If you’re a shopaholic person, you might have already realized that the market is flooded with various kinds of leathers. Leather shopping has become an increasingly arduous task.
Nowadays, even the labels of the products can be misleading, making it all the more troublesome to determine the differences between real leather and artificial leather.
Some people watch out for genuine leather, while others may want to choose a more economical route and opt for artificial or synthetic leather. PU Leather is becoming an increasingly widely used artificial leather, but what is exactly PU Leather, precisely?
1) PU Leather
PU leather in layman’s terms is that Pu Leather is simply artificial leather. Polyurethane leather, often cut short to Pu Leather, is a synthetic leather made up of polyurethane, which is a plastic with a similar feel and aspect to the leather.
PU leather is used for making furniture or shoes. 100% Pu Leather is completely synthetic and is considered vegan.
Pu leather is a petroleum-based alternative to genuine leather. This leather does not involve the use of real animal skin in it’s making. Just like real leather, it is soft to touch and also water-resistant.
One could say that Pu Leather was created to deceive your sense of sight and touch, and a lot of people who aren’t connoisseurs can fail in telling the two apart!
Being water-resistant makes this fabric highly immune to stains, and it easy to launder.
Pu leather is produced using a different procedure than bonded leather. Real leather scraps are precisely crushed together to create bonded leather. After that, they are put on a paper backing.
The remaining layer of residual leather is then covered with a polyurethane coating, which is embossed to give it a leather-like texture.
Although Pu Leather is less durable than real leather, it is invulnerable to both abrasion and cuts; hence it is ideal for upholstery in homes with children or pets.
2) Alternative Names Of PU Leather
The alternative names of PU leather are
- Faux Leather
- Bicast Leather
- Vegan Leather
- Reconstituted Leather
- Reconstituted Leather
- Corrected Grain Leather
So if you are informed about PU leather, you don’t have to be worried about knowing the others!
3) Pros and Cons of PU Leather
3.1) PU Leather Pros
PU leather is much more economical because of the procedure of making and the materials involved in it.
It is shiny and has a well-finished appearance. It also has a resemblance to real leather or actual leather.
3.1.3) Easy to Handle
PU leather is lighter in weight, making it much easier to handle.
3.1.4) Low Maintenance
It does not absorb water and thus can be cleaned with the help of a wet cloth too!
3.1.5) Does Not Run Dry
Genuine leather can often run dry if not looked after properly. However, this is not the case with PU leather.
3.2) PU Leather Cons
It has a distinct smell because of the chemicals used.
It is thicker than real leather; thus can be bulky in some cases.
It cannot withstand heat, unlike genuine leather.
PU leather is not as breathable as genuine leather.
- Do not enhance
This leather does not develop the same luster or platina as real leather over time.
Chemicals that are used are not organic. Thus they do not biodegrade in the environment over time. This leather, once discarded, stays in the environment for a much longer time.
4) Genuine Leather
Pu leather excites you, you might also want to know about genuine leather. Walking across the leather store, seeing products labeled as ‘genuine leather‘ does give out a warm and fuzzy feeling inside you, as if you’re getting real leather, right?
I hate to break the bubble, but it is not what you think! Genuine leather is simply leather that uses a bit of leather in the processing and is not purely synthetic.
The deepest level of the layer is genuine leather, which also connects to the flesh of the animal. It is relatively more expensive than PU leather because it does involve the use of real animal hide but is less expensive than top-grain or full-grain leather.
It is the cheapest among actual leathers because it has the least dense texture, and its processing relies on the usage of synthetic materials too.
4.1) The “Genuine Leather” Tag!
Now, what is a Genuine leather tag?
Always keep in mind that genuine leather, rather than being a “qualitative term,” is a “descriptive term.” Many of the corrected leather look-alike the grain leather.
Here are two ways to know what the product of your interest actually made of: Cut the leather open or ask a sales representative about the same. I’d suggest sticking to the second option.
This might seem a bit time consuming and arduous, but trust me, it is going to be worth it, and long-lasting joy with your choice of product will be the reward.
5) Pros and Cons of Genuine Leather
5.1) Pros of Genuine Leather
Real or genuine leather looks more luxurious look than PU leather.
Due to the authenticity of real leather, i.e., the materials used in it, it lasts much longer than Pu leather. It does not tear away or develop cracks, provided it is looked after.
5.1.3) Gets Better Over Time
The luster and platina of real leather increase as it is used more often.
5.2) Cons of Genuine Leather
- Higher price
Again, owing to the authenticity of real leather, PU leather costs us a hefty amount.
- High maintenance
Genuine leather absorbs water. Thus care has to be taken about the laundering part!
6) Full-Grain Leather and Split Leather?
Till now, I have briefed you about PU leather and genuine leather, but you’ll be surprised to know but grades of leather are extended beyond PU leather and genuine leather.
Here, we’ll dive in deeper to know the difference between quality leather and the rest. Putting it straight, there are two basic grades of leather full-grain leather and split leather.
These grades are irrespective of which animal the hide comes from. These grades are the same but what differentiates them is what section of hiding the leather is made from.
