What is Split Leather?
Black Split Leather With A Coating
Split Leather is created from the corium that’s left once the top grain has been split from the hide, this is known as the drop split, with thicker hides this can be further split into a middle split and flesh split.
Split leather is used on bi cast leather giving it a backing to the balance of the manmade material. This is where the fine split is bonded to the reverse of bi cast leather.
Cow leather is mainly used for splitting as it’s between 5mm and 10mm in thickness, this allows the hides to be split several times, but caution has to be used when splitting hides as they are done while wet and the water content can cause issues as it can be thicker in places due to the water content, so the splitting machine has to be adjusted to take this into account.
Split leather is used for suede leather also and this is buffed and sanded on the top side to create the suede finish.
Split leather does not have the same qualities as top grain leather, splits can be coated to look like grain or even an embossing of grain is put in the split and then this is coated, almost like placing a veneer on wood.
Split leathers are commonly used on sofas, and some higher end sofas use split leathers on the sides and backs of sofas. Splits can be easily torn, whereas a top grain leather is almost impossible to tear by hand. Splits can easily be torn by hand by pulling the skin apart. Always ask the salesperson to confirm in writing if the leather is top grain or a split this gives you reassurance for the future if things happen to go wrong with your leather sofa.
A lot of car manufacturers are using split leathers today on steering wheels and door trims, when people are looking to purchase vehicles they see a smooth leather and believe this to be a top grain leather, when it’s just a coated split leather, always ask for this to be confirmed in writing when purchasing a vehicle.
Leathers that are splits can be coated with a paint and PU finish, but they feel colder and are prone to cracking and peeling.
Split Leather Cracking
The picture below shows what can happen to split leathers once the top surface coating that’s applied has been damaged or removed.
Split Leather Surface Coating Removed