The Difference between Top Grain and Full Grain Leather

Customers ask us all the time, “What’s the difference between Top Grain and Full Grain Leather?” We wanted to answer that question quickly with the main reasons Full Grain Leather is better than Top Grain Leather; Durability and Beauty. And that’s also the reason we use Full Grain Leather in all of our leather goods.


Full Grain Leather is more durable than Top Grain Leather. Top Grain Leather has been sanded down to remove surface imperfections. Taking off that topmost layer of texture gives Top Grain Leather a smoother, more uniform look, sure. And it’s thinner and easier to work with. But softer, thinner leather is also more delicate. Which means your Top Grain Leather purse or wallet is more delicate, too.

See, the surface texture — also called the grain — is the toughest part of the hide. It’s built of mostly vertical fibers, which do not like to be pulled apart. Sanding down the grain exposes a layer composed mostly of horizontal fibers that pull apart more easily. Top Grain Leather just can’t resist life’s little mishaps like Full Grain Leather can. This is why we make our Leather Wallets & Billfolds, belts, purses, and other leather goods out of Full Grain Leather.


Full Grain Leather gets more beautiful with age. Unlike Top Grain Leather, Full Grain Leather has kept all its ability to absorb oils. As a result, it develops a gorgeous natural patina as you handle it, mellowing in color and suppleness as the years go by. And because the tight surface graining is intact, Full Grain Leather is fairly stain-and water-resistant. Top Grain Leather, on the other hand, requires an artificial finish to prevent stains so it can’t develop that coveted natural patina. Watch out for leather goods which require you to buy all sorts of creams to keep them looking nice.

In addition to wearing beautifully, your Full Grain Leather item will be unique. That tough top layer hasn’t been sanded off, so if your wallet was made from a bison that had a brand, it’ll still be visible. If the bison tangled with a barbed wire fence, or a coyote, and has the scars to prove it? So does your Full Grain Leather piece. Each Full Grain Leather product tells a story, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s a thing of true beauty.

Bottom line?

Top Grain Leather looks pretty and feels nice at first. But if you’re investing in a quality piece that you intend to keep for lifetime, you want the Full Grain Leather.