Ideas + Advice


What Is Faux Leather? (What Is Faux Leather Made Of?)

If it's time to upgrade your furnishings, it's time to consider which type of upholstery would be best for your needs. You'll certainly discover many furnishings use faux leather.

What Is Faux Leather?

When searching for the perfect leather upholstery, you'll run into three main types: genuine, bonded and faux leathers.

Genuine leather is made from animal hides and is difficult to work with, driving up the cost. Bonded leather material mixes scraps of leftover genuine leather and "binds" it with plastics or paper.

The word "faux" means artificial or "made in the likeness of." Faux leather is imitation leather made from a plastic composite base and then covered with wax, polyurethane, or dyes to create a genuine leather appearance.

Manufacturers use faux leather in upholstery, footwear, and clothing. It's more cost-effective than genuine leather and easier to manipulate. Because it's manmade, faux leather has a more uniform appearance than genuine leather made from natural animal hides.

Benefits of Faux Leather

Faux leather is more cost-effective than genuine leather. Since it's manmade, faux leather is considered an upholstery option made without the use of animal products.

Quite a few finishes can be achieved with faux leather, from high-polished to matte. Faux fabric is also easier to maintain and clean, while genuine leather absorbs liquids quite readily if it hasn't been treated properly.
Faux leather can better withstand the scratches and scrapes of pets and small children over genuine leather coverings. Overall, faux leathers require little maintenance, hold up against UV fading, and won't crack or peel as readily as other options.

Keep In Mind

Ultimately, your choice in upholstery will come down to personal preference, but here are a few more things to keep in mind regarding faux leather options. As far as durability and cost, faux leather lands somewhere between genuine and bonded leathers.
Compared to real leather, faux may not be hypoallergenic as plastics and chemicals are used in the manufacturing process. Also, because of those plastics, faux leather manufacturing is not as environmentally friendly as the bonded or genuine options.
Faux leather does not wear to an aged patina or soften as genuine leather will do over time. And, if you're after the "real smell" of genuine leather, faux leather may not live up to your wishes.

Endless Design Options

  • Trunks and Tables: Designers cover functional pieces like storage trunks and ottomans with faux leather. Color choices and shades are endless with statement pieces, and these pieces can make a true visual impact. Some end tables and other hard furnishings mix faux leather design elements with wood or steel to create a mixed-material masterpiece.
  • Seating: Bar stools, dining room chairs, and office chair options are abundant in the faux leather department. The material is easy to wipe clean and holds up to hours of use.
  • Sofas, Sectionals, and Chairs: Most often found in neutral browns, beiges, and grays, faux leather seating options bring an air of sophistication to your living space, no matter if you're furnishing a cozy cabin or after a more modern design vibe.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.