What is aniline leather? Maybe this is your first time hearing about it. Maybe you are familiar with aniline leather but do not really know what it is. While it is a different type of leather, it is not so different from high quality like top grain. In fact, it can be hard to tell them apart from a distance. However, once you get a closer look and feel it, then you can see the difference. Knowing how to identify different types of leather is important, especially when it comes to use and care.
So the question is: how is aniline leather different from other types of leather? How do we tell them apart? And what are its different advantages and disadvantages?
What Is Aniline Leather
In order for us to know how it is different from other leather, we must first know what is aniline leather. All leather starts the same. From raw animal skin. Specifically, those that come from cows, pigs and, goats start as pure aniline leather. Accordingly, there are three main types of leather: Aniline leather, semi aniline leather, and pigmented leather. Among the three, aniline is considered as the "untouched" leather. From raw animal skin to leather, nothing is done to the material. No corrections were made to the skin. It, therefore, has the most natural form among all leather types. Making it the best type of leather available. Likewise, it is soft and gracefully supple. It can however get quite expensive.
Aniline leather also retains its natural feel. This is because real leather artisans do not apply any protective treatments or surface coating to the leather surface. It has a soft feel which is warm to the touch. It is a very breathable leather making it very comfortable to use.
What gives aniline leather its name is not the type of leather artisans use. The name comes from Aniline which is the type of dye artisans use in tanning the leather. You could say that aniline leather is not a type of leather. But a way to describe a very sensitive leather that absorbs moisture very well.
Aniline leather does not come from any animal skin. Making this type of leather requires only the highest quality of rawhide. It is also full grain leather because it still has the natural gain intact. It does have an imperfect appearance because of the natural grain. Typically some imperfections such as wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, natural marking, insect bites, and scratches are present. Over time, however, it will develop a beautiful patina.
What is Semi-Aniline Leather?
Another type of leather is semi-aniline. Both aniline leather and semi-aniline leather go through the same process. Unlike aniline, semi-aniline goes through a correcting process. During the tanning stage, the animal skin goes through some correcting. A machine grounds down the skin to give it a more even look and surface. This is the reason why you do not see many markings on semi-aniline leather.
Additionally, semi-aniline does not use a translucent dye but is dyed using a pigment. This often changes the natural look of the leather giving it more color. Leather manufacturers often apply an extra layer of coloring to make it look more natural. Furthermore, unlike aniline leather, semi-aniline leather has a thin protective coating. This coating protects the leather from wear and stains.
How Aniline Leather is Made
First things first, aniline leather uses only the highest quality raw animal skin. Typically from cows, pigs, or goats. Aniline is a natural Napa leather because of its softness.
Typically, leather starts the same. From raw animal skin, it goes through the leather-making process. The first step is preparing the raw animal hide. Some animal skin goes through the process of splitting, sanding, and buffing before proceeding to the next phase. For aniline leather, we leave it as is. After cleaning and removing any hair from the skin we proceed to the next step.
The next step is the tanning stage. This is what makes aniline leather. There are different methods of tanning leather. Some might use the vegetable tanning method or chromium tanning method. For this particular type of leather, we will use aniline or aniline dye.
It is a translucent, water-soluble synthetic dye without any insoluble pigments. The leather is first tanned normally. Then the tanned animal hide is placed in a drum together with the aniline dye. It takes a little longer to make than most leather. Unlike other dyes, aniline does not change the color of the animal skin. Therefore being able to develop its patina still. Moreover, the dyeing process brings out the natural grain and all the imperfections of the animal skin.
Semi-aniline dyed leather on the other hand is just a bit different. Aside from bringing out the natural leather quality, it also gives it a more consistent color.
Quality of Aniline Leather
It is soft and supple. Aniline leather is considered the highest quality leather. However, much of its quality is because of its demanding leather-making process. Aniline leather uses only soluble dyes. The dyeing process takes place in a large wooden drum. The animal skin soaks under the soluble dyes until it turns into a desirable color. Using soluble dyes preserves the animal skin's natural surface. It likewise preserves the skin's natural infections.
