Leather Identification

Leather Identification

Before cleaning your leather or making a leather repair the first thing you will need to do is identify your leather type. This is a crucial part to insuring that the leather repair products will work in the most effective possible way. Please read over the following Leather Identification Guide and the identifying characteristics to select your leather type. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Aniline - Cleaning Code A

Aniline leathers are top quality natural leathers in which the actual surface grain markings of the true leather (hide) are visible. They have no protective treatments applied. Natural leathers can be classified as Natural, Pure, & Un-Protected and are usually colored with a semi transparent leather dye. Aniline finishes allow the natural leather markings to show through the Leather’s appearance. They require a high degree of preventative maintenance because they are susceptible to surface scratches and easily absorb stains. Aniline leathers require using a milder cleaning process than protected leather due to its porous nature. Aniline leather is prone to sun fading.

Identifying characteristics: Very easy to scratch; water drops will absorb and darken the color and then dry back to natural color.

Semi-Aniline - Cleaning Code A

These are aniline leathers than have a protective top coating. The natural characteristics of the leather aniline hide still shows through while offering color consistency and increase durability. A variety of finishes that may be added to the top of the leather to create a semi-aniline finish are: light pigmented color coating, clear protective top coating, wax, oil, urethane and nitrocellulose lacquer coating.

If the leather is water soluble you will need to recolor the leather with Aniline Leather Dye. If you are unable to get penetration from water, then you will have to use Leather World Dye Colorant Pigmented Coating to re-color and repair your Leather’s Finish. Wax or Oil finishes cannot be recolored.

Pigmented / Protected / Top Coated / Painted - Cleaning Code P

This is the most common leather type used in furniture, approximately 90% of the market. This is also the type of Leather that is used in most makes and models in the Auto Leather Industry. This leather has a uniform appearance and color. The leather has an intense color and a definite pattern (grain). You cannot see any natural leather markings through the top coatings, because pigmented leather has a Flexible Leather Paint coating that is applied to the surface. Your Leather is then sealed with a durable finish. Properly maintained, this finish will provide years of cleaning ability and durability.

Identifying characteristics: Uniform color and grain patterns; will not scratch easily; water drops do not absorb and will not change the leather’s color.


Can be a semi aniline or pigmented leather with multiple layers of color or tones. Often used to create hand wiped, distressed, antique, and multicolored appearances. The color layer may be very subtle or have a drastic color change. Savauge leather should have a top coat applied over the color layer for durability.

Nubuck / Suede - Cleaning Code N

These are natural Aniline leathers that have been surface brushed or buffed on the grain side of the leather creating a nap and leaving a texture similar to velvet (softest of all leathers to the touch). Usually Nubuck has a natural finish, but may have a light protective coat and a transparent leather dye for color. This process increases the leathers surface exposure making it extremely absorbent to body oils and soiling, and difficult to clean effectively.

Identifying characteristics: Very soft to the touch, will scratch or scuff very easily; water drops will absorb and darken the leather but it returns to its original color after drying.


There are two categories of Pull-Ups - Wax and Oil. Oil Pull-ups are found on aniline leathers only, giving the leather a wet oil look and feel (example: an Australian drover coat). The Wax Pull-up finish can be applied over aniline or pigmented leather. This will leave a slick gloss feel and sheen to the surface of the leather. Wax Pull-Ups can often be identified easily by lightly scratching the leather's surface and then being able to make the scratch go away by rubbing your finger back and forth over the scratched area. This creates friction that will melt the wax to cover the stain.

Bycast (Bicast)

By-cast is made from low-quality leather or leather parts processed together and a polyurethane coating is applied to the leather’s surface. This finish is commonly found in the low-end furniture market. There are many different grades of Bycast leather and we recommend referring to the manufacturer for care instructions.


Man-made fibers that are extremely fine, soft, and have excellent water resistance. These fibers are finer than a silk fiber and are made from polyester or poly-made nylon.


This product is ground-up leather particle pieces pressed together with a water-based adhesive that has a urethane or polyurethane top coat finish. A pattern is often pressed into the top coat to recreate the graining effect from natural leather. Bonded leather is very low-quality and very difficult to repair or recolor.


This is a man-made fabric of plastic and cloth. You can identify vinyl by its highly uniform grain pattern. The surface will have a slick feel to it. The backside of the vinyl is lined with a cloth/fabric backing. If you have any cracks or cuts, you can see the fabric backing (usually white in color).