6.1) Full-Grain Leather
“Grain” and “Corium” are included in full-grain leather. Beauty strength and character to the leather are imported by the grain. Products made from full-grain are very long-lasting and very sought-after leather product.
So, is the presence of grain the only distinguishing feature of full-grain leather? The answer is ‘Yes.’
Beauty lies in simplicity, and full-grain leather justifies it as it is the least processed, most natural form of leather. Its simplicity makes it the least commonly available and the most expensive form of leather.
Full-grain leather is raw; that is, you can see distinguished markings and no to hide simultaneously. It is not unusual to find a little scar, insect bites, and folds in the skin acquired by an animal over its lifetime. Each product made of full grain leather has a different story to tell.
7) How Is PU Leather Made?
After knowing PU leather, you must be curious to know how is PU leather made!
Here I have it sorted for you!
The most prevalent way to create PU leather is using a cover of plastic polyurethane and apply it to a base made of fiber, generally polyester.
The steps can be summed as follows-
- Start with the base fabric material.
- Polyurethane coating is applied.
- Painting it with the desired color by adding an extra layer of coating
- Add the final texture of the final touch!
Check out this video to know more!
8) How To Identify PU Leather?
It is important to understand discrimination between PU leather and authentic leather, lest you want to be thugged by the shopkeeper!
When buying a leather product, the most obvious way is to look at the tag or description. It is quite a possibility that the products do not have a tag. Thus being able to know the distinctions will be useful.
The most striking difference you will find is the expense. Genuine leather is normally more expensive than PU leather as the production process is laborious, and various expensive materials are used. So, in comparison, PU leather is cheaper than genuine leather.
8.2) Water Test
While buying any kind of leather, you’re advised to do a water test is also an easy way of determining its quality. Performing a water test is also an easy way to find out if the leather is real or fake.
Caution, do not do a water test on an item you do not own because genuine leather will absorb the water. However, PU leather will not absorb the water.
If the products are brand new, the smell tells it all! Genuine leather will have a very unique and leathery smell to it.
As you know, PU leather is and how it is made synthetically, it smells very artificial, like plastic. So just by smelling the product, you could figure out the difference within a couple of seconds.
This method works only on new products. In the used or older product, it can be quite tricky as the smell wanes away quickly.
If you have a hawk-eye, you may figure out the difference by merely looking at the product. Real leather will have minute imperfections and have a genuine grain, which gives the product a vintage look. Pu leather is likely to have almost an ideal pattern textured look.
9) Differences Between PU Leather and Real Leather
Here I chalk out the major differences between PU leather and Real Leather!
9.1) Strength and Durability
As we know that both types of leather have a very similar texture. However, PU material is usually thinner, which means that it has lesser durability as it can be torn more easily, unlike real leather. PU leather is vulnerable to cracks and bends over a few years.
The real leather is much sturdy and more durable. Its luster and texture are also seen to be enhanced as it is used more often.
9.2) Resistance to Sunlight
It may come as a shock, but PU leather is more resistant to the sun’s rays than animal leather. Going to this property, it is more widely used for upholstery, decorative interior items such as couches, armchairs, and also for cars and motorcycles.
With PU level providing greater variety for thickness, colors, and texture than conventional leather, it is also easier and more convenient to maintain.
Its cleaning requires only occasional wet clothes, while animal leather tends to dry out and has to be handled delicately to prevent deterioration.
Pu leather will always maintain the same field texture and appearance; however, genuine leather tends to become softer and way more attractive over time. Its luster and Platina enhance over time.
Although PU leather is more breathable than other synthetic leathers such as the PVC, it is much less breathable than genuine leather.
10) Take on The Environment!
Since you know about PU leather, I want you to know its environmental impact before you start using it!
PU leather production, in general, adversely impacts the environment.
You may want to question why because it does not involve the killing of animals. Ironically, animal life is harmed by the steady accumulation of this non-biodegradable material in the Earth’s system.
The production of fossil fuel derivatives such as Ethylene, used in leather production, inevitably ejaculates toxic substances into the ecosystem.
You are well aware of PU leather and how it is a non-biodegradable substance; it remains in the environment even after it is discarded.
Scientists do not have precise information about how long it takes for a synthetic leather to biodegrade. However, the most reputable estimates project that the materials will remain in the environment for at least 200 – 500 years from their date of manufacturing.
It is a tragedy since genuine leather biodegrades within a decade or two, but synthetic leather’s polluting potential is relatively much greater.
Animal rights activists extolled the virtues of PU leather. It does not require killing animals for their leather. On the other hand, environmental activists bemoan the fact that PU leather or synthetic leather does not biodegrade over the years. The production of these substances releases harmful chemicals into the environment too!
In the recent past, manufacturers have developed vegetable-based synthetic leather, which is witnessing widespread acceptance.
This is because it seems to be the perfect solution to ethical concerns surrounding genuine leather production and the environmental concerns regarding the production of PU leather.
I hope after reading this article and gathering information about PU leather will help you distinguish between real or fake leather and save you from being conned.
-Edited by Steffy Michael|6/7/22