What is Top Grain Leather?

What is Top Grain Leather? - Definition, Types & Information


    Introduction to top grain leather: A Comprehensive Guide

    Top grain leather, a high-quality leather type, is obtained from the upper layer of animal hides and undergoes sanding or buffing processes for a flawless finish. This material combines durability and suppleness, making it suitable for diverse applications, especially in the fashion industry.

    What is Top Grain Leather?

    Top grain leather, a superior class of leather, ranks just below full-grain leather. Derived from the upper section of animal hides, the outermost layer is removed to yield a thinner, more flexible material. This characteristic makes it more convenient for manufacturers, offering a cost-effective alternative to full-grain leather while preserving its elegant appearance, durability, and versatile applications across various industries such as furniture, fashion, and automotive.

    What is Full Grain Leather GENTCREATE

    Production Process

    Top grain leather production involves multiple stages, including rawhide preparation, selection of the superior layer, sanding and buffing, and dyeing and finishing. Thoroughly cleaned animal hides are separated into layers, with the hair removed from the outermost layer renowned for its inherent grain and strength. Imperfections are eliminated through sanding or buffing, followed by dyeing and finishing to attain a uniform color. Lastly, a protective coating is applied to enhance the material's resistance to wear.

    Full Grain Leather

    What are the 4 grades of leather?

    The four grades of leather are full grain, top grain, split, and bonded. Full grain is the highest quality, while bonded is the lowest.

    Ranked by Quality:

    1. Full Grain Leather
    2. Top Grain Leather
    3. Split Leather
    4. Bonded Leather

    Leather Types Ranked by Quality

    What is the grain layer of a hide?

    The grain layer of a hide refers to the outermost surface of an animal skin, which consists of tightly packed fibers and displays the natural patterns and markings unique to each animal.

    Overall Quality Of This Leather Type

    In the leather type quality hierarchy, top grain leather ranks below full grain leather, which is prized for its complete grain structure, strength, and durability. Top grain leather, though slightly less durable due to its sanding or buffing process, offers a more uniform appearance. Lower in the hierarchy, split leather is derived from the lower layers of the hide, while bonded leather, a more affordable alternative, lacks the durability and breathability of genuine or real leather.


    Top grain leather, a genuine leather variety, is characterized by its durability, uniform appearance, and protective coating that enhances resistance to wear and tear. However, compared to full-grain leather, which is made from the entire thickness of the animal hide it exhibits a lower durability. It ranks as number 2 on a durability scale when compared to the other leather types.

    Quality and Longevity

    The quality and longevity of top grain leather items hinge on factors such as the manufacturing technique, the specific animal hide utilized, and the care and maintenance afforded. By implementing proper care, top grain leather products can maintain their quality and appearance for an extended period.

    Waterproofing and Water Resistance

    Although top grain leather lacks natural waterproofing properties, applying a water-resistant spray or coating can enhance its resistance to moisture. However, it's crucial to be aware that waterproofing treatments might impact the leather's breathability.

    Is top grain leather good quality?

    Yes, top grain leather is considered high-quality due to its durability, suppleness, and aesthetic appeal. It's obtained from the upper layer of animal hides and is used in various applications.

    Which is better top grain or full grain leather?

    Full grain leather is considered better due to its complete grain structure, natural appearance, and higher durability. However, top grain leather offers a more uniform appearance and is more affordable.

    Advantages vs Disadvantages

    Advantages of Top Grain Leather

    • Durability

    Top grain leather is known for its durability due to the protective coating applied during the finishing process. This coating helps to resist wear and tear, ensuring that top grain leather products last for years with proper care.

    • Aesthetic Appeal

    Top grain leather offers a more uniform appearance, as imperfections are removed during the sanding and buffing process. This results in a smooth, flawless finish that is visually appealing and luxurious.

    • Affordability

    While top grain leather is more expensive than split or bonded leather, it is generally more affordable than full-grain leather. This makes top grain leather a popular choice for consumers seeking a balance between quality and cost.

