What Is Bonded Leather?
Bonded leather is a combination of real leather and other materials. In the leather manufacturing process, there will always be scraps. Instead of wasting scraps, manufacturers mix them with a binder.
The leftover leather fibers are glued on a paper backing. In general, bonded leather is made only of about 20% leather. As such, it still qualifies as faux leather.
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Do companies call bonded leather by other names?
Yes, they do. Below are the most common alternative names for it:
- Faux leather
- Reconstituted leather
- Composite leather
- Vinyl leather
- Blended leather
Bicast leather is different from the bonded one. Bicast leather comes from solid leather that receives an artificial coating. Bonded leather is a structured layer of feather fibers. On most occasions, bonded leather also has natural rubber. Both of them are faux leather types. If you are interested in learning about other types of leathers we have an article on PU leather.
Whats the best way to clean bonded leather?
Bonded leather is prone to peeling which is why you need to clean it correctly. Less abrasion with bonded leather is better so try to avoid cleaning brushes. Simply use a leather cleaner and a microfiber towel or leather cleaning sponge. Spray the leather cleaner on the surface of the leather and wipe with the towel and sponge.
Is Bonded Leather Real Or Fake?
Bonded leather is not pure. It does have a small percentage of leather in it. It is also strengthened by the bond and paper backing.
What manufacturers do is emboss the leather to make it look 100% genuine. During the manufacturing process, scraps of real leather go through shredding. The shredded leather goes into a mix of bonding materials.
Once they extrude on a paper backing, the leather comes out. The process involves embossing. It makes the end product develop a grain or texture. The process for making bonded variants of leather is similar to making papers.
Because of this process, one cannot call bonded types of leather fake. “Impure” is the proper word to call it, but it is still made of leather. If you want to learn about a pure leather, nubuck leather is what you will want to look at.
Why do people make bonded leather?
People like this kind of leather for reasons of cost and conservation. Real leather requires animal hide. However, one animal can only produce a few square feet of it.
People developed bonded leather to reduce the cost of making pure leather. Another reason is to reduce the carbon footprint of animal production.
There are many products that use bonded types of leather. Some examples are:
- Furniture upholstery
- Shoe components
- Cases and covers for mobile devices
- Belts, handbags, and briefcases
- Textile and accessory linings
This type of leather—bonded—is an excellent alternative to the real deal. It is also a great way to recycle scraps of leather production instead of letting them go to waste
Is bonded leather as durable as real leather?
No, it is not as durable as genuine leather. Since it is made from scraps, it is thin. It also easily scratches and peels.
Bonded leather is best used in books. They are also great for items that are not subject to heavy wear and tear. Some examples of these are the lining of a picture frame or the backing of a painting frame.
A better alternative to bonded variants of leather is PU leather. PU leather is made from real leather and polyurethane. Some variations are 100% synthetic. These types of leather are mainly used to provide what environmentalists and vegans demand.
Why even use bonded leather?
Bonded leather uses scrap leather. Because of this, there is no necessity to farm more animals for the purpose of making leather. With fewer animals farmed, the less carbon footprint there is.
Bonded leather is ideal for some uses. They come from materials that would otherwise be wasted If not used, the leather will just end up in landfills. Overall, it does help the environment, and it is affordable.
Is bonded leather good?
It depends on what you mean. If you are looking for something that would last a lifetime, then no, it is not good. In fact, there is no leather variety that beats the genuine one.
It is an excellent choice for things that you do not expect to keep forever. An excellent example is a phone or tablet casing. Surely, you want to replace these things time and time again.
Bonded variants of leather are also ideal for book covers. After reading a book, you store it. The bonded leather will not go through serious wear and tear.
For things like wallets and clothing, not bonded leather is not good. It will peel off easily. For clothing, shoes, and upholstery, one of the best alternatives to real leather is PU leather.
How long will bonded leather last?
About two to three years. Most furniture makers use bonded leather. Most of the time, they use bonded leather to upholster a sofa set.
These sofas will last two to three years, depending on usage and the environment. If it is too hot, the leather will crack and peel off. The same thing will happen if you have kids jumping on the sofa.
So, how come the leather does not last so long? The shredding process is the culprit here. Since the scrap leather was shredded, it lost its bind. Despite using bonds to put the fibers against a paper backing, it is still not durable. There is just no way to replicate a genuine leather’s durability.
Continuous use will also contribute to the breakdown of the bonded leather. Sweat, oil, and dirt will compromise the bonding strength between the leather fiber and the paper backing.
Bonded Leather vs Real Leather
To give you a perspective, below are some of the most common differences between bonded and genuine leather.
Difference in Cost
Bonded leather is way cheaper than genuine one. It takes a lot of animal skin to produce a square foot or yard of leather. Generally, cowhide costs about £12 per square foot.Other leathers are costly to produce. For example, alligator and crocodile farms spend a lot of money growing the animals. Since these animals are carnivores, it also goes that it is more expensive to feed them.
On the other hand, cow leather is cheaper. Why? Because growing them only requires grass and feeds, both of which are cheaper than meat. Demand is also key. Since people will eat beef anyway, cowhide is always consistent in production.
Difference in Durability
Real leather is definitely more durable. Genuine leather is a single piece of skin sewn together where it meets another leather. Over time, it also develops a patina on its natural surface, making it look really good.
On the other hand, bonded leather is shredded. Because of this process, the leather is broken down, and its durability is compromised. All types of impure leather will peel off easily. It is only a matter of time before they do.
Finally, nothing beats genuine leather as far as appearance is concerned. The only problem with genuine leather is its color. Also, the texture is inconsistent. However, it does not mean that it is not beautiful.
Bonded leather comes in many colors. Despite this, it does not come close to what real leather looks like. Bonded leather is smooth to touch and may have a uniform look. The thing is that it simply does not capture the classic look of old leather.
Summary: What is Bonded Leather?
Bonded leather is not fake leather, but it is not pure either. Bonded leather is made of scrap leather shredded and put back together. What holds the leather fibers is the paper backing. Different manufacturers use different types of bonding agents.
Bonded leather is environment-friendly, as it uses scrap leather. It is also affordable. Bonded leather is not durable. However, it will do for many projects where longevity is not an issue.