Full Grain Vs. Top Grain Leather: How They Differ

If you once bought or are considering buying leather items, such as a leather wallet, you must’ve encountered various types of leather. That’s when you may have gotten confused with two popular ones — full grain leather and top grain leather. Have you ever wondered what’s the difference? Sadly, many customers have no idea about it. Don’t worry! This article is here to help you learn their differences and decide which one is right for you!


What Is Full Grain Leather?

Full grain leather is known as the best type of leather. It keeps the whole grain layer, including all the natural marks and flaws of the hide. This leather is not sanded or buffed, so it stays thick and strong. Because it is high quality and natural, it can be harder to work with and often costs more.


What Is Top Grain Leather?

Top grain leather is the second-best type of leather, right after full grain leather. It is made by sanding or buffing the top layer of the hide. This process removes flaws and gives a smooth, even finish. Because of this treatment, top grain leather becomes a bit thinner and easier for manufacturers to work with. It is more flexible for making different products but loses some durability.

Shop top grain leather wallets.


Are Full Grain and Top Grain Leather Real Leather?

Yes, both full grain leather and top grain leather are real leather. They are made from the top layer of the hide and offer excellent quality. However, their processing methods and characteristics differ, which can impact their appearance, aging, durability, price, maintenance, etc.


What Makes Full Grain Leather and Top Grain Leather Different?

Their Appearance Varies

Full grain leather keeps the natural texture and marks of the hide, giving it a unique and real look. It shows all the features of the animal's skin, including any flaws. This makes each piece of full grain leather unique, perfect for those who like a rustic and natural style.

In contrast, top grain leather has a more polished and even look. This is achieved by sanding the leather to remove natural flaws and create a smooth surface. If you prefer a sleek and smooth finish, top grain leather is a great choice. This consistent look is often desired in high-end products where uniformity is important.

They Age Differently

Full grain leather gets a rich patina over time. This natural shine makes the leather more beautiful and unique as it ages. The aging process adds character, making full grain leather items more attractive over the years. This is why full grain leather products are often seen as heirloom pieces.

On the other hand, top grain leather does not develop a patina. It keeps its original look for a longer time, which is good for those who like their leather to look new and flawless. However, this means top grain leather misses out on the unique aging process that many leather fans love.

Full Grain Leather Is Slightly More Durable

Full grain leather is famous for its durability. It looks great even after years of use. The natural grain makes it strong and resistant to damage. Full grain leather is perfect for items like bags, belts, and furniture that get heavy use.

Top grain leather is a bit less durable than full grain leather. The sanding process that smooths top grain leather also makes it thinner and less resistant to damage. However, top grain leather is still strong and reliable. With proper care, it can last a lifetime.

Full Grain Leather Costs More

Full grain leather costs more than top grain leather. The higher price is because of its better quality and minimal processing. Full grain leather keeps the entire grain structure, including imperfections, needing less treatment and finishing. This makes it more natural and durable but also more expensive.

On the other hand, top grain leather is more affordable. The sanding and finishing processes allow manufacturers to use hides that might not be suitable for full grain leather. This makes top grain leather a popular choice for those wanting good quality leather without spending too much.

Top Grain Leather Needs Less Maintenance and Care

Both types of leather need proper care to stay beautiful, but top grain leather is generally easier to clean and maintain. Its smooth surface resists dirt and stains, which can be wiped away with a damp cloth. This easy upkeep is a big plus for everyday items like handbags and furniture.

Full grain leather, however, needs regular conditioning to stay soft and prevent drying out. Its porous surface can absorb oils and stains more easily, adding to its patina, but also needing more careful maintenance. Regular cleaning and conditioning are essential to keep full grain leather looking its best.

Full Grain Leather Is More Breathable

Full grain leather is more breathable than top grain leather. It can wick away moisture, keeping the leather dry and less likely to develop odors. This breathability is great for items like wallets and shoes that are close to your body.

Top grain leather is less breathable because of the sanding and finishing it undergoes. While it's still comfortable and high-quality, it doesn't control moisture, and it is not as good as full grain leather.

Top Grain Leather Is More Flexible

Full grain leather is usually stiffer at first but becomes more flexible and comfortable with use. Its natural grain structure makes it strong and durable, but it can take some time to break in.

Top grain leather is typically thinner and more pliable than full grain leather. This makes it easier to work with for items like wallets and handbags. Its flexibility also makes it comfortable to use right away.

Top Grain Leather Is More Resistant to Stains

Top grain leather, with its smooth surface, is more resistant to stains and easier to clean than full grain leather. This makes it a great choice for items prone to spills and stains, like handbags and upholstery.

Full grain leather can absorb oils and stains more easily because of its porous surface. While this adds to its patina and character, it also requires more careful maintenance. Regular cleaning and conditioning are necessary to prevent stains from setting in.


Which Is Better? Top Grain or Full Grain?

Check the below table for a quick comparison between full grain leather and top grain leather.


Full Grain Leather

Top Grain Leather


Natural texture and markings

Polished and uniform


Develops a rich patina over time

Maintains original appearance longer


Most durable, withstands years of use

Durable but slightly less so than full grain


More expensive due to superior quality

More affordable

Maintenance and Care

Needs regular conditioning

Easier to clean and maintain


More breathable, wicks away moisture

Less breathable


Stiffer initially, becomes flexible with use

More flexible from the start

Resistance to Stains

Absorbs oils and stains more easily, but requires conditioning

More resistant to stains

Whether top grain leather or full grain leather is better is up to you. Full grain leather is the best choice if you want something durable, naturally beautiful, and that develops a patina over time. Top grain leather is a great option if you prefer a smooth look, more flexibility, and less upkeep.


What Type of Leather Is Used for Wallets at Zitahli?

At Zitahli, we aspire to infuse modernity, fashion, and a sense of the extraordinary into our customers' lives through our men’s essentials. We believe that our products are more than just accessories; they are life partners, inspiring our customers to embrace a fresher and more exciting lifestyle. Zitahli’s men’s leather wallets are designed to be slim, compact, durable, and modern to fit most of today’s scenarios. We provide our customers with premium top grain leather because of its unique features that perfectly match these requirements!



How to tell if leather is full grain? 

Full grain leather has a natural, unaltered surface with visible imperfections and pores. It feels supple and has a rich, complex texture. The surface is typically less shiny than lower-quality leather.

How to tell if leather is top grain? 

Top grain leather has a more uniform appearance, as its surface layer is sanded and treated to remove imperfections. It often feels smoother and more flexible than full grain leather but lacks its unique texture and durability.

Which leather is best for wallets? 

Full grain leather is the best choice for wallets due to its durability, strength, and natural appearance. It ages well, developing a unique patina over time, making it ideal for everyday use.

How many types of leather are there? 

There are four main types of leather: full grain, top grain, genuine leather, and bonded leather. Each type varies in quality, durability, and appearance.

Is 100% leather the same as genuine leather? 

No, 100% leather, or real leather, true leather, simply indicates that the material is made from leather, but it doesn't specify the quality. Genuine leather is a specific grade, often considered lower quality than full grain or top grain leather.