When you are on the hunt for the perfect leather piece to fit your wardrobe, whether that is a belt, purse, or wallet, or even a piece of furniture to fit your new living room, you may be overwhelmed with the many different types of leather that you can choose from.
Each name from top grain, down to bonded leather is confusing and all look the same in the pictures online, so you may be asking yourself what the difference is? Top grain leather is the best quality and comes with the highest price tag. Next is full grain leather, then split leather or suede, and finally bonded leather.
If all you are doing is paying a different price for the same looking item, it may seem silly to you to choose anything but bonded leather. However, it is very important that you know the difference between the leathers so you don’t end up having to pay more money to replace your cheap leather item later. It may cost you more money at the beginning, but it will save you money in the long run.
How Is Bonded Leather Made?
The process of leather making, is important in understanding the different qualities available to you when you are purchasing a leather item. When a leather hide is taken to a tanner, the hide can be anywhere from 5 millimetres to 10 millimetres thick. The tanner’s first job is to split the leather into its different types so they can be sent off to make different items. The first and best split is the top grain split. This leather is already smooth and is sent off. The remaining leather is the flesh side, and it is rough on both sides. This is often used to make suede items by putting a false grain coating on top of it to make it look like top grain leather.
The best way to describe the way bonded leather is made is to think of a wood craftsman’s shop. As the craftsman works to make his product, whether that is a chair or a guitar, or a table, he is constantly cutting wood, shaving wood, and sanding the wood. If the craftsman were to then take the pieces of wood that fell to the ground, the shavings, and the sawdust left add chemicals to them, and press them into a new piece of wood, this would be bonded leather. Bonded leather is made from all the scraps that fall to the ground that are then pressed together and dyed to make them look like a solid piece of leather. Bonded leather is commonly found in belts, furniture, or handbags.
Just Say No
Like Nancy Reagan taught us in the 80’s, it is best to just say no to bonded leather. If you are purchasing a piece of furniture or bag that will only serve as a decoration, you might be able to get away with it. However, if you are looking for a leather item that will be used with some frequency, it is best to save your money to purchase a better quality leather product.