However, not all types of animal skin are for this process. Only the highest quality of animal skin is appropriate for aniline leather. This is the main reason why the quality of aniline is very high. The reason for using high-quality leather exclusively is because of their unique trait. Most high-quality leather absorbs moisture very well. If you notice, aniline leather is not very uniform in color. This is because each area of the skin absorbs moisture differently. This gives aniline leather a more genuine look because of imperfections.
Another sign of aniline leather's quality is how it feels. Without any protective layering or coating on its surface, aniline leather is able to breathe well. Something that is quite important especially for leather upholstery, leather seats, and sofas.
The Appearance of Aniline Leather
Aniline leather is beautiful. Despite the visible imperfections, many consider its appearance to be quite aesthetically pleasing. The visible scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, insect bites, and other blemishes show the growth of the animal. Because every animal lives a different life, imperfections are rather unique and vary in many ways. Aniline leather also has a more natural color to it. The colors usually derive from the natural skin color of the animal. Furthermore, aniline dye is translucent, which barely affects the color of the skin. Moreover, other than its natural color, aniline leather also develops a patina. Over time it will become more beautiful.
What is aniline leather used for?
Leather has many uses. From shoes to bags, to clothing, and leather sofa and other leather furniture. However, not all types of leather are suited for every task. Especially when it comes to aniline leather. Aniline leather is suited only for luxurious accessories because of its natural look. It is commonly used for high-end furniture, clothing, leather accessories, and other luxury goods. This type of leather is not only beautiful but strong and durable as well. Some prefer to sport aniline leather because of its great strength and durability. And rarely enough, aniline leather can also be on bicycle saddles. However, they are likely to be on cars as car seats. This is because of its breathability and softness making them comfortable to sit on.
Products Aniline Leather Is Commonly Used For
This type of excellent leather is commonly used for luxury items. Because it is incredibly breathable, we can find aniline leather mostly on car seats. Breathable leather is soft and flexible without being weak. It is therefore perfect for those who like a comfortable seat.
However fancy cars are not the only place for this leather. You may also find this leather in someone's living room. It may be in a form of a sofa, on accent chairs, recliners, or swivels. Furniture not only has to look beautiful but comfortable as well.
Other common uses for aniline leather are leather accessories and other luxury goods. They are usually high-end, great quality leather bags, briefcases, or wallets. The durability and strength of the leather are perfect for tough uses. Leather bags that are usually made of full grain leather like aniline leather are tough. They last long and do not wear and tear easily.
There are many advantages to this high-quality leather. The reason for being such a sought-after leather is because of its many great qualities. It is made of full grain leather. The layer that has the most fibers. It is strong as any leather can be. It is likewise durable because of the tightly packed leather fibers. This type of leather not only holds out on wearing and tearing but also the test of time. However, it is not only strong but soft and flexible as well. Unlike most full grain leather, aniline is easier to work and manipulate.
Of course, its appearance is also one of its great advantages. Because of the presence of natural grain, something beautiful happens. A patina develops over time as the leather absorbs body oils. Patina is beautiful and unique only to leather coming from full grain. It is something that usually gives off that vintage aesthetic. Something that attracts people over to leather greatly.
Aniline leather is not perfect. Even after all those great qualities, this leather also has its downside. One of the biggest disadvantages when it comes to full grain leathers is the price. Aniline leather is no exception. Great quality leather also comes with a great cost in manufacturing and the raw materials. Aniline leather in particular requires only the best raw hides out there. Many of these things factor into aniline leather's high price tag.
Other than its price, this type of leather also has disadvantages against the elements. The leather typically fades when in contact with direct sunlight. It also stains and marks very easily. Many therefore suggest not to use aniline leather on households with young children and pets. As much as it is a great leather, it is not invincible against the elements and kids!
