What is Split Leather?

Split leather is a type of leather made from the lower layers of a hide, split off from the upper, more valuable layers.


Split leather is generated using the layers of a hide that remain after the top-grain, the highest quality part of the hide, has been removed. It's essentially the byproduct of creating premium leather goods, lying beneath the top layers of the skin. Because these bottom layers lack the same natural grain as the top layers, split leather usually receives an artificial grain pattern through embossing or other surface treatments to simulate the texture of full-grain leather.

This type of leather is more affordable and still offers durability, making it a popular choice for those on a budget who still desire the look and feel of leather in their furniture and other interior design elements. However, it's important to note that split leather doesn't possess the same strength, nor does it develop the same patina as full-grain leather over time. It's often used in applications where the softer feel and less expensive cost are preferable, such as in the production of leather sofas, bags, and shoes.

Care and maintenance for split leather are similar to other types of leather, involving regular cleaning and conditioning to maintain its appearance and prolong its lifespan. Nonetheless, being more susceptible to damage from spills and sharp objects, split leather requires careful handling.


In interior design, split leather is often employed in creating furniture that balances cost and aesthetic appeal. For example, it's a popular material for the seating surfaces of couches, chairs, and ottomans where the demand for durable, yet affordable, leather is high. Split leather can also be found in the form of decorative elements and accessories, offering a way to incorporate the luxurious texture of leather into a space without a hefty price tag.


  • How does split leather differ from full-grain leather?

    Split leather differs from full-grain leather in that it comes from the lower layers of a hide, below the top layers that feature the natural grain. This makes it less durable and without the same natural beauty or aging qualities as full-grain leather, but it is more affordable and still offers a similar aesthetic after surface treatments.

  • Can split leather be treated to look like full-grain leather?

    Yes, split leather often receives surface treatments, such as embossing, to simulate the appearance of the natural grain found in full-grain leather. These treatments help achieve a more desirable texture and mimic the look of higher-quality leather.

  • Is split leather suitable for all types of furniture?

    While split leather can be used for a variety of furniture types, it is most suitable for applications where a softer feel and lower cost are preferred. It might not be the best choice for furniture pieces that are subject to heavy use or require high durability.

Practical Application

When choosing split leather for furniture or other interior design elements, consider the usage and location of the item. Split leather is ideal for places with moderate use or where aesthetics play a bigger role than durability. To maintain its appearance, clean and condition the leather regularly, and protect it from sharp objects and direct sunlight. For those looking for the leather look on a budget, split leather provides a cost-effective yet attractive option.