Questions & Answers
Candid answers to your questions about furniture and design.
What's the difference between full and semi-aniline leather?
Hi there, I'm Chris, and I'm here to give you some tips on finding the perfect piece of furniture for your home.
Let's talk about leather. Broadly speaking, there are two types of leather out there in the world, full-aniline, and semi-aniline. The difference is really in how these leather hides are selected, prepared, and then colored.
So with full-aniline leather, it uses a dye that's semi translucent, so you kind of almost see through it to the original hide. And you're gonna to see natural characteristics on that hide like fat wrinkles, healed scars, bug bites, things like that. And you're gonna see some color variation on this type of leather, where one portion of the hide is a little bit darker than the other. The thing that's interesting is, once that's turned into a sofa, you're gonna see those color variations across the varying panels. Aniline leather also has this thing that's kinda cool called pull-up. When it's tufted or tight anywhere on the sofa, you're gonna see what's called, a bursting of color. So you'll see those lighter, more vibrant colors kind of come to the surface. Now aniline leather is tough, it's real leather after all. But it's gonna be more susceptible to things like scuffing, staining, some fading over time. Now, one way that tanneries will protect a full-aniline leather, is by adding a bit of a wax coating to its surface. It's gonna give it some resistance to water spots, things like that. It'll also give it a little bit of sheen.
Semi-aniline leather and a subset of that called, protected leather, is made a little bit differently. During the tanning process it's actually ground down by machine to give it a more even surface. And then texture is reapplied by a pressure roller. Now unlike a full-aniline leather, that uses those translucent dyes that you see through, semi-aniline leather is actually dyed using pigment. And that's a much more opaque, even coloring. Now because a lot of people want a more natural look, even with a semi-aniline leather, a lot of the tanneries will then come back and add, usually by hand, another layer of coloring to give it a more natural look. Now these sorts of leathers are really popular for families with kids, pets, messy husbands. They're gonna be more resistant to scratching, less likely to stain, and you can clean them with a wider range of cleaning products, without causing any sort of damage. And they also tend to be less expensive. And that's kinda weird if you think about it because, you know, it's more durable leather.
Why is it less expensive? Well, I'll tell you. It's because when you do a full-aniline leather, you need to select the most high end, premium hides that are impeccable in quality. Whereas a semi-aniline leather, because it goes through this corrective process, can use lower quality hides. They're still super durable but they don't have that lack of markings on them.