There are various types of leather used in upholstery, rug borders, clothing, airplane and car seats and other items. The most common is Protected/Pigmented/Top Grained, or Top Coated Leather. This is the most durable and easiest to care for. It has a very thin coating over the surface, which seals the leather and prevents water or liquids from soaking into the leather. If a small droplet of water is placed onto the surface of the leather, it will immediately "bead up". This method will quickly identify Top Grained Leather.

Aniline (NuBuck, Naked, Suede) has no surface coating. This permits liquids, dirt, oils and other foreign matter to be quickly absorbed into the leather. This type of leather requires a different method of cleaning and care, in comparison, to Top Coated Leather. The easiest method to determine this type of leather is to place a small droplet of water onto the surface of the leather. If the water is immediately absorbed into the leather, creating a "dark" spot, then you have identified Aniline type leather.

Some manufacturers provide a tag that describes the type of leather that the furniture was upholstered with or a color swatch beneath a cushion which may be helpful for identification and color matches.