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how to identify types of leather

Whether you own leather in any of the forms of clothing, furniture, bags etc. it is essential how to identify the types of leather that you have because keeping the leather as good as new for a long time requires proper maintenance and for this purpose you need to identify the type of leather that you own. There are different types of leather available in the market and in this blog we are going to discuss how to identify what type of leather you have out of the major leather types.

1- Aniline Leather

At the tannery, the surface of aniline leather is colored using transparent dyes which makes the aniline leather look similar to a stained wood when you look at its surface. While the grains of aniline leather are visually distinguishable and stays natural as there is no other finish on its surface that is why the aniline leather has minimal surface protection.

In order to identify this leather type, when we see a piece of aniline leather through a magnifying glass, natural texture of the leather and variations of colors are seen. The texture of the aniline leather has differences and imperfections and shows the usage effects i.e. UV exposure, scratches etc. When a piece of aniline leather has been rubbed by fingertip no marks are seen, however, when you lightly scratch it with finger nail it leaves scratch mark due to minimal surface protection. A water drop soaks into the aniline leather and leaves dark mark behind.

2- Semi-Aniline Leather

The surface of this type of leather has a thin coating which gives minimal protection and is colored using dyes at the tannery.

When we examine a piece of semi-aniline leather through a magnifying glass, natural texture of the leather can still be seen however it has become a bit obscured. Depending on the finishing depth, when rubbed through finger nail semi-aniline may or may not leave a scratch mark but not as much as left on the aniline leather even if it may, however it does not leave any mark when rubbed through fingertip. Also the water drop will not leave any dark spot as it soak in the well-finished semi-aniline leather.

3- Pull-Up Leather

It is basically the aniline leather treated with either of the wax or oil and has a natural gloss to its surface. It is slightly more protected than simple aniline leather. When you examine a piece of pull-up leather with magnifying glass it shows most of the natural texture with color variations. When scratched through fingernail it produces obvious marks. A water drop soaks slowly as compared to the aniline leather but will leave a dark spot on the surface, once it has been soaked in. The major identification method of pull-up leather is that it lightens when pulled, stretched or bent.

4- Pigmented Leather

The major clue of identifying pigmented leather is that it is recognized by the uniform color. When rubbed by a fingertip or scratched by fingernail, no marks are left on the surface of pigmented leather. Likewise the water drop will not leave any dark spot on pigmented leather as it will not soak inside the surface. When seen through a magnifying glass its texture will not be prominent like the aniline leather, some hair follicles filled with the color of the finish will be seen as it is top coat leather with pigmented color protection.

5- Two-Tone Leather

It is just like the pigmented leather except that more than one color pigments are used for the finishing of this leather that is why all the test results of two-tone leather are similar to the pigmented leather. However, it is recognized by the more than one shades of color pigments used in the leather.

6- Bi-Cast Leather

When you examine a piece of bi-cast leather it tends to maintain an extremely consistent feel and thickness on the entire surface area. The testing methods and results of the bi-cast leather are also same as the pigmented leather. However, to recognize the bi-cast leather and distinguish it from pigmented leather, flexibility and examining through a magnifying glass test can be conducted. Due to thickness of the finishing, bi-cast leather is less flexible than the pigmented leather as is much stiffer than any other type of leather and when seen through magnifying glass no hair follicles are seen on it due to the uniformity of the surface area.


Once you are ascertain about the type of leather you own, it will become easier to figure out how to maintain that leather as leather may get damaged because of humidity, body moisture, stains and other materials with which it may get in contact with. However, good quality leather is easier to maintain and it is quite durable. You can determine or identify your leather type by either of the above discussed methods of touching, scratching, water dropping or absorbing, examining through the magnifying glass etc.