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What is Bonded Leather? - Homes Delux

What is Bonded Leather?

A frequently posed inquiry from our clientele is, "Is this item crafted from 'genuine leather'?" Recognising the importance of clarity on this topic, we have curated an in-depth article to elucidate the nuances of Bonded leather, ensuring our audience is well-informed. Let's delve into the details.

Is Bonded Leather Real or Fake? 

Bonded leather is a popular material used in leather furniture upholstery, bookbinding, bags, and personal accessories. It is a near-synthetic leather made primarily of ground leather fibres, bonded together with a polyurethane (plastic) mixture and attached to a paper or fibre backing. Bonded leather is cheaper than genuine leather because it contains less than 20% real leather.

Understanding the production process of bonded leather is important to appreciate the differences between it and other types of leather. Scrap leather pieces from tanneries and leather factories are collected and ground into small fibres. These fibres are then mixed with a polyurethane binder, which is then spread onto a backing material. The final product is then embossed with a leather-like texture and dyed to resemble genuine leather.

In comparison to other types of leather, bonded leather has its own unique appearance and texture. It is often thinner and less durable than genuine leather and has a more uniform appearance due to the manufacturing process. Bonded leather is also easier to clean and maintain than genuine leather.

Key Takeaways

  • Bonded leather is a near-synthetic leather made from ground leather fibres and a polyurethane binder.
  • It is cheaper than genuine leather and has a more uniform appearance.
  • Bonded leather is often used in furniture upholstery, bookbinding, bags, and personal accessories.

Leather Content of Bonded Leather

The leather content of bonded leather is usually between 10% and 20%, with the remaining content being made up of other materials such as fibre, plastics, and polyurethane. The process of making bonded leather involves gathering leather scraps and fibres that are leftover from creating other forms of leather. These scraps and fibres are then mashed into a pulp and bonded with a polyurethane binder.

One of the advantages of using bonded leather is its affordability. It is much cheaper than genuine leather because it contains less than 20% real leather. This makes it a popular choice for furniture and clothing manufacturers who want to create products that have the look and feel of leather without the high cost.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using bonded leather. One of the main drawbacks is its durability. Bonded leather is not as durable as genuine leather and can start to crack and peel over time. It is also not as breathable as genuine leather, which can make it uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.

How is Bonded Leather Made?

The production process of bonded leather starts with the collection of leather scraps and fibres. These scraps are then mixed with a polyurethane binder or other chemicals to form a pulp. The pulp is then extruded onto a backing material, such as a cloth or paper, using an extrusion machine. The thickness of the extruded material can be adjusted based on the desired final product.

After the extrusion process, the surface of the bonded leather is embossed with a leather-like texture or grain. This is done using an embossing machine that presses the surface of the material with a patterned roller. The embossing process gives the bonded leather the appearance of genuine leather.

The final step in the production process of bonded leather is the addition of colour and pattern. This is done using a surface treatment that does not penetrate the material like a dyeing process would. The surface treatment is applied to the embossed surface of the bonded leather, giving it the desired colour and pattern.

Appearance and Texture

Bonded leather has a distinctive texture and appearance that sets it apart from genuine leather. It is a man-made material that is created by bonding shredded leather fibres to a backing material, such as paper or fabric, using a polyurethane or natural rubber binder. This gives it a smooth, plastic-like texture that is easy to clean and maintain.

One of the most noticeable differences between bonded leather and genuine leather is the absence of imperfections in the former. Genuine leather often has natural markings and scars that give it character and uniqueness. Bonded leather, on the other hand, is completely uniform in appearance and lacks any natural imperfections.

Another way that bonded leather differs from genuine leather is in its embossing. Since it is a man-made material, it can be embossed with any pattern or texture desired, allowing manufacturers to create a wide variety of looks and styles. This means that bonded leather can be made to resemble other materials, such as suede or exotic animal skins.

Bonded leather is available in a range of colours, thanks to the ability to dye the polyurethane or natural rubber binder before it is applied to the backing material. This makes it a versatile material that can be used in a variety of applications, from furniture upholstery to fashion accessories.

Comparison with Other Types of Leather

Bonded leather is often compared to other types of leather, including real leather, genuine leather, faux leather, and synthetic leather. Here is a brief comparison of bonded leather with other types of leather.

Real Leather

Real leather is made from animal hides and is considered the highest quality leather. It is durable, breathable, and has a unique texture and smell. However, it is also expensive and requires regular maintenance to keep it looking good.

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is made from the lower layers of the hide and is less expensive than real leather. It is still durable but has a more uniform appearance and lacks the unique texture of real leather.

Faux Leather

Faux leather is a synthetic material designed to look and feel like real leather. It is often made from polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and is less expensive than real or genuine leather. However, it is not as durable as real leather and can crack or peel over time.

Synthetic / PU Leather

Synthetic leather is any material that is designed to look like leather but is not made from animal hides. It can be made from a variety of materials, including PVC, PU, and other synthetic materials. It is less expensive than real or genuine leather but is not as durable.

Is Bonded Leather Good For Furniture?

Bonded leather is a popular material for furniture upholstery due to its durability, affordability, and versatility. It can be found on a wide range of furniture items, including chairs, sofas, and bookbinding covers.

One of the main advantages of using bonded leather on furniture is that it is a cost-effective alternative to genuine leather. Bonded leather is also a popular choice for furniture covers. It is highly resistant to stains and spills, making it easy to clean and maintain. This makes it a great option for families with young children or pets.

