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Aniline leather is the most natural looking, with natural surface visible, but is less resistant to soiling. Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance.

Semi-aniline leather is somewhere in-between on both counts, having a light surface coating . The leather may or may not be aniline dyed. Sometimes the pigments are just applied to a main crust of a some color and in that case the leather is not dyed all the way through. But usually is keeping to the natural look and surface. Semi-aniline leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance.

Pigmented (protected) leather is the most durable but is less natural in appearance, having a polymer coating . Pigmented Leather as the most durable is used in the majority of furniture upholstery and almost all car upholstery. The durability is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments.

The surface coating allows the manufacturer more control over the properties of the leather, e.g. resistance to scuffing or fading.

The thickness of the surface coating can vary but if the mean thickness is more than 0.15mm then the product can't be sold as leather in the United Kingdom due to consumer protection legislation.

The grain surface is left intact before applying the surface coating. Corrected grain pigmented leather The grain surface is abraded to remove imperfections before the surface coating is applied. A decorative grain pattern is then embossed into the surface.

Finished split leather The middle or lower section of a hide with a polymer coating applied and embossed to mimic a grain leather. Finished splits should only be used in low stress applications because they are weaker than grain leather.

Antique grain (two-tone or rub-off) A special surface effect has been created to mimic the unique 'worn' appearance of traditional leathers. This is achieved by applying a contrasting top-coat which is applied unevenly or partially rubbed off to reveal a paler underlying colour.