Faux Vs Bonded Vs Real Leather: 7 Pros and Cons of Each Leather

Have you ever been shopping for leather furniture or other types of products that are made of leather? If yes, then you have already noticed that there are various types of leather products in the market. We can not directly say one is better than the other without knowing about their differences. If you want to know about the differences between different types of leather, this article is for you.

In general, I recommend real leather products, especially real leather furniture for people who want their furniture or other leather made products to last longer. Bonded and Faux leathers are also a great choice. Actually, they are much more preferable as they cost less than real leather with reasonable durability. 

Before going to the details, here is a quick overview of the differences between faux, bonded, and real leather:

#Faux LeatherBonded LeatherReal Leather
1.Faux leather is an artificial or synthetic leather made of thermoplastic polymer.Bonded leather, also called reconstituted leather or blended leather.Genuine leather is made from the skin of an animal instead of being synthetic. It is also known as top-grain or full-grain leather.
2.Faux leather doesn’t contain animal hides.Bonded leather contains animal hides.Real leather is made from animal hides, such as buffalo or cattle.
3.It’s 100% artificial.It uses 10-20% genuine leather mixed with synthetic material.It’s top grain or full grain leather from animal skin
4.It smells like plastic.It has a variety of smell plasticy and chemical and a bit real leather.It smells like genuine leather.
5.Cost of faux leather is somewhere in between the three types of leather. Bonded leather is cheapest among the three kinds of leather.Real Leather is the most expensive one.
6.Faux Leather develops cracks and peels over time.Bonded Leather also develops cracks and peels over time.Real leather won’t crack or peel easily.
7.Faux leather is expected to last for three to Five years.Bonded leather is expected to last for two to three years.Real leather is expected to last for 10-20 years.
8.Faux Leather is easier to Clean.Bonded Leather is difficult to Clean.Real Leather is also difficult to Clean.
9.A lot of color options with consistent texture as it’s artificial.Bonded leather also has a lot of color options and it’s thinner than faux and real leather.Real leather has a limited color option with smooth and soft texture.

I’ll explain some of the most significant differences below.

Bonded Leather is Cheaper:

Bonded leather is a mixture of artificial leather and real leather. It uses the leftover fibers of real leather, which tends to be cheap. That’s why it is the most popular option among manufacturers. 

While you are purchasing any furniture that contains leather material, they are most likely a bonded leather. Most of the office chairs we came across so far are built with bonded leather material. You will get a bonded leather chair for about $150 – $350. 

Big manufacturer companies like Serta, La-Z-boy use bonded leather material for their chairs. However, Faux leather also costs similar to bonded leather. As this leather is 100% artificial, it’s a bit costlier than the bonded leather.

Faux Leather Furniture are Easier to Clean:

You might know that faux leather material does not absorb water or any other liquids. Materials that are water absorbent are naturally harder to clean. This benefit is only provided by faux leather material provided, and thus it will be easier for you to clean your furniture that is made of faux leather.  

On the other hand, unlike faux leather, real or genuine leather absorbs water, and different types of liquids. You might find it difficult to clean easily. Since real leather is expensive, you have to be very careful and cautious while cleaning any furniture made of real or genuine leather. At any cost, you should not use abrasive cleaners.

Real leather furniture is needed to be treated at least twice or thrice a year to prevent it from drying out. If you clean your real leather furniture and take care of it in a proper way, it will remain soft and last for many more years than it normally does.

Now, let’s talk about cleaning furniture that are made of bonded leather. You have to be even more careful while cleaning chairs or any other furniture that is made of bonded leather. They are harder to clean and maintain. You can not clean bonded leather built furniture with any sort of abrasive cleaner as they tend to wear off pretty easily. Even if you use clothes for cleaning, I would suggest you be extra careful and use soft clothes.

Real Leather Lasts for 10-20 years:

The durability of real or genuine leather is far more than faux and bonded leather combined. In general, real leather furniture is expected to last for 10 to 20 years, but if they are maintained properly, they are seen to last even longer. The reason behind this longer durability is that they wear off over time like bonded or faux leather.

On the other hand, bonded leather lasts for two to three years. This type of material wears off very quickly in comparison to other types of leather. There are some cheap bonded leather built office chairs which are reported to by users to start wearing off in less than a year.

However, faux leather is not as durable as real or genuine leather, but it lasts for three to five years. I think this is a standard amount of time considering the fact that a decent faux leather built furniture is way cheaper than the ones with real leather.  

Faux Leather is not Eco-friendly:

Millions of leather fibers are being manufactured each year, so many waste materials are being dumped at the ocean and it’s creating a great impact on our environment. We all know that plastic material is a big threat. It takes years to biodegrade. 

Although faux leather, PU leather uses less and cheaper resources to manufacture. Process of manufacturing is not environmentally friendly as well. This plastic material is not eco-friendly.

