Faux Leather vs Leather that is Authentic

Are you thinking of buying a new sofa but can’t decide between a faux leather vs leather that is authentic?  Keep on reading and I’m sure that you will find this helpful and come to a decision in no time.

To start, let’s find out what is Faux Leather and what is Real Leather.

Real Leather

Real leather is more commonly known as cowhide. 65% of leather comes from cattle hides. Other types of leather are also available which comes from other animals such as snake, alligator, buffalo, sheep, goat and more.

The leather is one of the earliest and greatest discoveries of mankind. Before technological advancements were made available, primitive man hunted animals for food and used their skin for clothing.

The Egyptian tombs artifacts and wall paintings dating back in the 1500 B.C. indicate that leather was used for bottles, clothes, buckets, shrouds to bury the dead and also military equipment

During the middle ages, leather became popular for use in dining chairs due to the fact that it was easy to maintain. When industrialization spread in the 18th and 19th centuries, it paved a way for a demand for a new kind of leather, such as belting leather to run machinery.

China is the country that produces the most leather in the world. Next to China, are Brazil, Italy, Russia, India. Today, there is roughly about 15% demand for leather for upholstery use.

Types of Leather Sofa

1. Aniline Leather – this is the most aesthetically pleasing as there is little or no surface coating used to protect the sofa from spills and scratches. It can be dyed, however, you can still see more of the natural characteristics of animal hide compared to one that is coated.

2. Semi-Aniline Leather – compared to aniline leather, this has a slightly thicker coating, therefore, more stain resistant. The dye color is more consistent throughout the entire sofa.

3. Pigmented Leather – This is far more protected than the aniline and semi-aniline as it has a thicker polymer coating. To protect against fading and scratches, the majority of leather sofas use pigmented leather.

Various types of pigmented leather:

1. Full-grain – protective coating is applied without altering the grain of the natural leather.

2. Corrected grain – the leather’s imperfections are sanded and buffed before the coating is applied.  A pattern may be embossed onto it to get the full-grain look.

3. Antique Grain – a color coating with a darker toned top layer is used and slightly rub onto it to give it a weathered look appearance.

Advantages of Real Leather

1. Extremely durable.

2. Its marks, scars, veins and blemishes add characteristics and give it a distinctive beauty.

3. It becomes more attractive as it ages.

4. Over time, it becomes softer and more comfortable.

5. Doesn’t absorb smells.

6. More environmentally friendly than faux.

7. It is low maintenance. It only needs a regular wiping using a clean, damp cloth.

Disadvantages of Real Leather

1. More expensive than its counterparts.

2. The color can fade when subjected to constant sunlight.

3. It is very porous and absorbent that a drop of liquid needs to be wiped instantly to prevent stains, thus, a pigmented leather is more practical.

Faux Leather

Artificial leather, also known as synthetic leather, is marketed under many names and Faux leather is one of them. Others names include “leatherette”, “vegan leather”, “PU leather” and “PVC leather”. Faux leather is a cheaper alternative for leather. It is used to manufacture products, such as upholstery, footwear, clothing, to name a few. It is made from a plastic base and treated with PVC or Poly Vinyl Chloride or with PU or Polyurethane.

Three Types of Faux Leather

(all these three types are highly durable and stain resistant)

1.Polyurethanes – polyurethane faux leathers are becoming more popular to residential buyers. In general, it is softer and it closely resembles the actual look and feel of a leather compared to vinyl.

2.Vinyl Fabrics – due to higher vinyl cost, this has become far less popular for residential furniture. Where durability is the most important factor, like in a commercial and industrial setting, vinyl is more widely used.

3. Microfiber leathers – are lesser in popularity compared to polyurethanes and vinyl as they don’t quite resemble the look and feel of leather.

Advantages of Faux Leather

1. It has a similar appearance and feel like that of the real leather but more affordable.

2. Low maintenance.  Cleaning is easily done once a week by wiping it gently using a microfiber cloth and a mixture of water with a small amount of dish soap.

3. It is machine made, therefore, can be dyed into several colors and is usually made fade resistant.

4. No animals are harmed in producing it, the reason why some prefer it over the real leather.

Disadvantages of Faux Leather

1. Less durable than real leather. It has about a third of the real leather lifespan.

2. Thinner than the real leather and has a plastic smell or rubber.

3. It becomes uncomfortable in time, as it cracks and splits.

4. Unlike leather that develops luster overtime, faux leather doesn’t have that characteristic.


What’s the verdict? Faux or Real Leather?

Many faux leathers look like the real thing. It really comes down to you, the user. What are you looking for?  What speaks to you?  If you’re not budget constraint and beauty and durability is what you’re after, go with the authentic leather. As for me, I opted for faux leather.  I like its leather-look appearance and the budget-friendly tag price. I replaced my seven-year-old faux leather when we painted our home last year.  I could have kept my old faux leather furniture (still in good condition), but nah, I have my entire house painted, I wanted new pieces to go with it :).

my old faux leather furniture

I was happy with my choice and quite certain that I made the right decision…. AND guess what? I wasn’t the only satisfied customer, she was quite happy and comfy with my choice as well 🙂

my faux leather sofa in my living room


(2) Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this article. It helps with my decision making process on my next sofa purchase.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      You’re welcome. I’m happy I was able to help you.

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