Frequent times you may hear leather names and descriptions that you might not fully understand, here is a definition of the most popular leather qualities that you might hear
FULL GRAIN LEATHER
Just as the grain, texture and markings of wood should reveal the nature of the tree from which it came, leather should display the natural markings and grain characteristics of the animal from which it was taken. The best upholstery leathers are clear, clean, and supple. They are also dyed through with transparent aniline dyes. The full natural grain is retained and they are called "full grain leather.
TOP GRAIN LEATHER
“Top grain", is the definition that is generally used when the leather is buffed or treated. The better the quality of hide or skin, the less it has to be treated. The natural grain variations should be exposed. One should see the "fat wrinkles" and the feel, or hand, should be supple and natural to the touch. So when choosing your leather, make sure it looks natural, smells good, and has a soft hand
Cheaper leathers have an imitation grain pressed or embossed into the surface. They are stiff and "boardy" with a heavy coating of pigmentation to cover up imperfections and they look and feel like plastic.
Only the finest hides in the world fall in this category. Lovers of truly natural products are particular fond of these leathers. Through the years this type of leather develops a patina which adds to its value as a focal point in any room. Only 5% of the total world hide supply fall in this category.-Only "A" grade hides meet this criteria.
Some of the finest hides in the world fall in this category. The only difference is a slightly lower selection of hides can be used here. A slight protective finish is applied by roller or in the tannage to give the leather some serviceability. The dye permeates the entire hide and results in a soft, rich colour.
These leathers are processed a little more, first by aniline dying in large drums like the leathers above, but then also finished on top. Spray pigments of color are applied to the tops of the hides to even out the finish and camouflage natural occurring imperfections. These leathers are light resistant and scratch resistant and are easily cleaned.