What is Bonded Leather and Why is it a Good Upholstery Choice?
In furniture upholstery fabric selections, bonded leather is a relatively new product. Many people have the mistaken idea that if a leather upholstery fabric isn't genuine leather, it will look cheap and not hold up to wear. That may have been the case with "faux" leather furniture in the past, butthis latest material is an excellent alternative to leather. It shares some of the qualities that make leather a top choice for furniture, but at a more affordable price.
What is Bonded Leather?
What makes this material unique is that it is contains a percentage of real pieces of recycled leather. These are combined with a bonding agent, like latex. The components are then formed into rolls covered in polyurethane and go through a drying process. The drying reduces the moisture content. The rolls of material are then embossed to give it that leather-grained look.
Essentially, only the back of the fabric is made of leather. But the way this fabric is processed makes the end product extremely durable.
The most desirable aspect of purchasing furniture that's upholstered in this material is its affordability. Bonded leather is about half the cost of genuine leather. So if your budget can't accommodate leather upholstery, this is an attractive alternative.
Other features that make bonded leather a good choice include:
- Recycled materials : If going "green" is important to you, the use of recycled materials in this fabric makes sense. Using recycled leather pieces reduces the need for new cow hides and the manufacturing is relatively free of waste products.
- Durability : While not as durable as genuine leather, bonded leather can stand up to much more than some other upholstery fabric options.
- Look and Feel : Modern bonded leather is nearly identical in appearance and has a very similar feel to that of genuine leather. Most people cannot tell the difference.
The latest version of bonded leather is combining it with a matching vinyl. For years furniture manufactures have offered furniture with genuine leather on the surfaces you normally touch (the seat, back, arms, and footrest) with a matching color vinyl everywhere else (outside arms and outside back). The benefit to the consumer is less cost since the furniture is not 100% leather. Most people are happy with this trade off as long as the "matching" vinyl is nearly identical to leather in appearance. Although this leather / vinyl combination is sold under a variety of trade names, most companies refer to this product as "leather match".
The same idea is now being used with bonded leather. Bonded leather is applied everywhere the body touches with matched vinyl everywhere else. Since vinyl is less expensive, this reduces costs and makes the furniture more affordable.
Learn the Difference
When you begin your furniture shopping, educate yourself about the differences in the look, feel, and pricing of bonded leather vs. 100% genuine leather vs. leather / vinyl vs. bonded leather / vinyl. A good customer service-oriented furniture store will gladly show you the differences.
NOTE: Most stores will mix these products together on the selling floor. This can be very confusing to the consumer. Be sure to look at labels and ask questions to determine what material (s) you are actually purchasing. Knowing what material is used to cover the furniture is the only way you can make an informed comparison between different pieces of furniture to determine which is right for your home.