Top Grain : Full Grain & Corrected Leather
Top grain leather is the top cut of a cowhide. The diagram below illustrates how a cowhide, which initially is very thick, is sliced into two layers - the top cut and the bottom cut which is called split (suede comes from split leather). The top cut is what we call top grain leather and is the strongest and most valued part of the cowhide. We only sell top grain leather!
However, top grain leather is a general term simply referring to the top cut or layer of the hide. The hide still has to be tanned and finished to create leather for upholstery and other applications. Finished leather of course has to be colored using dyes or pigments but before this step, tanneries have to determine whether the hide can be tanned and finished in its natural state without any alteration to the hide's surface (full grain) OR whether it has to be "corrected." Tanneries "correct" hides as a way of removing or reducing excessive natural markings including bug bites, scratches, deep scars and brands to name a few. Here is a further explanation of full grain leather and corrected leather.
Full grain leather
Top grain leather in which the surface of the hide has not been altered in any way except for the removal of hair. Natural markings on the skin such as scratches or stretch marks are visible but are not excessive or unsightly and are considered the "signature of fine leather." Only 10-15% all hides can be finished as full grain leather most often with aniline dyes.
Top grain corrected leather
Top grain leather that has been "corrected" through sanding away natural markings and major blemishes on the leather’s surface. Once the surface is uniform it is embossed typically into a natural grain skin texture or pebble grain texture. The overwhelming majority of all upholstery leather is corrected and finished with pigments - creating a richly colored and long lasting leather.
The Leather Buying Guide was created by James Hunter Schofield, LeatherHideStore.com.