The Difference Between Full-Grain and Top-Grain Leather

Vintage Leather Sydney

Learning about the different types of leather may be confusing for those who are new to its many nuances. Top-grain leather, for instance, does not actually consist of the top layer of the hide. Also, genuine leather is not necessarily the best type there is on the market.

Out of the many choices available, the four main types that are widely used today include full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, and bonded-grain leather. Although they may seem entirely the same to the untrained, they have different finishes, textures, life expectancies, levels of durability, and maintenance needs.  

This guide, in particular, will tackle the two highest-quality and best-grade leathers. These are the full-grain and top-grain varieties. These two are hailed for their unique and timeless look, as well as their ability to suit any style and use. 

Without further ado, here is a comparison guide between full-grain and top-grain leather: 

Full-Grain Leather 

Full-grain leather is the most high-quality and high-grade leather available on the market. It comes from the uppermost layer of the animal’s hide, so it features unique grains and patterns that make it very attractive. 

It is relatively expensive because only about 1 to 13 per cent of all cowhide can be classified as full-grain. It would also need exceptional artisan skills to make it look its best, as it is particularly challenging to work with. 

Full-grain leather must have a fully intact grain. It should not undergo any sanding, buffing, and removal of its natural imperfections. It does not have the best durability as there are no processes done on it, which is why most bags made from this type of leather develop a natural patina over time. 

Pros of Full-Grain leather: 

● Unique 

● High quality, high grade

● Wear out-free

● Long-lasting

Cons of Full-Grain Leather: 

● Most expensive 

● Develops natural patina

● Low durability, strength, and breathability

Top-Grain Leather 

Top grain leather comes right after the full-grain leather when it comes to quality. It is the material commonly used for high-end leather bags like a leather satchel, handbag, and certain passport wallets. Basically, it is full-grain leather that has undergone corrections, sanding, buffing, and removal of natural imperfections. Since it has undergone processes, it is typically easier to craft. 

The only downside with that is it loses its uniqueness. However, many people considering this to be a good trade-off.  

Pros of Top-Grain Leather: 

● Has a flawless finish 

● Stretchable

● Does not develop a natural patina

● Stain-proof

Cons of top-grain leather: 

● More affordable 

● Thinner

● Low breathability


Two of the best quality and best grades of leather are the full-grain and top-grain leather. Basically, top-grain leather is full-grain leather that undergoes several processes to achieve a more finished look and flawless feel. 

Between the two, full-grain leather is more unique. This is due to the fact that it is manufactured as it is, leaving its natural features untouched. The downside is it is not as durable and resistant to normal wear and stans, as well as its relatively higher price point. 

In any case, know that you’ll be making a quality purchase should you choose either type of leather. Now that you know how they are different, you can decide which one suits you best. 

If you are looking for a vintage leather messenger bag or a leather satchel in Australia, check out our online shop today. Our products are hand-crafted by artisans, so you can be assured of durable and stylish leather pieces. Leave us a message, and we will be glad to assist you! 



Vintage Leather takes great pride in introducing its range of duffle bags that last a lifetime. Capsule shaped large capacity bags come packed with Zip-top closures, side pockets, and twin handles. Only the top of the line leather is used that makes the duffle durable and robust. Get yours if you are planning to travel soon.

** Note: The cleaning and leather care tips provided here are general suggestions. It's crucial to consider the specific type of leather and the individual item. For personalised guidance and to address specific concerns, always consult with a professional or refer to manufacturer recommendations. The information offered here is for informational purposes only and may not be suitable for all situations.