Q:

What is bonded leather?

A:

Quick Answer

Bonded leather consists of scraps of real leather, such as cowhide, mixed with polyurethane plastic to create a material that resembles genuine leather. Also called vinyl, this bonded or "reconstituted" leather is attached to a hard-fiber backing and is coated or polished by a manufacturer to make it look more like leather. Real leather is made entirely from durable animal hide.

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What is bonded leather?
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Full Answer

According to manufacturing standards, bonded leather should include from 60 to 100 percent natural leather scraps and fibers left over from the production of items constructed from real leather. Manufacturers and retailers selling specific products determine any notice that's supplied to customers concerning the percentage of natural leather used in furniture.

It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between high-quality bonded leather and genuine leather because they smell and look nearly identical. The dissimilarity lies in durability. Real leather feels a bit harder and has a little less give than reconstituted leather. Couches and recliners made of bonded leather are difficult to repair and may require expensive reupholstering. However, bonded leather lends a fancier appearance to book covers, makes cheaply made accessories look expensive and adds sophistication to office furniture. The most important factor to consider when purchasing an item made with bonded leather is how long it is expected to last.

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