but it also results in the most breathable leather a person can wear. Like a great pair of jeans, clothing made from this product actually gets more comfortable the more a person wears it, becoming softer and some say even more attractive as it gets older.

Though full-grain leather is not sanded, it can still be dyed, called an aniline finish. Non-dyed varieties are hard to find and, in fact, if consumers aren't shopping for an aniline finish, they will usually find a semi-aniline finish instead. This is a clear finish placed on the leather that will allow imperfections in the leather to show. Actually, many people desire the semi-aniline finish because it gives a more natural look to the leather.

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Unlike other types of leather, full-grain versions use the whole hide rather than only layers. Top-grain leather, for example, which is another very desirable product, uses just the top layers of the animal hide. Using the whole hide makes full-grain leather much thicker and great for products that require a certain amount of durability. For instance, shoppers can find great messenger bags, duffel bags, and briefcases made by well-known designers using this type of leather.

Many different types of shoes may be made with full-grain leather. Natural choices include the cowboy boot, but popularity of this material has resulted in athletic, dress, golf and a variety of other style shoes made with this leather. Consumers will also find a number of furniture pieces upholstered with it. These are most desired because of their exceptional durability and their improvement in look and feel the longer they are used.

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anon330325
Post 7

What is the difference between upholstery and handbag leather if they are both full-grain?

anon197789
Post 6

I have now had two sofas. My daughter took one set; a full grain sofa, two chairs, and ottoman when she moved into her place. My wife and I replaced this set with another full grain sofa, chair, and ottoman. On top of that we have a set of full grain recliner theater seats.

We have and do love them all. When we purchased our new house, my wife bought a micro-fiber sofa and love seat, while she was waiting for the furniture to be delivered and thinking it would be a nicer fit than the leather set my daughter has. We disliked it so much, that is why we bought the second leather set.

We have two small dogs that are on them all the time and they are no problem, as well as well as my small nieces and nephews who visit often and again no problem.

I would recommend full grain leather as an investment to anyone. They really do look and feel better with age, and overall, just stand up so, so much better.

Just thinking about how much money we have spent over the years on other fabric types and styles, when one really well made (yes, more expensive) quality leather set would have saved us so much more money.

galen84basc
Post 3

My grandfather had a full grain leather chair that I always loved.

It really does get such character as you use it, and it is so durable that it really is worth the upfront cost.

rallenwriter
Post 2

@EarlyForest -- I've never had leather sofas, but I would think that full grain leather sofas would actually be more comfortable.

It's not like you're going to be sitting on them naked, so it shouldn't feel rough.

Besides, full grain leather furniture has such a nice look, and I think it gets even more attractive as you use it.

While it may not be the best choice for a family with young children, I think that a full grain leather couch or recliner would be a really nice investment in your home.

EarlyForest
Post 1

Has anybody ever used a full grain leather couch? I always thought it might be a little too rough to be comfortable, but I don't know...they just look so pretty.

Does anybody have one of these or know about them?

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