What is Split Leather?


When leather is processed to turned into various products, the first step that has to happen is the leather has to be split. When a tanner first receives a hide, it could be anywhere from 5 to 10 millimeters thick. This leather is then split into the different types of leather: top grain, full grain, and split grain. The scraps that are left over are also turned into bonded leather using a lot of chemicals and pressing to combine the scraps into a solid piece of leather.

The top grain cut of the leather is the best split, and it is sent off to be dyed and used in high quality products. The remaining leather, or flesh side of the split, is then used to make split leather products or made into scraps for bonded leather products. Split leather is rough on both sides until one side is refinished and is also popularly known as suede which is used in many products.

Products Made out of Split Leather

You may not realize it, but there are many common products that are made out of split leather. One common use of split leather is in the making of leather work gloves. Split leather is a good product to make gloves out of because it has a high abrasion resistance. This means that the leather work gloves are more durable because they are able to stand up to any friction, rubbing, or wearing down. In addition, they have good flexibility in comparison to grain leather gloves that are a little bit more stiff.

Another common product that uses split leather are other types of clothing and shoes. Split leather is used to make cheaper leather clothing because it still has the leather feel to it but it is a much cheaper cut of leather. In addition, it is used to make all different types of shoes, from fancy dress shoes like Elvis’ Blue Suede Shoes, to sneakers because it breathes well.

One final common product that uses split leather is in upholstery. Split leather is often used in couches or recliners as well as car interiors. A quality piece of furniture will not use split leather for the main body of the chair that gets a lot of contact like the backs, seats, or armrests. Instead, they will use it for the outside and back of the furniture which won’t receive as much wear. In car upholstery, coated or embossed split leather is often used in luxury or lower end cars that claim to have a full leather trim. This leather trim in the doors or headrests is the lowest quality leather and the customer often pays extra for it.

Buyer Beware

If you are in the market for leather products like a leather purse, belt, or sofa that you will use on a regular basis, split leather is not the leather you want for these products. In addition, this leather is often disguised with an artificial grain coating or embossing that makes it look like real leather. While it seems to look like real leather, this coating and embossing can easily peel back to reveal the cheaper quality rough suede underneath.

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