What is Bonded Leather? Explore The Pros & Cons

Bonded leather, faux leather, is often used in sofas and clothing. It’s made from a mix of genuine leather scraps and fibers and a polyurethane binder. It’s usually cheaper than genuine leather, but is it worth the savings? In this post, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of bonded leather, so you can make an informed decision when shopping for leather products.

Key Information

Pros and Cons Bonded Leather
  • Cost-effective alternative to genuine leather.
  • Offers a similar look and feel to genuine leather.
  • Eco-friendly, as it utilizes recycled leather fibers.
  • Uniform appearance, with consistent color and texture.
  • Resistance to scratches and stains.
  • Lower durability compared to genuine leather.
  • Prone to peeling and cracking over time.
  • Less breathable, leading to discomfort in hot weather.
  • Lacks the unique natural variations and aging of genuine leather.
  • Less resistance to wear and tear.

What is Bonded Leather?

Bonded leather, also known as reconstituted or composite leather, is made from the leftovers of genuine leather production. Think of it as the “meatloaf” of the leather world; it’s made from scraps and fibers, all held together with glue (polyurethane binder) and shaped to resemble genuine leather. It’s not quite the real deal, but it’s a decent substitute.

Pros of Bonded Leather

The biggest pro of bonded leather is the price. It’s significantly cheaper than genuine leather. It’s also more consistent in texture, so you don’t have to worry about any unsightly blemishes or marks. Bonded leather comes in various styles and colors so that you can find the perfect match for your decor.

Cons of Bonded Leather

The cons of bonded leather are many, but the biggest one is its lifespan. It’s not as durable as genuine leather and will wear away over time. It’s also prone to scratches, peels, and flakes. And, if you leave it in the sunlight, it will fade. Plus, it’s not vegan and can release chemicals into the air over time. Cleaning it can also be challenging, as abrasive cleaners can strip away the surface.

How to Tell the Difference Between Bonded Leather and Genuine Leather?

The main difference between bonded leather and genuine leather is the cost. Bonded leather is significantly cheaper. Natural leather will always be more expensive. Additionally, bonded leather is thinner and feels more synthetic, while genuine leather has imperfections and is thicker. Bonded leather can also sometimes smell like genuine leather, depending on how it looks.

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In conclusion, bonded leather can be a decent substitute for genuine leather if you’re on a budget, but it’s essential to know the downsides. It’s not as durable and can scratch, peel, and fade over time. Plus, it’s not vegan and can release chemicals into the air. If you’re looking for a genuine leather alternative, bonded leather may not be the best option, especially if you want your furniture or clothing to last a long time.


How long will bonded leather last?

Bonded leather is not as durable as genuine leather and typically has a shorter lifespan. The lifespan of bonded leather can vary depending on the quality of the materials used and the level of care it receives. With proper care and maintenance, bonded leather can last a few years. However, it is prone to wear and tear and may show signs of wear and tear, such as peeling, cracking, or fading much sooner than genuine leather.

Does bonded leather scratch easily?

Bonded leather is more prone to scratches than genuine leather. Because it is made of scrap leather and a polyurethane binder, it is not as durable as real leather and can be easily damaged by sharp objects or heavy use. Scratches on bonded leather can be difficult to repair and may be more noticeable than on genuine leather.

How do you maintain bonded leather?

To maintain bonded leather, it is essential to clean it regularly with a mild, leather-specific cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the surface of the leather. Protecting the leather from direct sunlight and heat sources is also essential, as this can cause fading. Regularly conditioning the leather with a leather conditioner can help to keep it supple and prevent cracking.

What causes bonded leather to peel?

Bonded leather can peel due to several factors, including poor quality materials, improper care and maintenance, and exposure to heat and sunlight. The polyurethane binder that holds the scrap leather fibers together can also degrade over time, causing the surface to peel. Additionally, if the bonded leather is not properly conditioned and protected, it can dry out and crack, leading to peeling. It is essential to avoid exposing bonded leather to heat sources or direct sunlight and to care for it properly to prevent peeling.

What happens when bonded leather gets wet?

When bonded leather gets wet, it can become discolored, stained, and weaken the adhesives that hold the material together. If the bonded leather is not properly dried and conditioned after getting wet, it can become stiff and brittle. The polyurethane binder may sometimes break down, causing the bonded leather to separate or peel. To prevent damage, it is essential to avoid exposing bonded leather to water, and if it does get wet, dry it immediately and condition it to restore its suppleness.

Which lasts longer faux leather or bonded leather?

Faux leather, also known as PU leather, is typically more durable and longer-lasting than bonded leather. PU leather is made from plastic that is more resistant to wear and tear than bonded leather. It is also more resistant to fading and discoloration and is typically less expensive than genuine leather. However, faux leather does not have the natural look and feel of genuine leather, and its durability can vary depending on the materials’ quality.

Is bonded leather as good as genuine leather?

Bonded leather is not as good as genuine leather in terms of durability, quality, and authenticity. Genuine leather is made from the hides of animals and is considered a natural product that ages beautifully. On the other hand, bonded leather is made from scrap leather and a polyurethane binder and lacks the natural look and feel of genuine leather. It is also less durable and not as resistant to wear and tear.

Do you need to condition bonded leather?

It is recommended to condition bonded leather to keep it supple and prevent cracking. Regular conditioning with a leather conditioner can help to nourish the leather and keep it in good condition. However, it is essential to use a leather-specific conditioner and avoid using oils or waxes that can damage the surface of the bonded leather. Conditioning can help extend the bonded leather’s lifespan and maintain its appearance.

craig sandeman

Meet Craig, the leather guru behind a store and blog that helps you find the best leather products. When he’s not curating lists of top-tier leather items, he’s hiking Table Mountain or walking his dog. Trust his picks, and you’ll never feel leather regret.

I’ve carefully chosen each and every product on this site. And if you happen to make a purchase through one of my links, I may receive  a commission. – thanks! :)

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