Leather Grain Explained

Wondering what leather grain is and why it matters? And why boot companies seem to charge more for it, right? Whether it's worth it at all?

Great things to wonder! In fact, we're going to explain what you need to know about leather grain, why it's important and why a pair of full-grain leather work boots are a great investment.

What Is Leather Grain?

Leather "grain" refers to the layers of the skin of the animal. Leather, after all, is the skin of a cow, pig, calf, horse, goat or another animal that's used to make a durable textile.

Skin, as you probably know, has layers. There are three distinct layers comprised of a hard outer layer, a softer inner layer, and the connective tissues between the fat and muscles of the animal. The grain is the top two layers, and the soft layer before the skin meets flesh is called the "corium."

So, the leather grain is the two topmost layers of skin.

Why is this important?

Top Grain and Full Grain Leather

The outer layers of skin are the hardest and strongest, which are what top grain leather and full-grain leather are made of.

Top grain leather and full-grain leather are the strongest grades of leather there are. Both make for strong but supple items such as horse tack, holsters, wallets and - of course - footwear, such as handmade firefighter boots.

Quality leather items are made of full-grain or top-grain leather. Full-grain leather is about a 60-40 blend of the hard outer layer with the second layer of skin, but top grain leather is about a 50-50 blend with a bit of rough-out on the underside. Top grain is every bit as strong as full grain, however; leather goods makers often opt for it over full-grain to give their product a more uniform appearance.

Since the topmost layer of skin is literally the outer skin of the animal, it's usually subjected to a good amount of abrasion which makes it hard to find parcels of leather with a uniform appearance. Therefore, the top grain is often selected and sanded to create a consistent appearance.

However, that doesn't make it necessarily cheap in any sense; quality leather is an investment, after all.

It's the other grades of leather that are. Suede is from the softest part of the skin. So is genuine leather, which is often scrapped leather that's glued together to create sheets of material.

So, if you want to invest in a working leather item, say a pair of quality handmade work boots, you want to make sure you're investing in quality materials. Quality leather boots can, with appropriate care, last a lifetime.

boot care can make a quality pair of boots last a lifetime

Nick's Leather Boots

What sort of leather grain can you expect from a pair of handmade leather boots by Nick's?

We use full-grain leather, as we don't cut corners when it comes to materials. We ask our customers to be aware that the leather that their boots are made from will have some variations in appearance, like streaks, dimples and other marks that fashion brands would deem "imperfections" will be present in your boots.

quality grain leather comes from quality cows

Every pair of our boots is made from the same piece of hiding. We source the finest full-grain leather for working applications we can find and build them to last. Our boots are rebuildable, unlike factory work boots, so we can keep your boots in working condition for a lifetime.

When you depend on your feet for your living, you need to have footwear that can stand up to the challenge and then some. You're investing in not only your safety and comfort but also your livelihood.

If you demand the utmost in performance from your working footwear, contact us today for a consultation. We'll walk you through the fitting process and get you equipped to do your best work while wearing ours.

You can also call us at 509-483-1248.

Or you can come see us at:
6510 East Sprague Avenue Spokane, WA 99212

Our hours are:
Monday - Friday 8AM - 5:30PM PST.
Saturday 10AM - 3PM PST