Bonded leather could be considered more environment friendly in comparison to faux leather, as it uses a mixture of real leather. Only real or genuine leather is environmentally friendly as it is biodegradable. It’s costly and durable for more than 10 years where Faux leather and bonded leather do not last that long.

Bonded Leather Furniture are the Most Popular:

If you come this far, you already know that bonded leather is cheaper and easily available to get from the market. As this leather is a mixation of real and artificial leather, manufacturers tend to use this leather material a lot.

Most of the modern furniture manufacturers now use bonded leather in sofas, chairs, fancy clothes, etc. On the other hand, faux leather is also popular. You will find PU leather material in only a few furniture.

Now, let’s talk about the availability of furniture that are made of real leather. If you look into popular online stores like Amazon, you will see that very few types of furniture are made of real or genuine leather. 

I have searched for an office chair made of real leather and found only one or two brands that prepare that kind of office chair made of genuine leather that I wanted. Since genuine leather furniture costs more, that’s why Furniture made of genuine leather is less available.

Faux Leather Smells like Plastic:

Faux leather has a consistent texture because it’s a machine-made material. When you run your fingers across faux leather you can feel that this material is not real, and if you smell this synthetic material you will immediately feel it’s a plastic material with chemical odor. However, there is no reliable way to fake the smell of leather.

Bonded leather also has the same plasticky smell as faux leather. As bonded leather has a 10-20% real leather material, it may smell more like real leather to some extent. On the other hand, real leather will have a natural smell.

Many people do not like chemicals like the smell of their furniture. That’s why they do not like the smell of both faux and bonded leather. However, the preference for smell is a subjective thing. It varies from person to person. 

I personally can not tolerate a chemical-like smell from furniture if they are too strong. That’s why I prefer the smell of genuine leather more than the smell of bonded or faux leather.

Real Leather does not Develop Cracks & Peels:

Real or genuine leather does not develop any cracks, and also you will not see any sort of peeling over time. For this reason, real leather chairs and other furniture tends to last long without developing any cracks and peeling on the material surface.

On the contrary, both faux leather and bonded leather are prone to cracks and peeling. Bonded leather develops these cracks and peels earlier than faux leather does. For this reason, Faux leather office chairs are more preferable to bonded leather ones to most people.

However, real leather materials develop a patina on their natural surface instead of wearing out. But Faux and bonded leather do not develop this patina as real or genuine leather does. 

Related Questions:

What is the difference between PU Leather and Faux Leather?

Basically, PU leather and Faux leather are similar. Both are artificial leathers. PU or polyurethane leather is made of thermoplastic polymer. Faux leather is also made up of the same materials. They are one hundred percent artificial.

They are also termed vegan leather. In other words, you can say PU and faux leather are leathers that are actually an artificial fabric that is made to imitate genuine leather.

Is PU leather waterproof?

I won’t say that PU leather is 100% waterproof. But due to its varnish, it is more waterproof than actual or real leather. It is also lighter than real leather. That’s why PU leather is also more preferable for making shoes.

Is Faux Leather Washable?

Yes, faux leather is washable. This is an excellent feature of faux leather. You can clean faux leather furniture or other products very quickly with detergent and water. You can also mix some liquid soap or dishwasher in water and clean your faux leather product using a soft cloth. However, it is better to check your leather product or furniture’s instruction manual before washing it.

Final Words:

After comparing faux leather, bonded leather and real leather, my personal preference is bonded leather. It’s popular, cheap, uses real leather mixture, smells better than faux leather, has a lot of design and color options. However, real leather is going to be the best option for some people. As this type is most durable as well as costlier to produce and rare to find.

I personally like real leather but cost is a fact. Faux leather is also preferable to some people as it’s cheaper like bonded leather. But I do not prefer faux leather. The reason behind this is, as I said it earlier, it smells like plastic.

Forms response chart. Question title: Which of the following type of leather do you prefer?. Number of responses: 26 responses.

We did a little survey on people’s preference of leather to know about which type of leather people prefer. It turns out bonded leather is preferred by the majority of people (53.8%). The major reason behind this is that they are cheaper than other types of leather. I think this clarifies the fact, why bonded leather products are most popular in the market.

The survey was done on a small number of people who have a good idea of all these types of leather. In reality, the percentages may not be that much accurate since the sample size was small. However, I think this gives a general idea of the preference for leather among people. Let me know your preference in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute to check out our article, 12 Tips To Choose The Best Genuine Leather Office Chair.

Sifatul Shohan

Hi, I'm the co-owner of officechairtrends.com. A blogger and a freelance web developer.  As I work as developer, I have to work for prolonged hours at a desk that's where I developed back pain. I started researching on ergonomic chairs and gained knowledge throughout the process.  This is the site where I share everything I've learned about office chairs.