Types of Leather, Finishes and Suggested Care

Leather Processing
The chemical process by which animal skins are turned into pliable skin is known as tanning. This takes approximately six weeks to complete and includes up to 120 steps.

Tanning includes curing, preserving, soaking and dehairing the raw skins, cleaning the flesh side (suede side) by soaking in a salt solution, wringing to remove excess moisture, splitting, shaving, dyeing, drying, conditioning, buffing, finishing, measuring and grading the skin.

A variety of finishes are used to enhance the natural beauty of leather. Aniline finish is like staining wood allowing the natural grain to shine through, pigmenting is like painting – completely covering the natural surface. Nubuck is the top or grain side of the leather which has been buffed with a fine sand paper to give it that velvety appearance.

The most common finishes are aniline, pigmented, patent, metallic, oily, waxy, suede and nubuck.

The manufacturers select leather of a quality standard. When leather is cut, special precautions are taken to minimise damage and waste. The leather is then assembled and all the pieces are again inspected for quality.

Leather permits the free flow of air and moisture, making it an ideal material for footwear. Because of the special nature of leather, it is most important that you receive product care information when making your purchase.

Types of Leather

Animal hides have natural markings or flaws which are a guarantee that the leather is genuine.

When leather has been cleaned and treated, it is split in half.
1. Top Grain
Outside layer, the best and strongest section which shows the natural leather surface, often referred to as full grain.
2. Split Leather
Inside section of hide, it does not have the durability of top grain and is less expensive.

Types of Leather Produced
Hide- A heavy leather tanned from cow hide. Used in mens working shoes and industrial footwear.
Calf- Leather from a small bovine animal. Fairly thin, high quality leather with a fine grain appearance: light weight and supple for better class shoes.
Buffalo- Distinctive rough grain.
Kid- Young goat leather from the skin of a young goat. Fine grain, firm texture and elegant appearance.
Kangaroo- Soft, light and strong: very durable and flexible.
Sheep- Two groups 
1. Wool sheep Leather. 
2. ‘Grease sheep’ – spongy and less durable
Pig- Shows the grain of strong pig bristles.
Full Grain- The natural outer surface or grain portion of leather.
Grain- The outer surface of leather produced by any special finishing or embossing.

Leather Finishes and Suggested Care

NAPPA – Full grain leather drummed to give a soft and comfortable feel. Use Zorbel to clean and condition.

SUEDE – Flesh side of leather that is buffed and Brushed. Can be made from any of the leathers, Has the nap raised by a scaping process to bring up a fine velvet like finish.

NUBUCK – Grain or smooth side of leather, buffed with an abrasive action giving a velvety surface finish.
Suede and nubuck are similar so Joseph Lyddy use similar products to treat them. To help look after suede and nubuck you must waterproof first, with Waterproofer. By doing this you will provide protection from water and stain marks, making the shoe or garment water repellent. It is recommended to repeat this procedure with every clean. When a nubuck or suede shoe has been neglected or is really dirty, you can use Joseph Lyddy Glycerine Saddle Soap. The whole shoe must be shampooed. Firstly, wet the shoe all over. Apply the shampoo or soap lightly onto the surface and using a soft shoe brush in a circular movement work in the shampoo, then rinse well. Let the shoe dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat. When the shoe is dry brush with a Suede and Nubuck Brush or Wire Suede Brush then apply either Water & Stain Protector or Waterproofer.

ANILINE – Leathers treated with a clear aniline dye and wax finish to allow the color and natural grain pattern to show through. This process gives a very natural appearance to high grade shoes.

SEMI ANILINE – Transparent dyeing with additional fine spraying with pigment color to equalise any irregularities.

REPTILES – The skins of other animals and reptiles are used in minor quantities. To care for these leathers you should use the products recommended for the care of aniline and semi – aniline leather. Care Products – Zorbel to clean and condition. Water and Stain Protector or Waterproofer to waterproof.

EMBOSSED – Raised pattern printed on to full grain or nubuck leather.

FULL GRAIN: refer to the care products for nappa.

NUBUCK: refer to care products for nubuck.