    Disadvantages of top grain Leather

    • Reduced Breathability

    Owing to the sanding and buffing process, top grain leather exhibits lower breathability than full-grain leather. This can result in a less comfortable feel, particularly in warmer climates or during prolonged use.

    • Less Natural Appearance

    While the uniform appearance of top grain leather is an advantage for some, it also means that the natural grain and character of the leather are somewhat diminished. This can make top grain leather look less authentic compared to full-grain leather.

    • Susceptibility to Damage

    Though top grain leather is durable, it is more susceptible to damage than full-grain leather. The protective coating can eventually wear away, exposing the leather to potential damage from scratches, stains, and fading.

    • Lower Durability Compared to Full-Grain Leather

    Although top grain leather is durable, it is not as long-lasting as full-grain leather, which retains its entire grain structure and has greater resistance to wear and tear.

    Difference Between Top Grain Leather vs. Other Leather Types:

    • Top Grain Leather vs. Genuine Leather

    Top grain leather is a high-quality type of genuine leather. While genuine leather is a general term that includes various leather types, top grain leather stands out for its durability, consistent appearance, and protective coating that enhances wear resistance.

    • Top Grain Leather vs. Full-Grain Leather

    Full-grain leather, the highest quality leather, retains the entire grain structure of the hide, making it more durable and allowing it to develop a unique patina over time. In contrast, top grain leather has a more uniform appearance but may have fewer natural imperfections. Full-grain leather is generally more expensive than top grain leather.

    • Top Grain Leather vs. Split Leather

    Split leather comes from the lower layers of the hide after the top layer is removed. Compared to top grain leather, split leather has lower durability and lacks the grain structure found in top grain and full-grain leather. Split leather is often used for lower-cost products and may be embossed or treated to resemble higher-quality leather.

    • Top Grain Leather vs. Bonded Leather

    Bonded leather is created by combining leather scraps and fibers with a binding agent and pressing them into sheets. While bonded leather is more affordable than top grain leather, it lacks the durability and breathability of genuine leather. Bonded leather tends to degrade more quickly over time and is generally considered the lowest quality of leather.

    Top Grain Leather Care & Maintenance

    Proper care and maintenance of top grain leather products involve gently wiping dirt and dust away with a soft, damp cloth, steering clear of harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, and regularly applying a high-quality leather conditioner specifically designed for top grain leather. Protecting top grain leather items from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures and storing them in a cool, dry area also helps preserve their quality and appearance.

    Cleaning Methods:

    To maintain the pristine appearance of top grain leather, diligent care and suitable cleaning methods are crucial. Utilize a high-quality leather soap or nubuck cleaning cloth for optimal cleaning results, while also being cautious not to use a soap that leaves residue, which could potentially foster bacterial growth and harm the leather over time. It is essential to condition top grain leather biannually using a premium leather conditioner and a soft cloth, ensuring that the material retains its moisture and remains crack-resistant.


    Regularly apply a high-quality leather conditioner specifically designed for top grain leather. This will help maintain the leather's suppleness and prevent it from drying out or cracking.


    Protect your top grain leather products from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent fading and damage. Using a leather protector spray can also help shield the leather from stains and moisture.


    Store top grain leather items in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. When storing leather garments, use a breathable garment bag to maintain proper air circulation and prevent mold growth.

    Is top grain leather easy to clean?

    Yes, top grain leather is easy to clean. Gently wipe away dirt and dust using a soft, damp cloth, and avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.

    Does top grain leather fade in sunlight?

    Yes, top grain leather can fade in sunlight. To protect it, keep the leather away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

    Does top grain leather need a conditioner?

    Yes, top grain leather benefits from regular conditioning using a high-quality leather conditioner specifically designed for top-grain leather.

    Top grain Leather Applications


    Top grain leather is often used in furniture upholstery due to its durability, aesthetic appeal, and affordability. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans made from top grain leather provide a luxurious and comfortable addition to any living space.


    Fashion items like jackets, leather bags, handbags, shoes, and leather backpacks are often made from top grain leather due to its stylish look and long-lasting quality.


    Top grain leather is highly favored in automotive interiors, including seats, steering wheel covers, and gear shift knobs, due to its combination of durability and luxurious feel, making it a perfect choice for upscale vehicles.

    Identifying top grain Leather Products

    How can you tell if leather is top-grain?

    Wondering how to identify top-grain leather? One way is to examine the leather's texture, as it typically displays a smoother and more even appearance compared to full-grain leather. The surface might also have undergone a light sanding or buffing process to remove any flaws. Additionally, look for any labels or markings on the item that could signify "top-grain" or "genuine leather." Additionally, top-grain leather generally falls within a moderate price range, making it more affordable than full-grain leather but more expensive than split or bonded leather. Consulting the manufacturer or retailer for information about the leather type used in the product can also help confirm if it is top-grain leather.

    Labels and Markings

    Top grain leather products will often have labels or markings indicating the type of leather used. Look for terms like "top grain" or "genuine leather" when purchasing leather items.


    The texture of top grain leather is typically smoother and more uniform than full-grain leather, which retains its natural grain structure. This can help differentiate between the two types of leather.


    Top grain leather products usually cost less than full-grain leather items but more than split or bonded leather products. Comparing prices can help you identify the type of leather used in a product.

    Consult Manufacturer or Retailer

    In case of uncertainty surrounding the specific leather used in a given product, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer or retailer for additional insights. They ought to be capable of providing details pertaining to the materials and craftsmanship of the item.

    What is the Relationship Between Top-Grain Leather and Corrected Grain Leather?

    Top-grain leather and corrected grain leather share a commonality in that they both undergo processes to remove imperfections and achieve a more uniform appearance. Top-grain leather, derived from the upper layer of animal hides, is sanded or buffed to eliminate any scars or defects on the surface. Similarly, corrected grain leather is made by buffing hides with noticeable scarring and imperfections.

    However, there is a key difference between the two leather types. After the buffing process, corrected grain leather has an artificial grain embossed or stamped onto its surface to restore the grain appearance. This artificial grain creates a more consistent look across the material. Additionally, corrected grain leather is often treated with a semi-aniline or pigmented dye to enhance its appearance further. In contrast, top-grain leather retains a more natural look, even after sanding or buffing, without the need for artificial grain imprints.

    Factors to Consider when Purchasing top grain Leather Products

    Quality Indicators

    Look for signs of quality craftsmanship, such as even stitching, smooth edges, and a consistent finish. High-quality top grain leather products will typically have a more refined appearance.

    Price Comparisons

    Compare prices of top grain leather products with similar items made from full-grain, split, or bonded leather. This will help you determine if you're getting a fair price for the quality of leather used.

    Environmental Impact

    Leather production can have a significant environmental impact, including water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Consider the environmental practices of the manufacturer or retailer and look for sustainably sourced or produced leather products when possible. In our case at GENTCREATE, we pride ourselves in working with only certified and eco-friendly tanneries.

    Vegan Considerations

    Top grain leather is an animal-derived material and is not suitable for those seeking vegan alternatives. Vegan leather options made from synthetic materials, such as PU (polyurethane) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride), are available for those looking for cruelty-free options.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Top grain Leather

    Our Opinion on This Leather Type

    In conclusion, we at GENTCREATE are proud to assert that top grain leather effectively blends luxury, aesthetics, and affordability, making it an ideal material for a diverse array of applications. Consequently, we've chosen top grain leather for crafting some of our most in-demand leather accessories and products. Our aim is to educate and write comprehensive texts of the intricacies that underpin the creation of our products. By acquainting oneself with the distinct characteristics, manufacturing techniques, and uses of top grain leather, and taking into account aspects like quality, cost, and environmental implications, our customers can make judicious decisions when selecting both our and other leather goods.