How To Care For Aniline Leather
The bad news is that aniline leather easily stains, marks, and fades. The good news is, that there is a way to prevent such things from happening. The answer is proper care and maintenance. Proper and frequent care and maintenance are what keeps your leather in great condition and appearance. Not only will the leather look clean but well-nourished and strong as well. But how do you take care of aniline leather?
Taking care of aniline leather will require more effort unlike other types of leather. To prevent the leather from stains, marks, and fading you will need to apply a protective leather product. You must however need to clean the leather first every time you apply any protectants. Cleaning leather is a delicate process. You must need the right tools, the right cleaning agents, leather cleaner, and the gentlest of touch. You must also remember not to submerge the leather in water as that will ruin it. In cleaning, you will focus on removing any body oils and dirt from the surface of the leather. It is best to do this regularly. To keep the leather in its best condition, you will need to moisturize it with a good leather conditioner. This will prevent the leather from drying out and cracking.
Semi-aniline leather on the other hand is much easier to maintain. You can use water-based semi-aniline leather cleaners or a bar of gentle soap and distilled water to clean it.
Difference Between Aniline Leather and Semi-aniline Leather
When it comes to the manufacturing process, the two are almost similar. The only difference is when it comes to applying the dye. Aniline leather uses aniline or aniline dye.
A translucent, water-soluble synthetic dye without any insoluble pigments. Semi-aniline on the other hand uses a pigment to dye the leather. This gives the leather an even and uniform surface.
There is also a difference in their qualities. The semi-aniline being the inferior one. Because semi-aniline leather goes through a correcting process it will have likely lost most of the strong fibers found on the natural grain. It is not as strong nor as durable as the full aniline leather. The great thing about semi-aniline is that it does not stain as easily as full aniline leather. it is therefore kid and pet friendly. A great choice especially when you will have your leather at home.
An obvious difference between the two will always be the price tag. Aniline leather will be more expensive than semi-aniline. Its quality however justifies its costs most of the time.
Difference Between Aniline and Top Grain
The difference between the two rests on their different characteristics. Both types of leather belong at the top of the list however they differ in a few aspects.
Top grain leather is more affordable than aniline leather because of the difference in raw materials used. Aniline leather uses only the highest quality rawhides that are full grain. Top grain on the other hand uses the layer below full grain after it has been split. Aniline leather is also full of imperfections because it does not go through a correcting process. Top grain on the other hand has a more uniform appearance. Bothe are different from corrected grain leather.
When it comes to durability, top grain is superior to aniline and semi-aniline. This is because top grain typically has a polymer coating making it more durable. It also does not fade as much as aniline leather because of the coating. Top grain is also easier to maintain than full aniline leather.
Is aniline leather the same as grain leather?
No, both actually refer to different terms. Aniline leather best describes leather that has been dyed with aniline dye. It also refers to leather that is soft, soft, and easily absorbs moisture.
The natural grain on the other hand refers to the layer of the animal skin or rawhide. This layer specifically contains the most fibers that make the leather strong, durable, and most of the time, though.
Both of them are completely different terms that describe leather in a specific way. You can however describe aniline leather as having natural grain. This is because most if not all aniline leather is from full grain, which is natural grain.
Is Aniline leather good quality?
Yes, however, not only is aniline leather good quality leather, it is great quality leather. It is among the top if not the top types of leather out there. It is strong and durable yet soft and flexible. The leather is also beautiful because it shows the many imperfections of the rawhide. Aniline leather, therefore, has a unique look to it. Moreover, it gets more beautiful over time because of the developing patina.
Does aniline leather peel?
Aniline leather does not peel because the aniline dye is able to permeate the leather. It will therefore not rub off or peel. It will however slowly fade when in contact with direct sunlight, unlike semi-aniline. The major difference between the two is that semi-aniline leather has a protective coating whereas aniline leather does not.