Coated leather is defined as a product that has a finish thickness of less than 30 percent but greater than 0.15 mm. The British Standards for leather state that if the leather is coated, the thickness of the surface layer must be less than 0.15 mm to be described as genuine leather; therefore, coated leather cannot be called genuine leather.
The material is coated by applying a surface layer of a chemical such as polyurethane to the grain side of the leather.
The advantages of coated leather are that it is much cheaper than genuine leather and has a consistent surface finish. However, coated leather doesn't look or feel like genuine leather and is nonporous, meaning the material doesn't breathe. Coated leather is much stiffer and less flexible than genuine leather and is much more likely to crack in hot and dry conditions.
For a product to be classed as genuine leather, a minimum of 80 percent of the product must be made from leather. Other forms of leather that are not classed as genuine include laminated leather, which consists of two or more layers of material with the laminate applied to the flesh side, and bonded leather fiber, which is made by disintegrating the tanned hide into fibrous particles that is then bonded into sheets of material.