The surface of texture leather can add a lot to how it looks and how it performs. Pebbled leather looks great and performs well.
Pebbled leather is a term used to describe leather that has a raised, pebble-shaped texture applied to the surface. It can be on natural, or faux leather. The pebbled texture adds visual appeal while also making the leather more scratch and abrasion resistant. Pebble leather is used in a variety of leather goods.
It’s great to have a leather material available that can look great after extended use. Let’s explore what makes pebbled leather so useful.
What is Pebbled Leather?
Pebbled leather, also referred to as pebble leather, is a term that refers to leather with a particular type of textured surface. The surface is pressed with little rounded, raised areas, or bumps. This gives it the look of tiny little pebbles grouped together.
The texture can be very pleasant, and is often made in soft leathers. Since it creates raised areas on the surface, the leather is less prone to scratching and marks from abrasions. Also, since the pebble pattern is often random in appearance, any scratches are typically less noticeable.
The pebbled surface can be found on both natural leathers, as well as on faux and vegan leathers. On natural leather, sometimes the hides have marks or flaws in the surface that make them unsuitable for use in fine, finished leather goods. The leather is still strong.
Applying pebbling to the surface helps to hide these flaws and turn it into a very usable, and functional piece. Natural hides used for pebbled leather can either be full grain (best, thickest part of the original hide), or split leather (original hide split into several thin layers to maximize the amount of finished product).
Since it is just stamped into the surface, it is easy enough to add this treatment to any type of leather. Pebbled leather is very common, and found in use on many types of leather goods. Some popular ones include handbags, briefcases, travel bags, luggage, backpacks, boots, shoes, clothing, and upholstery.
Is Pebbled Leather More Durable?
Natural grain pebbled leather, that is real leather with a pebble grain pressed into it, is generally very durable. It has the strength qualities of real leather. When well cared-for, it can last decades. It also stands up well to daily use. The pebbled surface will help hide some scuffs and scratches as well. When compared to smooth, natural leather, they both are good quality and durable. The Pebble leather will just show the scratches less easily, since the surface has a random, textured pattern on it.
When considering faux pebbled leather, durability will mostly be determined by the type of materials it’s made from (usually plastic) and what purpose it is being used for. For example high-use upholstery in public transportation such as buses, or is it a piece of clothing that will be work a few times a year.
Generally, faux and vegan leathers are made with plastics, which are less durable than natural leather. So while they come in pebbled leather styles, faux leathers wear more quickly, are not as strong, and not as durable as natural leather. If comparing faux pebbled leather to smooth faux leather, the pebbled version will generally hide scratches more easily while being a little more resistant to abrasion and scuff marks.
Is Pebble Leather Waterproof?
Some Pebble leather is waterproof. Generally, if it is a faux pebble leather, it is made from plastic and or has a protective plastic finish. These leathers would be highly water resistant, or even waterproof.
Pebble leather that is made from natural, unfinished leather, is not waterproof. The surface of natural leather will generally absorb water, sometime staining it.
How is Pebbled Leather Made?
The production process for natural pebbled leather varies from that used to make faux pebbled leather. Let’s take a look into each.
How Natural Pebbled Leather is Made
These steps are how natural leather is made with a pebbled surface.
Step 1: Tanning
The leather to be used is prepared. This involves all the steps in the leather tanning process to make it ready for commercial use. Generally, calfskin or cowskin hides are used. A natural, vegetable tanning process can utilized to produce a quality leather. Or Chrome tanning can be used to produce a very soft, supple leather.
Step 2: Dyeing
Once tanned, the leather is dyed to introduce one of many vibrant colors. Often, colors can be signature colors of brands. They might vary by year, or by season. Colors can also be the preference of the leather worker. Many tones, variations, and dye types are used in this step.
Step 3: Pressing
Once dyed, the leather is now run through machines that have large, metal plates. The plates are etched in reverse with the pebble pattern. This is so when they pass the pattern into a material, it will look as desired. Think of this like the dies used to make coins, they’re cut in reverse, so when they strike the metal, a properly-oriented coin surface comes out.
The pebbled pattern is a textured, rounded, random design. The plates, with tremendous force, are then pressed into the leather, leaving its permanent shape in the material.
Step 4: Finishing
Now that we have a colored, and textured leather, it needs to be finished. This is where some of the great qualities of different leather finishes are added. Usually, a clear, protective finish is applied. The finish helps to protect the leather underneath, and also leaves a surface that is scratch and water resistant.
Other finishes or layers can be added as well, underneath the top layer. They might be to add a visual effect, such as a soft shine. Or, be a particular color or translucency that interacts pleasingly with the colored leather underneath it. In some cases, as automobile upholstery, fire retardants and UV protectants can be added as well.
How Faux Pebbled Leather is Made
Faux leather is made through a few simple steps. There might be unique production variations based on the specific type of faux leather that is being made, though in general it is comprised of these processes.
The plastic composition for the faux pebbled leather is mixed and prepared. The elements in the thick liquid mixture can vary based on the intended use of the material. For example, additives that protect the material from the sun could be added. Also, flame retardant elements could be mixed in at this point too.
Another major element added at this step is color. Faux leather can be made in virtually any color imaginable. The dyes in the proper amounts are added to mechanical mixing bins, and the color blends in with the plastics and additives, resulting in a thick, liquid blend that is ready for the next step.
In some cases, the color will be added later as an additional layer during extrusion. The plastics typically used are polyurethane (PU), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also referred to as, vinyl.
Once mixed, the faux pebbled leather liquid is extruded onto a flat backing. The extrusion might be via gravity and pouring, or via machines that push the material out evenly onto the backing.
A backing is necessary as the leatherette needs a secure place to dry and adhere to to take the final shape. The backing is usually made of a paper or fiber (cotton, polyester, etc.). It can also be made of a fine mesh (fiber, plastic, metal). This mesh provided more gripping areas for the mixture to more easily adhere to the backing. Once the plastic is extruded onto the backing in an even layer, it is set to dry.
The backing selection is often based on the intended use of the finished product. For example, bookbinders might utilize faux leather with a paper or fabric backing. Upholstery workers might use faux leather on a polyester backing. This provides the material a flexible base on which to form around the curves of finished products such as furniture.
Heat can be used to aid the drying process. This controlled method can be both even, and fast. Additional layers can be extruded onto the first, if a thicker-layered material is preferred. It is then heated again and let to cool.
Once colored, the faux pebbled leather can have its surface texture applied. This can be utilized to make it look like the natural grain of a natural leather, though in this case it’s to have a uniform texture of raised bumps. It can also be used to imprint a preferred design that is visually appealing.
While stamping natural leather is sometimes used to cover surface imperfections, stamping faux leather is purely cosmetic for finishing reasons. The faux surface is generally even due to the extrusion processes.
Various textures might be preferred in a final product, depending on what type of goods it will be used for. Since this is a synthetic material, faux leather offers an opportunity to easily introduce stylish and functional textures. This can include embossing as well.
Additionally, surface colorings might be printed onto faux pebbled leather. These could be to give it an “antique” or vintage look. It could include a logo or design, or be any stylistic, visual touch that is desired. Often, the leather surface will have a finish applied that will protect the printing, texture, and color.
Once stamped/embossed, the faux pebbled leather can be finished. This is usually done with a synthetic surface protectant. It can provide a shiny appearance to the leather. The surface finish can also provide a layer that protects the material underneath. Generally, these finishes are a transparent polymer that resists water and scratches/abrasions. Finishes can also include scents that help make the leatherette smell just like more natural leather.
Since the underlying material and surface protectants are man-made, they can add many various performance characteristics to the faux leather. Also, as the finishes and material are plastics, they are usually very water resistant/waterproof.
Popular Brands that Use Pebbled Leather
Pebbled leather is used for a lot of leather goods. Some examples include Gucci using it for wallets, belts, and bags. Burberry uses pebbled leather for wallets, backpacks, and bags. Gucci uses it for belts, bags, and wallets. Salvatore Ferragamo uses it for shoes, belts, and accessories.
Allen Edmonds uses it for belts. Tummy uses it for personal accessories such as wallets. Some of these designers will name their pebbled leather with a unique name, to set it’s unique style apart from other designers and manufacturers.
Common Pebbled Leather Questions
Is There Faux Pebbled Leather?
Yes, there is faux pebbled leather. Since pebbled leather is a term that refers to the surface texture of leather, it can be applied to both natural and faux leather.
Many faux leathers are available with a pebble texture. They come in a range of colors, pebble sizes, and pebble shapes. Faux pebbled leather is also available in a wide range of surface finishes from matte to glossy to shiny and even reflective.
Is Pebbled Leather Real Leather?
Pebbled leather might be real leather, if it was made with real leather. Pebbled leather is also made with faux leather (plastic and vegan leather alternatives). Since it is available in all options, you’d have to inspect the specific pebbled leather piece to determine if it is made from natural leather, or faux leather.
Which is Better Saffiano or Pebbled Leather?
Saffiano leather is a strong, durable material made from pressed, natural leather with a protective, plastic coating applied. It is generally very durable and looks nice. Pebbled leather can also be made from natural leather, and coated with a protective finish.
In terms of better, it would mainly depend on personal preference. Saffiano leather has a different look, and essentially a plastic coating finish. so, the leather is never really touched or felt. Natural pebbled leather might have the grain exposed, which would require more care and maintenance, though feel and look great.
When comparing Saffiano to faux pebbled leather, they both have a synthetic or plastic surface. However, most faux leathers are plastic throughout the material. In that case, Saffiano leather will be more durable, both due to the plastic surface treatment, along with the natural leather base. Click here for a detailed look at Saffiano leather that I put together.
Where to Buy Pebbled leather
If you are planning to buy pebbled leather, there are a few places you can look that can be helpful.
Many resellers and large commerce sites sell faux pebbled leather. It can often be purchased in smaller amounts, or even in bulk or by the roll. Colors, styles, textures, thicknesses, and prices will vary greatly. So with some looking around online, searching for faux leather or vinyl, a lot of options should come up.
For natural pebbled leather, online leather resellers generally have a variety of options available.
Craft and Fabric Stores
These are great locations to physically see and hold the material, especially faux pebbled leathers. For some projects, it’s important to know beforehand how the material really feels. Crafts stores usually have a few types that can be purchased in smaller rolls. Fabric stores usually have larger amounts, or can order in bulk for you.
If you’re looking for large volumes of pebbled leather for a project or large-scale production, wholesalers are usually a good place. They can be based in your country, or located overseas. Depending on your location and volume needed, this is often the way to get the best price per unit of the material. Searches online for pebbled leather wholesalers or pebbled leather in bulk should help. These can be great options for both natural pebbled leather, and faux pebbled leather.
Pebbled Leather Care & Maintenance
Pebbled leather can last for years if handled well, maintained properly, cleaned often, and stored safely.
How to Clean Pebbled Leather
Even with its textured surface, both natural and faux can be cleaned gently with a wet cloth. Ensure the cloth doesn’t have loose fibers and lint that could transfer to the surface. A microfiber cloth could work well. Also, test in a small area first to make sure the cloth will not transfer any color to the items surface (couch, sofa, bag, purse, etc.).
If the item needs additional cleaning, a very soft brush can be used to help loosen dirt and grime. Wet it slightly and work it over the leather, being careful not to press to hard. The bristles of the brush should be doing most of the work. After this step, going over it with a damp cloth can help clean off any remaining dirt/dust. Let the item dry off before using or storing.
If what you are trying to clean goes beyond dust/grime, and is a stain from something, additional care might be needed. First, consider what type of stain it is. Knowing the substance can help determine what the best method to clean it is. If it is something common, and gentle cleaner might work.
If it’s something more significant, look into cleaners made specifically for the type of pebbled leather you have (natural or faux). They will be made to treat the stain while helping to maintain the surface finish. As with most cleaners, always test in a small, non-noticeable spot first to ensure it will not discolor the bag. Definitely don’t want to make a second stain while trying to clean the first 🙂
How to Condition Pebbled Leather
The conditioning approach will be a little different for faux pebbled leather and natural pebbled leather. Let’s look at each.
Faux Pebbled Leather Conditioning
Since some pebbled leather has a protective surface finish, it doesn’t need to be conditioned. And functionally, it really can’t. The surface finish protects the material underneath which is usually plastic. It also serves as a barrier that conditioner cannot penetrate.
Thankfully though, the protective surface makes it’s very easy to clean with a damp cloth. This is an easy way to always keep leatherette products looking great. If the surface layer begins to wear away, additional protectant can be applied to help restore it.
Some of these products will be applied with a cloth or applicator, and others sprayed on and wiped off. Make sure to read the instructions on any finish you plan to apply, and test on a small area first (to make sure it will not discolor the surface) before applying to the entire item.
Natural Pebbled Leather Conditioning
If you have a natural pebbled leather that is unfinished, it can be conditioned. Generally, this involves applying a wax, oil, or cream onto the surface and letting the leather absorb it in. When conditioned, the leather is more supple, flexible, resistant to scratches, and feels better in the hand.
Once the surface has been thoroughly cleaned, the conditioner can be applied using an applicator or soft cloth. Conditioner is generally applied in small circles, allowed to soak in, then the excess wiped off with a clean, lint-free cloth.
A protective finish can be applied at this stage, if preferred. The benefit is it will help the leather be a bit more water and scratch resistant. The potential downside is that it will introduce a layer on the leather surface that hides some of the desirable look and feel of natural leather. Protective finishes are usually natural waxes or synthetic waxes/acrylics such as resolene.
How to Fix a Scratch on Pebbled Leather
Fixing a scratch on a faux pebbled leather piece is usually as easy as applying a leather repair kit. Since faux pebbled leather is a plastic mix, it will require replacement of the material that was scratched away.
Typically, leather repair kits have color-matched liquid that is poured into the crack. It might need to be evened, heat pressed, a grain pattern applied, and/or allowed to dry, and then the scratch should be filled.
If you have natural pebbled leather, for small scratches, rub your finger over it to try and buff it out. Since natural leather has many fibers in it, and originally had oils in the skin, adding oils back into it is usually a first step to try in fixing a scratch. If the scratch is deeper, try applying some leather conditioner to the scratch and surrounding area, then buff it out after a short while.
If the scratch is very large or deep, you might need to try a leather filler kit. They usually have a substance that can be squeezed into leather cracks/cuts to fill them in. The substance generally has color matching options available so it’s a close visual look to the existing leather. Follow the specific instructions on the kit, though usually once it’s dried the surface can be smoothed and conditioned.
How to Fix Tears in Pebbled Leather
Tears in pebbled leather are harder to fix than scratches. Since faux pebbled leather is a plastic blend, fixing tears might require a repair kit that includes a filler. The space created by the tear might need to be filled.
Depending on the size of the tear, this can be done with fabric, flexible glue, or the color-matched liquid that comes in the repair kit. Since the item will likely be sat or or used and need to flex, the material used as a filler will need to be flexible once dry too. Sewing the tear is an option too, depending on the size.
Once the tear is filled, just fix the remaining scratch that is visible above it. Pour the color-matched liquid that is poured into the crack. It might need to be evened, heat pressed, a grain pattern applied, and/or allowed to dry, and then the scratch should be filled.
for natural pebbled leather, tears can often be fixed by sewing. The fixed tear will usually never look as smooth/finished as the original piece (those joined fibers actually made up the original hide), though ripped or torn leather can definitely be joined back together. Usually a fine, strong thread can be used to sew through small holes, and mend the tear. If the tear is large, use a leather filler similar as one might for faux pebbled leather.
How to Store Pebbled Leather
Pebbled leather should be stored in a cool, dry place. Keeping it out of direct sunlight is key, as the sun can discolor the protective finish if it has one, and especially for faux pebbled leathers. Generally, natural leather products benefit from low-average humidity environments. Air flow is also beneficial, as it allows the natural fibers of natural leathers to “breathe”.
If you have faux pebbled leather clothing or accessories, storing them in a closet or drawer works great. Keeping them away from extreme heat, and sunlight, are key.
For natural pebbled leathers, if kept in a sealed environment, the humidity might rise and the leather start to deteriorate, and mold. In an environment with too-low humidity, the leather can start to dry and that could lead to cracking and weakening of the fibers.
A good place to store pebbled leather goods leather is a dressing room or closet that has an average livable temperature, humidity level, and frequent airflow. Some leather goods come with storage bags. They’re usually a breathable fabric that helps keep cut off. Storing it in one of these can be a great choice if available.
When you’re looking for a leather that has a very touchable texture, a stylish look, and is generally durable, check out pebbled leather.
Can pebbled leather get wet?
Yes, pebbled leather can get wet if it is a faux (plastic) pebbled leather, or a natural pebbled leather with a protective finish. Since the protective finish covers the leather surface, it usually helps make then water and a bit scratch resistant.
What tools can I use to create pebbled leather?
A leather worker can create pebbled leather using a stamp or textured press. Even a nylon mallet with a pattern cut into the striking face can be used. Pressing any pattern into the leather is what results in the pebbled texture.