Understanding The Different Types of Leather

October 03, 2020 2 Comments

Understanding The Different Types of Leather

Today, we will talk about different types of materials that car floor mats are made from, in particular luxury floor mats. There are many different types and qualities of leather and understanding the differences can help you make a more informed decision about the types of accessories you choose to put in your car.


To be clear, vinyl isn’t a type of leather, it’s a plastic material. It is often used as a leather substitute and is found in many products that we interact with everyday, and it is the second largest selling plastic in the world.

Vinyl is a synthetic man-made material that is made by processing chlorine and ethylene - which is found in crude oil. Both substances combined make Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), more commonly known as vinyl. It is not a natural substance and it is inexpensive to make. Because of its cost efficiency and versatility, vinyl is used across many industries - including many wire and cable products, the construction industry (especially in vinyl flooring and siding), medical devices, and many more products.

While vinyl or PVC leather is a durable material that is excellent for many applications, it is generally not considered a luxury material, because it does not provide the same feel, quality, or smell as natural leather.

Now let's get into the differences between leather types that come from a cow. It all starts on the farm, until the leather is cured, tanned, and crafted into a final product. The tanning process is necessary because if the raw hide is not tanned, it will rot and putrefy. The tanning process stabilizes the protein of the raw hide and preparing it for it’s final application. If you are interested, you can read more about the tanning process here.

In a nutshell, there are three different “grades” of leather that you will hear most often in the fashion industry. A low grade leather typically has been split from the hide and the bottom portion that is the least durable is used, rather than the top part of the hide, which is the most durable and highest grade. Another type of low grade leather is bonded leather which consists of many leather scraps bonded together.

Genuine Leather

Although there are many misconceptions about the term, genuine leather simply means that the leather used in a product is real and from a cow hide. That’s it. It is an intentionally vague term and - generally speaking - if a company labels a product as made with genuine leather, it is most likely made with a low grade leather. These are commonly used to make belts and bags. Although at first glance it may be hard to tell the difference between genuine leather and higher grades of leather, over time the quality and durability does show.

Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather describes leather that nothing has had nothing done to alter the outermost layer of the cow hide after the tanning process. Full grain leather shows the maximum amount of natural characteristics of the animal, is very high grade, and is very durable. This type of leather is used in many high end accessories including car upholsteries, bags, belts, and holsters - and flaunts imperfections of the material such as scratches as part of the design. One of my favorite bags is made from a full grain leather. It looks great, providing a rugged but stylish look.

Top Grain Leather


High-end products that require a more perfect appearance or finish are made from top grain leather, also known as corrected grain leather. Top grain leather undergoes a light buffing process to better absorb dye used to color the leather and minimize the appearance of blemishes and natural markings on the surface of the leather. Full grain and top grain leather are both in the top tier of leather grades that are made from the top cut of the hide, they are just used to make different styles of consumer goods.

Genuine, Top-Grain, and Full-Grain Leather are the three terms you will hear the most when researching the different types of leather. But what is automotive leather?

Automotive Leather

Unlike leather used in your luggage or jackets, leather used in the interior of your car needs to be durable enough to resist stains and fading - and to survive your body rubbing against the material every time you get in and out of your car - whether that is on your seats or on the floor well of your vehicle. That’s why car manufacturers use special automotive hides - which are thicker and endure additional tanning to further enhance their feel and durability.

In order to produce the most spectacular-looking floor mat that minimizes imperfections and has maximum durability, all Beverly Hills Motoring Leather Floor Mats are made with top grain automotive cow hides sourced directly from Italy. Using automotive hides allows us to create a timeless product that last years and is waterproof, non-slip, and very easy to clean - just like leather seats from luxury car manufacturers. We take pride in our product that we handcraft for our customers and the quality certainly shows!

2 Responses

Frank DeCarlo DeCarlo
Frank DeCarlo DeCarlo

September 16, 2019

love the raparound

Mary Lynn Walker
Mary Lynn Walker

June 17, 2019

That is very interesting and informative.

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