In addition to furniture, bonded leather can be found in a variety of leather goods, including bags, belts, briefcases, and wallets. It is often used as a lining material for these items, providing a durable and attractive finish.

Durability and Care

Bonded leather is not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leather. Over time, it is more likely to peel, crack, or fade due to its synthetic components. However, it is still a durable material that can last for several years with proper care.

To maintain the durability of bonded leather, it is important to keep it clean and dry. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can cause fading and drying out, leading to cracks and peeling. If the leather gets wet, wipe it down with a dry cloth and allow it to air dry in a cool, dry place.

It is also important to avoid scratching or tearing the surface of bonded leather. While it is more resistant to scratches than genuine leather, it can still be damaged by sharp objects or rough handling. To prevent scratches, avoid placing sharp objects on the leather surface and handle it with care.

How to Clean Bonded Leather

Regular cleaning is essential to maintain the appearance and durability of bonded leather. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the surface and remove any dust or dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the leather surface.

In summary, while bonded leather is not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leather, it can still last for several years with proper care. To maintain its durability, keep it clean and dry, avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat sources, and handle it with care to prevent scratches and tears.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Bonded leather is a popular alternative to genuine leather due to its lower cost. However, it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

One of the main advantages of bonded leather is its affordability. It is cheaper than genuine leather because it contains less than 20% real leather. This makes it a more affordable option for those who want the look of leather without the high cost. Bonded leather also comes in a variety of colours and styles, making it a versatile choice for furniture and accessories.

Another advantage of bonded leather is its environmentally friendly nature. It is made by reusing leftover leather without the need for extra farming and use of resources. This makes it a great choice for those who are environmentally conscious.

Bonded leather also has a smooth, consistent texture, unlike genuine leather, which has imperfections in the overall appearance. This can be an advantage for those who prefer a uniform look.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage of bonded leather is that it is not as durable as genuine leather. It is more prone to cracking and peeling over time, which can reduce its lifespan. This can be a significant disadvantage for those who want furniture or accessories that will last for years.

Another disadvantage of bonded leather is that it is not as breathable as genuine leather. This can make it uncomfortable to sit on for long periods, especially in warmer climates.

Finally, bonded leather has a glossy finish, which can make it look less natural than genuine leather. This can be a disadvantage for those who prefer the natural look of genuine leather.

Bonded Leather and the Environment

Bonded leather, sometimes referred to as reconstituted leather or blended leather, is often touted as an eco-friendly alternative to genuine leather, but how environmentally friendly is it really? Bonded leather is made from scraps and fibres leftover from real leather product manufacture, including full grain leather and top grain leather, that are then made into a pulp and backed with paper or fabric. While this process does make use of waste materials that would otherwise be discarded, the backing material often contains plastic, vinyl, or latex, which are not biodegradable and can be harmful to the environment.

One major issue with bonded leather is that it is not a sustainable material. The production of bonded leather requires a significant amount of energy and resources, especially when comparing leather vs full grain leather. It's a type of leather that cannot be treated like natural leather. This means that when bonded leather products, like leather furniture or other leather items, reach the end of their useful life, they often end up in landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Despite these concerns, bonded leather is still considered by some to be a more environmentally friendly option than genuine leather, which is sometimes referred to as genuine leather. This is because it makes use of waste materials that would otherwise be discarded, and it requires fewer resources to produce than genuine leather. However, it is important to note that bonded leather is not a sustainable material and should be used with caution.

Regulations and Standards

Bonded leather is a manufactured upholstery material that contains animal hide. There are various regulations and standards that apply to bonded leather to ensure its quality and authenticity.

In the European Union, there are regulations that define what can be called "leather" and what cannot. According to these regulations, bonded leather can be called "bonded leather" or "reconstituted leather", but it cannot be called "genuine leather". The regulations also require that the percentage of leather fibres in bonded leather must be disclosed on the product label.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has published a standard for bonded leather, EN 15987:2015. This standard specifies the requirements for the composition, physical properties, and performance of bonded leather. It also provides guidance on testing methods and quality control procedures.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations that require product labels to accurately describe the materials used in the product. If a product contains bonded leather, the label must indicate that it is "bonded leather" and not "genuine leather". The label must also disclose the percentage of leather fibres in the bonded leather.

There are also industry standards for bonded leather. For example, the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (AFMA) has a standard for bonded leather, AFMA A 2008. This standard defines the physical properties and performance requirements for bonded leather used in furniture.

FAQ - What you need to know about bonded leather

What is the difference between bonded leather and real leather?

Bonded leather is made by combining small pieces of real leather with synthetic materials. On the other hand, real leather is made from animal hides. Bonded leather is less expensive than real leather and has a more uniform appearance, but it is not as durable.

How long can bonded leather last?

The lifespan of bonded leather depends on how it is used and cared for. With proper care, bonded leather can last for several years. However, it is not as durable as real leather and may start to crack or peel over time.

Is bonded leather vegan-friendly?

Bonded leather is not considered vegan-friendly because it contains small amounts of real leather. While it is not made entirely from animal products, it does not meet the standards for veganism.

What materials are used to make bonded leather?

Bonded leather is made by combining small pieces of real leather with synthetic materials such as polyurethane. The leather pieces are ground into small fibres and mixed with the synthetic materials to create a material that resembles leather.

Can bonded leather be cleaned easily?

Bonded leather can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. However, it is important to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the material. It is also important to avoid getting the material too wet, as this can cause it to break down over time.