what is full grain leather

What Is Full-Grain Leather?

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Full-grain leather is one of the finest quality among different grades of leather that contains the entire grain layer without the removal of any surface. Rather wearing or tearing out, it develops a patina during its useful lifetime.

When people first hear the term full-grain leather they sometimes assume it must be grainy or pebbly. That is not the case. Full-grain leather refers to the unadulterated hide in its natural form.  

The strongest and highly durable leather comes from hide of an animal, which is just below the hair. The grain pattern in this region of the hide is very tight, and the leather attained from here is called “full-grain” leather. Full-grain leather is regarded as the highest quality leather, which is why it is abundantly used. Additionally, since the grain is so tightly woven, it resists moisture very well. Full-grain leather gets even nicer with time.

What’s the appearance of full-grain leather?

Full-grain leather displays all its natural markings and blemishes which add character to the material. As full-grain leather ages, it develops patina; it is the change in color over time. This change materializes faster on untreated pieces and is known to be highly desirable characteristic of leather.

On the smooth and untreated surface you can even identify pores and small hair follicles (with a magnifying glass), this indicates that the leather is of a high quality.

Every hide is unique with different blemishes and marking, as it is derived from different animals. When you observe it through magnifying glass, you will realize that no two hides are exactly the same. 

Where does it come from?

Full-grain leather comes from goats, sheep, pigs and even more exotic animals such as ostriches, alligators and kangaroo. However, cattle hide is the most commonly used skin to produce long lasting and high quality leather.

How is full-grain leather made?

Full-grain leather means that natural grain has not been altered in any way. It is exactly how the grain appeared in tanning process. The process of producing full-grain leather includes 3 main stages:

  • Preparation

Firstly, the animal skin or hide goes through the treatment of preservation. It is then cleaned and all the hair and fat from skin are removed followed by rehydration. The hide is then bleached to assist the penetration of tanning agents.

  • Tanning

The next step is tanning, which is the process of turning raw hide into a stable material that would later dry out to a flexible form. The most common chemical used for tanning is Chromium.

  • Crusting

Tanned hides then go through crusting process; the hide is thinned, tanned again and lubricated in this process. Coloring or dyeing of leather also takes place during crusting. Crusting mainly involves drying and softening the hides.

  • Finishing or surface coating

Leather is also given a final surface coating or finish with the help of:

  • Oiling
  • Brushing
  • Padding
  • Spraying
  • Buffing
  • Embossing
  • Glazing

Key features of full-grain leather

One of the best parts about owning a full-grain leather products is that it ages beautifully and develops its unique patina. If you are looking for something that would last a lifetime- and good looking as well- then full-grain leather is the way to go!

Quality and cost of full-grain leather

Full-grain leather is the finest quality of leather. As it comes from the top layer of the hide, it includes all of the natural grain. It is more expensive for the producers to buy and work with. This is eventually reflected in the cost to the consumer.

Durability and appearance

 The original surface of full-grain leather is unique- it tells a tale and reveals imperfections and natural flaws in the surface. Full-grain leather is extremely durable and strong, as the natural grains are tightly woven and contain the strongest fibers in the hide. While durable and strong, full-grain leather remains amazingly breathable, resulting in minimum moisture from prolonged contact.

Character and aging

Full-grain leather ages gracefully, rather than wearing out, it beautifies and burnishes, developing a unique character and much sought-after patina that cannot be easily replicated. Honestly, the more you use it, the better it feels and looks.

Maintenance and upkeep

When it comes to maintaining full-grain leather, the key is a mild cleaning product and light touch. To keep up the glow and its natural shine, simply use a microfiber cloth, warm water, or mild hand soap. Gently rub it on leather- make sure not to rub too hard or scrub. Let it dry naturally, use of hairdryers, steamers and direct sunlight can fade or warp the leather away. The best way to avoid staining your leather apparels to wipe everything right away. 

Conclusion

Full-grain leather is the real deal; it is simply the best you can get. It has the ultimate richness, depth and character which make it the best choice among all. 

Sadly, majority of consumers aren’t familiar with the term “full-grain” leather, and instead they look for the words “genuine leather”. “Genuine lather” has become a catch-all phrase for anything that is technically leather.

The point to ponder is, never fall for the genuine leather strap, and always goes for full-grain leather, it is the best option you will get.

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