Ever wondered why the price tag on some leather belts is enough to buy a decent pair of boots? Well, it must be that you’re not just buying any belt, but a full-grain leather belt. When it comes down to it, all belts aren’t the same. You can easily grab a cheap one but at the risk of replacing it soon enough.
That said, are full-grain leather belts worth it? Without a doubt, they are. You’re getting premium-quality leather belts that come with no regrets. We’re talking years of use that someone else can still enjoy. So whatever the price, buy it, knowing you won’t need another one for a long time.
We bet you thought you knew about belts; wait till you get a load of this. It’s not enough to decide to get a full-grain belt; you need to know how to identify one. Plus, what makes full-grain leather better than others? This article is for all things leather and belts, so keep reading to know more.
What Is A Full Grain Leather Belt?
Full-grain is the toughest part of a cow’s hide, just below the hair, and is typically not sanded. Just so we are clear, “sanding” as used here is the process of smoothing out rough parts with the necessary tools. Sanding may sound like a good idea, but for a valuable leather belt, it reduces the density of the leather and its quality.
Full-grain leather has all the layers of the cowhide intact, and so retains its naturalness and originality. This, of course, is why you may notice some “flaws” or scars on full-grain leather.
Full-grain leather belts are made from unadulterated, super quality leather and are definitely worth every penny you spend on them.
How Thick Is Full Grain Leather?
The thickness of full grain leather depends on two factors — the way it was made and what it was made for (i.e., its purpose). Well, full-grain leather is considerably thicker than corrected leather or any other type of leather, for that matter. It is thick because it is not sanded nor buffed like other kinds of leather. Sanding thins out the leather.
Another reason why it’s so strong is that its fibers are densely-packed and have not been subjected to processes that affect its density. To understand density, just think of having 50 clothes in a space that’s meant for 20.
How Do I Know If My Belt Is Full Grain Leather?
We’ve established the fact that full-grain leather does not undergo sanding during the process of tanning. However, there are other features of a full-grain leather belt.
Knowing these features helps you tell it apart from other types of leather belts. Belts like the genuine leather belt, corrected leather belt, etc. So, here’s how to know if your belt is a full-grain leather belt:
- Dense Fibers
Since there’s no buffing or sanding but only removal of hairs, full-grain leather generally has densely-packed, fine fibers. And this density gives it a strong surface.
- “Appealing” Imperfections
Full-grain undergoes no sanding, so its surface can play canvas to slight imperfections.
These imperfections tell many-a-tale. Tales of cuts, bruises, scars, bug bites, branding marks, etc., from the cow’s experiences in the barn and out grazing. All these imperfections can be really beautiful and give each full-grain item a unique identity.
The “unsanded” surface fibers make full-grain leather belts sturdy and durable. You could get one and use it for a lifetime, getting even more than your money’s worth from it.
Since the outer layer isn’t removed, over time, it develops a patina. What’s a patina, you ask? It’s a surface color change that can be a welcome sight for sore eyes. This is a reality of the expression, “old is gold”.
How Long Will Full Grain Leather Last?
In so few words— a lifetime!
Being the best leather money can buy, full-grain leather can last for decades with the right care and proper use. It typically outlives its leather counterparts and looks better or, we can say, ages with grace.
Remember, the older it gets, the more beautiful, if well taken care of.
What Is The Most Durable Leather For Belts?
Full-grain is definitely the most durable leather for belts. No arguments here. Now that this is settled, what other types of leather exist?
Different types of leather exist. This difference is seen in different production methods, and of course, this results in different finishes. So apart from the full-grain leather, you can go for any of these types of leather belts:
Top Grain Leather
This is quite similar to the full-grain. However, it undergoes sanding and/or buffing. This process rids it of imperfections and irregularities, making it softer, of course. It also has various dyes and finishes applied to it.
The top grain is more visually appealing than the full-grain because of the sanding process. However, it isn’t as strong as the full-grain—you really can’t eat your cake and have it.
Another feature that puts top-grain in the category of high-end leather belts is its softness and flexibility.
Genuine Leather (Corrected Leather)
This is also called “corrected” leather. It gets its name from the process it goes through. It typically undergoes treatment to the surface with the sole aim of a more uniform, “corrected” appearance. Sanding takes care of surface imperfections and readies the leather for a dying (or spray painting). Plus, any other process that will give it a good final surface appearance.
You can guess without much effort that the process of sanding alters some of its fine qualities — qualities that are very present in the full-grain.
Split Grain Leather
This one here is gotten from the lower layer of the hide.
There’s the skin of the animal, and there’s the flesh, the meaty part that we eat. The skin (hide) has layers, and split-grain leather is gotten from the lowest layers of the skin. That’s why it is found somewhere between the full grain and the flesh.
