Definition of Grain

The grain of leather refers to the natural texture and pattern that’s visible on the surface. It's formed by the arrangement of collagen fibers in the animal hide and is responsible for giving the leather its strength and durability

There are four types of grain that appear on leather, each with its own unique characteristics:

  • Full grain: It hasn’t been sanded or buffed, so it retains the natural texture and markings of the hide. It's considered the highest quality and most durable type of leather and is what we use at American Bench Craft.
  • Top grain: It has been sanded or buffed to remove the outer layer of the hide, resulting in a smoother, more uniform appearance. It's still relatively durable, but may not have the same natural character as full grain leather.
  • Corrected grain: This type of leather has been heavily sanded and treated with a finish to create a uniform appearance. It may have artificial grain patterns applied to it to hide blemishes or imperfections in the hide.
  • Split grain: It’s made from the lower layers of the hide and is thinner and less durable than full grain or top-grain leather. It may have a suede-like texture due to the removal of the outer layer of the hide.

The table below further breaks down the characteristics of different grain types:

Grain Type Durability Natural Texture Uses
Full grain High Pronounced High-end products, luxury goods
Top grain Moderate Reduced Furniture, accessories
Corrected grain Varies depending on treatment Smooth Upholstery, lower-cost items
Split grain Lower Natural suede-like Lining, suede products, casual footwear

The grain of leather is a critical factor that affects its appearance and durability. Various factors can alter the leather grain. 

  • Type of animal: Cowhide has a tighter grain pattern than pigskin. Ultimately, the animal's breed, diet, and environment can also affect the grain.
  • Tanning process: It alters the texture of the grain in relation to suppleness or durability. Our full grain leather has a more pronounced grain than corrected grain leather which is smoother. 
  • Natural markings: These include scars and insect bites that result in unique and attractive grain patterns on the leather.

Example of Grain in a sentence

“Before starting any leatherwork project, check your leather for any grain irregularities.”


Natural pattern, texture.

Related terms for Grain