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Before you make the decision to buy leather, discover in this article what split leather is.

Split leather definition

Split leather is defined as the underside of the skin which has been through a splitting process. The upper side, called full grain leather, is the most sought after. Split leather, also called the flesh side, is what is left of the leather after the splitting process.

After splitting, the collagen fibers on the flesh side are looser and no longer attached to hair follicles. The underside therefore has a weaker structure compared to the full grain side: this explains why split leather does not have the same physical aspect as full grain.

This type of leather has less resistance and durability, it is therefore not the most noble part of the hide and is of course more affordable. It has similar characteristics to a corrected grain leather but is more limited when it comes to the final aspect.

In order to manufacture split leather, you have to start with thick hides as they will be split in two. Most of the time, this procedure will be applied to bovine hides (sometimes, but rarely, split buffalo leather can also be found). Tanneries du Puy choose not to manufacture split leather as calf skin is not thick enough; the lower side obtained through splitting the calf leather goes on to a recycling process.

Most basic sofas are made out of bovine split leather, making them more affordable while still being made of the noble material that is leather. Most car interiors are also made of split leather.

As this type of leather is more fragile, a protective film is applied using nourishing agents. A grain is then created using a printing press, this process can give the split leather various aspects such as a natural grain for example.

Advantages and disadvantages of split leather

One of the main advantages is its price: split leather is not full grain; its price is therefore lower. Another advantage of using split leather is the fact that all parts of the hide are used, even the less noble parts.

The main disadvantages are of course a lower quality and durability.

On top of this, using several agents to create the illusion of a full grain leather often gives a rigid and varnished look and feel.

The use of split leather

Split leather is often used for automobile upholstery. Entry level car models have to limit costs: split leather is a way of offering a leather interior despite budget restrictions. Split leather also allows manufacturers to multiply volumes and meet the markets expectations.

Cars are therefore often fitted out with split leather, sometimes even a split leather mixed with synthetic leather (TEP).

Split leather is also very often used in furnishing, mostly to create a robust seating for chairs, armchairs and sofas.

The use of leather is regulated on French territory. All leather must be identified according to strict rules using pictograms such as the following:

Leather labelling

Example n°1: Shoe labelling

Example n°2: Leather goods labelling

How to preserve split leather

We would advise not to soften split leather as the main purpose of this type of leather is to be robust and thick. 

Its maintenance can be done simply with a sponge, water and soap.

It is best to avoid all solvents as they will attack the protection resins and the leather.

It is also advised to avoid using any abrasive equipment such as brushes and abrasive products that can remove the split leather finishings.

We recommend applying a waterproofing product (spray can format for example) which will protect the split leather from liquids.

Full grain leather generally has to be hydrated on a regular basis, this is not recommended for split leather; the split is very thick, hydration is therefore difficult. There is no point in applying wax either.

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