OILY – Mainly calf skin, where oil is applied during manufacture.
Care Products – Water and Stain Protector or Waterproofer.  Zorbel should be used to re-oil the shoes. Joseph Lyddy Dubbin is also suitable but may darken some leathers.

OILY NUBUCK – The basic nubuck product with heavy oiling. Care Products – Waterproofer or Water & Stain Protector. Zorbel should be used to re oil the shoes. Do not buff footwear.

PATENT, PLASTIC, POROMERIC OR “WET LOOK” UPPERS – Patent leathers have a surface coating of PVC or polyurethane to give a very high gloss finish. The treatment is used for high fashion footwear, but has the disadvantage of reducing the ability of leather to breathe and release perspiration. Care Products – Remove soiling by wiping with a damp cloth and Joseph Lyddy Glycerine Saddle Soap. To give added brightness apply Zorbel.

RUBBED – Leather that has been buffed with a sealing finish that gives a natural rugged look. Care Products – Waterproofer or Water & Stain Protector and Zorbel to clean and condition.

Leather Finishes and Suggested Care

NAPPA – Full grain leather drummed to give a soft and comfortable feel. Use Zorbel to clean and condition.

SUEDE – Flesh side of leather that is buffed and brushed.

NUBUCK – Grain or smooth side of leather, buffed with an abrasive action giving a velvety surface finish.

Suede and nubuck are similar so Joseph Lyddy use similar products to treat them. To help look after suede and nubuck you must waterproof first, with Waterproofer. By doing this you will provide protection from water and stain marks, making the shoe or garment water repellent. It is recommended to repeat this procedure with every clean. When a nubuck or suede shoe has been neglected or is really dirty, you can use Joseph Lyddy Glycerine Saddle Soap. The whole shoe must be shampooed. Firstly, wet the shoe all over. Apply the shampoo or soap lightly onto the surface and using a soft shoe brush in a circular movement work in the shampoo, then rinse well. Let the shoe dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat. When the shoe is dry brush with a Suede and Nubuck Brush or Wire Suede Brush then apply either Water & Stain Protector or Waterproofer.

ANILINE – Leathers treated with a clear aniline dye and wax finish to allow the color and natural grain pattern to show through. This process gives a very natural appearance to high grade shoes.
SEMI ANILINE – Transparent dyeing with additional fine spraying with pigment color to equalise any irregularities.

REPTILES – The skins of other animals and reptiles are used in minor quantities. To care for these leathers you should use the products recommended for the care of aniline and semi – aniline leather.

Care Products – Zorbel to clean and condition. Water and Stain Protector or Waterproofer to waterproof.

EMBOSSED – Raised pattern printed on to full grain or nubuck leather. 
FULL GRAIN: refer to the care products for nappa. 
NUBUCK: refer to care products for nubuck.

METALLIC – Coated leather: a foil is pressed onto leather as in pewter, silver, gold and bronze.
Care Products – Metallic shoes are sensitive to water and it is important to lightly waterproof with Water and Stain Protector or Waterproofer. This procedure should be repeated regularly.

OILY – Mainly calf skin, where oil is applied during manufacture.
Care Products – Water and Stain Protector or Waterproofer. Zorbel should be used to re-oil the shoes. Joseph Lyddy Dubbin is also suitable but may darken some leathers.

OILY NUBUCK – The basic nubuck product with heavy oiling.
Care Products – Waterproofer or Water & Stain Protector. Zorbel should be used to re oil the shoes. (Do not buff footwear) Use Suede and Nubuck Brush to lift pile.

PATENT, PLASTIC, POROMERIC OR “WET LOOK” UPPERS –
Patent leathers have a surface coating of PVC or polyurethane to give a very high gloss finish. The treatment is used for high fashion footwear, but has the disadvantage of reducing the ability of leather to breathe and release perspiration.
Care Products – Remove soiling by wiping with a damp cloth and Joseph Lyddy Glycerine Saddle Soap. To give added brightness apply Zorbel.

RUBBED – Leather that has been buffed with a sealing finish that gives a natural rugged look. Care Products – Waterproofer or Water & Stain Protector and Zorbel to clean and condition.



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