Bonded leather reminds me of what happens when a meal is rummaged up from leftovers found in the freezer. That’s a good enough picture for knowing what bonded leather is. It is what we get from putting together leather scraps.
Nobody is particularly interested in the quality of the scraps. However, the scraps can be a combination of different types of leather that exist. Sadly, no matter how beautiful bonded leather looks, it is not durable, so definitely not a good bargain.
It’s kinda hard to determine which takes the award for the dreg of the leather society, split leather or bonded leather.
Will Full Grain Leather Peel?
Full Grain Leather may peel after a very long time. It also depends on how you use it. Good quality leather-like full-grain should be able to maintain an appealing appearance for a long time. Its appealing look can, however, be affected by atmospheric conditions, the degree of care and attention given to it, etc.
If you’re looking at peeled full-grain leather, you should find out how many decades it’s been in use.
If it hasn’t even gotten a two-year marker, with the best care, you probably didn’t get a full-grain. It’ll most likely be that what you have is an overpriced top grain or, worse, a beautifully polished genuine leather.
How Much Should I Pay For A Good Leather Belt?
If you’re going for the full-grain, you might want to prepare to part with $75 and above. A lot can be said about the fairness of the price of a good leather belt. And it is important knowing that you won’t settle for less than good quality.
Also, bear in mind that full-grain leather is an investment for the future. With full grain, it is better to err on the side of excess. So you want to make sure you’re getting a full-grain.
Why Do Leather Belts Split?
Splits in leather belts are largely a function of the structure and composition of the leather. Poor moisture levels also play a part, but quality takes the badge.
Belts made from shredded leather will experience embarrassing splits in no time. Belts made from leather that have a uniform structure like full-grain and top-grain experience splits far less often than their multiple-piece counterparts.
Now a full-grain leather belt, despite its top-notch quality, can experience cracks and splits when it was subjected to a poor tanning process.
As for moisture levels, you should know that the moisture reduced during tanning ought to be replaced by routine and proper care. Where this is not done, even a full-grain leather belt will experience splits and cracks. So, you want to be sure that your leather has all the moisture it needs but not too much to destroy it.
Is Top Grain Or Full Grain Leather Better?
Although top grain is top quality leather, Full-grain leather takes the gold medal.
If you’re looking for a nice polished look in addition to having your pants secure around your waist, then you want to go for the top grain. But if you want quality, durability, and sturdiness, then full grain leather belts are better.
What Makes A High-Quality Belt?
High-quality belts are a function of the process of production. A full grain definitely qualifies because it does not go through extreme procedures like sanding and/or buffing. It is as original as it can be.
What Are Cheap Belts Made Of?
Low-end belts are belts like bonded leather and split leather belts. These do not last very long — they peel and break when pressure is applied or stretched.
Cheap belts can be an option if you’re looking for a quick fix at the least possible price. But if you’re trying to pronounce the words “long-lasting”, you want to be in the company of full-grain or, at least, top grain.
How Do I Stop My Belt From Cracking?
Leather belts of all kinds are only as good as the care they receive when we’re not talking about quality. A good deal of this caregiving involves cleaning the right way and keeping the leather hydrated. Dryness will definitely cause cracking and peeling.
You also want to hang your belt in the right place. Low humidity levels will do a number on the moisture getting to the belt. This will cause dryness and, of course, brittleness. And the belt will be well on its way to peeling, cracking, and every other thing in-between.
You should also know that the quality of leather influences the cleaning method. So you might want to get expert advice on the best products for different leather types.
Is Full Grain Leather Water-Resistant?
Full-grain leather is the most water-resistant of all types of leather. However, don’t go drowning it in the sea just to see how much water it can hold down.
Generally, leather has a degree of water resistance. This means that it can come in contact with a certain amount of water without being destroyed. It is not 100% water-resistant, and it is definitely not waterproof. Too much water will destroy the leather.
You should know that certain sprays can increase a full-grain leather’s degree of resistance to water. Thus, ensuring its longevity.
How Many Belts Should A Man Own?
For the regular, “unobsessed” belt user, a sane number of belts would be three — black, brown, and nude. However, the guy looking to have a matching belt for every footwear or briefcase can go ahead and have more. But these three colors will get you through the year, guaranteed.
Belts are an accessory, a must-have for every man. From corporate to semi-formals and even casuals, the right shade of belts goes a long way to enhancing your look.
As a pro tip, the color of your belts should match your shoes. So if you’re wearing a pair of brown Chelsea boots, go with a brown leather belt.
How Long Do Leather Belts Stretch?
Belts have been known to stretch to anything from two inches to five inches. It depends on the quality and type of leather used in making the belt. The stronger the leather, the lesser the chances of stretching; the weaker the leather, the greater the chances of stretching.
Enough said. Full-grain belts are definitely worth the money. So you should get one as soon as you can. For more on stylish accessories, check out these articles: