How Durable Is Bonded Leather?


The affordability of bonded leather furniture means almost anyone can afford a leather couch or chair these days. Because it’s not genuine leather, however, you may worry about bonded leather’s durability. This amazing fabric often really looks good in the living room or any room of your home, but will it actually hold up in the years to come? That depends a lot on how you treat the piece.

What Is Bonded Leather?

Bonded leather differs from genuine leather in the fact that, while it contains leather fibers, it’s not one solid piece of hide. Instead, leather scraps are shredded, and the fibers are bonded with specialized glue. That mixture is then put onto a fabric backing and is embossed with a leather grain, in some cases, and coated in polyurethane. This gives the material the traditional leather look, but the center layer is fabric.

Bonded leather is also called blended leather, reconstituted leather, and bicast leather. The percentage of actual leather used varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some furniture makes also make chairs and sofas with a mix of bonded and genuine leather, saving more durable material for the seats and back, while the areas that are less subject to wear have bonded leather.

Does It Hold Up Well?

Depending on the quality of the material, bonded leather durability can be quite good. How you treat it will be very important, however. While genuine leather gets character with scratches and wear, bonded leather doesn’t. A single bonded leather chairscratch can remove some of the surface of the polyurethane, which means discoloration instead of that classic distressed leather look.

Because you sit on it all the time, bonded leather sofa durability may be lower than other furniture. Repeated movement against the sofa can cause wear, especially on lower quality pieces. The top surface, which typically contains the texture and color that makes the material look like leather, can flake and peel off.

In addition, you have to be very careful how you clean this material. The surface of bonded leather typically can’t stand up to heavy soap or alcohol-based products. In some cases, the wrong cleaner can mean your bonded leather couch or chair cracks. The fortunate thing, though, is that you don’t have to use leather conditioner because there’s not enough real leather to need it. As with real leather, however, too much sunlight or heat will fade and crack the surface, and can cause the surface to peel off in small pieces.

Repairing bonded leather can also be a problem, as it is more difficult and more expensive to do. The lower bonded leather furniture durability means that repairs are rarely as strong as the original fabric, and a tear may come open again with routine use. There are leather repair kits available to help scratches and discolored areas blend in.

While bonded leather isn’t as durable as genuine leather, it can look great in a room. Making sure that you clean it gently and keep it out of strong sun will extend the life of your piece. The reality, though, is that furniture made with bonded leather likely isn’t something you want to have in a playroom or a space that gets a lot of traffic. And while quality bonded leather durability isn’t bad, you may do better to save up your money and invest in genuine leather furniture.