Leather furniture is often the definition of luxury. Not only do leather sofas and chairs typically feel amazing, but they offer a level of aesthetic that other material choices just can’t touch. What’s more, leather is fairly durable, and these days, it comes in a number of different colors and textures. Your biggest choice as you search for the right leather furniture will be whether to go with the less expensive bonded leather or the more durable genuine leather option.
If you want a leather sofa but you’re not prepared for the high price tag, bonded leather can often be an inexpensive option. Although they are both made of leather, the difference between bonded leather and genuine leather is that the bonded material is made up of leather fibers rather than a full section of hide. These fibers have been bonded together with latex, put onto a fabric backing, then covered with a polyurethane finish that helps to make it look just like genuine leather It can also be stamped or dyed to match nearly any leather type and color.
Bonded leather products come with various amounts of genuine leather in them, but typically it’s about 20%. The actual leather, however, isn’t on the surface. Most of what you see is the polyurethane, making bonded leather sofas and chairs fairly easy to clean. They aren’t as durable as furniture made with genuine leather, however, and nicks and scratches can cause real damage to the bonded material.
Genuine leather is made from actual animal hide, with different kinds of hides providing different textures and patterns. Cattle hide is the most common, and it’s tanned to make a strong upholstery. Real leather ages fairly well, and while it may show some nicks and scars, they usually don’t affect the quality of the piece. As you shop, you may notice that genuine leather sofas have variations in color or texture because of the number of hides used to cover the surface.
While genuine leather is more durable, it’s not quite as easy to clean, and it may fade or crack in excessive light or heat. It also requires specialized conditioning about twice a year.
Of course, one of the top benefits of bonded leather is that it’s inexpensive – often hundreds less than genuine leather. That means that you can have a great looking couch or chair without the high price. When made well, it can be very difficult to tell if a piece of furniture is made from bonded leather or genuine leather. Because bonded leather durability is lower than genuine leather, however, you may spend more in the long run because you could need to replace the piece more quickly.
In addition, bonded leather is often considered to be more environmentally friendly, because it uses scraps of leather that would otherwise be thrown away. The material has a uniform consistency that genuine leather lacks. It can also be made to look and feel like many different types of leather, and dyed in nearly any color.
Genuine leather, on the other hand, is typically much stronger and more durable than bonded leather, which means that it can last a long time and still look great. Areas that show wear and small scratches often look “distressed” rather than damaged, and don’t detract from the appearance of the furniture. If leather furniture is damaged, it can be professionally repaired, often looking as good as new.
Many people find that bonded leather feels harder or rougher than genuine, which can have a soft, buttery feel. In addition, many people find that bonded leather can get cold in the winter and hot in the summer, making it uncomfortable. Genuine leather acclimates the a person’s body temperature, making is a more comfortable choice.
When considering genuine leather vs bonded leather, consider your budget and your lifestyle. Genuine leather is expensive, and greasy hands or a spilled glass of juice can leave unattractive stains that are very hard to clean. Bonded leather furniture is a lot more affordable, but if you’re rough on your couch, it might wear and get damaged very quickly.
If you love the look, feel, and smell of leather, you should probably go with a genuine leather sofa. It’s also a more durable choice and will likely continue to look good even after it has a few years of wear. If you do damage it, genuine leather is easier to repair.
If you want something that looks almost as good but doesn’t require the same amount of ongoing maintenance, a bonded leather sofa may be your best choice. You’ll need to be a little more careful with your sofa to avoid causing it any damage.