Leather Type

Leather Type

This Standard details the terminology to be used to accurately inform the commercial specifier, furniture manufacturer and end user so as to make certain that the leather type they specify or purchase is the type that is represented by the leather wholesaler. A comprehensive Glossary of Leather Terms has been issued by the International Council of Tanners (ICT) and defines leather as follows:

“A general term for hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible. The hair or wool may or may not have been removed. Leather is also made from a hide or skin which has been split into layers or segmented either before or after tanning, but if the tanned hide or skin is disintegrated mechanically and/or chemically into fibrous particles, small pieces or powders and then, with or without the combination of a binding agent, is made into sheets or other forms, such sheets or forms are not leather. If the leather has a surface coating, this surface layer, however applied, must not be thicker than 0.15mm”. ICT 1999

Types of Leather Commonly Used for Furniture

The following descriptions shall be used to describe the various types of leather. Where a Commercial Leather Association (CLA) member’s leather conforms to the standards, it is mandatory to display the following descriptions and or symbols in full at the point of sale ie sampling, information brochures, web sites etc.

These definitions have been included for the benefit of specifiers, furniture manufacturers and end users to enable them to make an informed decision regarding the differences and qualities of the different leather types.

Full/Pure Aniline

Leather that has been drum-dyed without pigment applied to surface. A light protective coating is sometimes added. It will exhibit all natural features such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Only the best raw hides are selected for this leather type. Requires regular care.

NUBUCK (Leather Suede)

Drum-dyed aniline leather where the surface grain has been buffed, which may or may not have been treated with any protective coating. Requires regular care with nubuck specific care products.

Pull Up Aniline

Drum-dyed aniline leather with a top coat of oil and/or wax effects, designed to exhibit a ‘distressed look’. Exhibits all the natural features such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Requires regular care.


Drum-dyed leather incorporating a small amount of pigment and protective finish however this finish does not conceal all the natural characteristics of the hide. Requires regular care.

Pigmented Leather

Drum-dyed with thicker layer of pigment and protective finish applied. These finishes will conceal natural markings such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Lower grade hides are selected for this type of leather. Requires regular care.

Corrected Grain

Drum-dyed with the natural grain removed, a heavy layer of pigment and protective finish is applied. The leather is then embossed with an artificial patterned grain, which provides a uniform appearance, ie. no natural markings such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Lower grade hides are selected for this type of leather. Requires regular care.

Leather Care

For the purposes of this Standard, regular care means the application of commercially available leather care products, used in accordance with care label instructions.

The following definitions are included for reference only.

Re-coated embossed leather made from the under layers of hide.

Laminated Splits
Lower layers of hide laminated to a surface coat.

By Casts
Uses the lower split, with a film of coloured polyurethane applied.


  1. Splits and Laminated Splits are not recommended for use on furniture, as they are suited only for shoe inners, work boots some belts etc.
  2. By Cast does not appear in the IGLT (1999) and the CLA warns against the use of this material.
  3. Leather Standards -for each Leather Type To qualify CLA members to use the CLA Leather Type Symbols each leather quality must have been tested at a certified laboratory to the appropriate CLA Leather category test standards test methods.

The recently published European Standards EN 13336 and test methods have been adopted by the CLA as the most appropriate standards and test methods.

The leather standards and test methods for each leather type are listed in Annex A (Table A.1a -Aniline, Nubuck and Pull-Up, Table 1B -Semi-Aniline and Table 1C – Pigmented and Corrected Grain).


As fire standards vary greatly, specifiers and end users must inform themselves via the fire department, Building Code of Australia (BCA) or relevant government authorities of the appropriate standards required for a particular project, location or end use situation.


All leather types (as described in 2.3) have been used successfully in both residential and commercial applications.

The CLA recommends that specifiers, retailers and manufacturers take care to ensure that the leather specified is appropriate for each individual project. Please refer comments in Recommended Values Column of Annex A.

Clients should be advised to discuss leather types and their suitability in relation to individual projects with the relevant CLA member. It is important that the client understands the various qualities of each leather type.

Source : Contemporary Leathers