Leather Techniques and Terms

We love what we do, and for those interested, please find below some fun and interesting terms that have to do with our craft.


Please reach out to us today if you are looking for “leather furniture repair near me” in the Greater Boston area. We look forward to serving you! 

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    Types of Leather Terms

    ​ANILINE LEATHER

    About 5 percent of any leather upholstery that’s produced falls into this category. When aniline dyes are used to on leather, this is what we call it. Often waxed, or treated with a protective lacquer, protein, or resin coating


    ANTIQUED

    Also referred to as distressed leather; this is leather which has been dyed with multiple colors on after the other for the purpose of creating artificial aging and prestigious highlights.


    CHROME TANNAGE

    This is presently the most commonly type of tannage in use in the USA. It’s the use of chromium salts to achieve mellow, soft hides that will more easily absorb a variety of colors.


    COMBINATION TANNAGE

    Using more than a single tanning agent on leather to give it more softness and body.


    CONDITIONING

    Using products to rehydrate and revitalize leather and help it keep itself together and support good quality.


    CORRECTED GRAIN

    Leather which is first abraded or sanded in order to remove faults, then pigmented to hide the sanding after which an artificial grain is printed on it. It is also referred to as top grain leather.


    CROCK

    What we call it when color gets rubbed off leather which has been dyed poorly.


    DISTRESSED

    Otherwise known as antiqued leather.


    DRUM DYING

    Immersing leather in a drum with dye stuff and tumbling the drum, allowing the dye to fully penetrate the leather


    EMBOSSED LEATHER

    Applying a pattern to leather through use of intense pressure often used to imitate the characteristics of full grain on corrected grain. Leathers are often embossed to give one type of leather the appearance of another.


    FAT WRINKLE

    Imitation leather lacks fat wrinkles. They are the wrinkles that animals’ fat deposits cause which give leather its rustic and beautiful appearance.


    FINISH

    A substance applied to the leather’s surface to mask imperfections, protect and/or color leather. This term can be used for any processing done to leather after tanning.


    FULL GRAIN

    Unaltered or uncorrected hide or skin once the hair is removed.


    GLAZED FINISH

    When the surface of the leather is polished using enormous pressure with glass on steel rollers. Besides this, it’s almost the same as an aniline finish.


    GRAIN CHARACTER

    Leather’s natural surface markings.


    GRAINED LEATHER

    Any leather on which the original natural grain has been changed or altered by any method, process or manipulation; also top grain.


    GRAIN SUEDED

    Leather in which the grain has been sueded for the purpose of getting a buffed appearance.


    HAND

    A word describing suppleness or softness of leather. A common term in the leather industry.


    LEATHERETTE

    A leather imitation, or faux leather fabric material.


    MATTE FINISH

    A finish without shine. 


    NAKED LEATHER

    A term used to describe leather which has only been dyed without any other finish or treatment.


    NAP

    The soft effect found after brushing or buffing leather.


    NATURAL GRAIN

    The original full grain retained in the leather


    NUBUCK

    Grain suede leather which has been brushed.


    OIL TANNED

    A pliable, soft leather tanned with fish oils.


    PATENT LEATHER

    When varnish, synthetic resins, or drying oils are used with successive coats on leather to get an impermeable glossy finish.


    PATINA

    When something looks beautifully grown on the surface through use or age; a quality achieved through habit, repetition, or constant use.


    PERFORATED

    Leather with a pattern of holes cut into it.


    PIGMENTED LEATHER

    When a flat surface color is added to leather to increase durability and mask blemishes.


    PLATING, PLATED LEATHER

    Using a heated metal plate to press leather. Plating, pigmenting, and sanding are most often used to cover imperfections in furniture leather.


    PULL-UP

    Areas of treated leather becoming lighter when stretched or pulled, particularly treated with dyes, waxes, and oils. This is seen as a sign of excellent quality.


    RECONSTITUTED LEATHER

    A fibrous mat put together using collagen fibers from macerated pieces of hide.


    REFINISHING

    Covering stains, correcting fading, and hiding damage trough applying finish to leather. Can also be used to change the color of leather.


    REPAIR

    Correcting minor damage through the use of synthetic filler materials.


    SEMI-ANILINE

    When a matching layer of pigment is added to aniline leather for the sake of protection and/or evening out the color.


    SHRUNKEN GRAIN LEATHER

    Enhancing the grain of a natural, full-grain leather by shrinking it.


    SIDE

    A lengthwise cut down the middle of a hide making a half.


    SPLIT LEATHER (SPLIT)

    Sliced hide with each layer done in equal thickness. Sometimes cheap leathers are just pigmented splits with imitation grain embossed. Can also be finished and trimmed as

    suede.


    SPOT REFINISHING

    Covering isolated damage in small areas by applying finish.


    STAINGUARDING

    Enhancing unfinished leather’s resistance to stain penetration through the temporary application of and invisible film.


    SUEDE

    Producing a nap by finishing through buffing the flesh side. This term only refers to the process of napping, and has doesn’t indicate why type of hide

    is used.


    TANNIN

    Leather tanning substances made from plants.


    TOP GRAIN

    Genuine grain leather, not embossed or pigmented.


    TWO-TONE

    Layers of dyes (either contrasting or similar) applied to leather to make an aged or mottled appearance.

    Two examples of two-tone leathers are Sauvaged and Antiqued leathers.


    UNFINISHED LEATHER

    Naked, aniline-dyed leathers with no added treatments or colors to alter the look or feel of the leather.


    UPHOLSTERY LEATHER

    Leather used in car seats, furniture, and airplanes.


    VAT DYEING

    A method of dyeing dating a long way back. Not to be confused with drum dyeing.


    VEGETABLE TANNING

    Using organic materials for tanning as opposed to the usual chemicals. Generally has better firmness and greater body than leather which is traditionally tanned.


    WEIGHT

    Ounces per square foot are used to weigh leather.


    WHOLE HIDE

    Usually used for upholstery, whole hide uses the full hide instead of just a side.