What Is PU Leather?
The word PU in “PU leather” stands for polyurethane. PU leather is an artificial type of leather that uses polymers. Specifically, the polymer used in PU leather is thermoplastic. A thermoplastic polymer includes all kinds of plastic that become malleable when heated. Once they cool, they become inert materials.
So, is PU leather durable? Is it worth buying, and is it vegan? We’ll answer all these questions, and much more in this article, so keep on reading!
Table of Contents
Is PU leather called by other names?
Yes, PU Leather comes in many names. Below are the most common ones.
- Bicast leather
- Split Leather
- Reconstituted Leather
- Bonded Leather
- Corrected Grain Leather
All these types of leather are artificial, and they all use thermoplastic polymers. The names are different because the processes used vary.
How To Clean PU Leather?
PU leather can be cleaned by a suitable leather cleaner and a leather cleaning brush. To see how to appropriately clean leather visit our product page and watch the how to video.
Is PU Leather Vegan?
PU Leather is vegan only if it is 100% PU. If not, then it is likely that the product has real leather. However, it has a polyurethane coating at the top makes it durable.
For example, bicast leather has real leather. But then, the manufacturer uses polyurethane to strengthen the material. As such, this kind of leather is not vegan.
Even if there are leather bits in them, PU leather is not always 100% pure leather. Most of these are made of the fibrous part of the cowhide. These are leftovers from making real leather. Instead of discarding these raw materials, they are made into synthetic leather.
Is PU leather as good as real leather?
No, PU leather is not as good as the real one. It is an excellent alternative, but genuine leather far outshines PU material.
Pure leather looks better. It is also more durable. What makes pure leather better is that it has a distinct character.
As far as durability is concerned, PU is also not as durable as the real deal. Plastic peels over time, and this can happen to PU leather. Other leather alternatives include bonded leather.
Does PU leather mean fake?
If the PU leather is 100%, then it is fake leather because it is made of 100% plastic material. There is no real animal hide in there.
But then, one can argue that some PU leathers actually contain animal parts, so they are only half-fake. Some would say they are a hybrid—part animal and part synthetic.
Generally speaking, any PU leather is not pure leather. For as long as the word “pure” is not in the leather tag, then it is not 100% made of animal hide.
Is PU leather better than faux leather?
Faux leather is also an artificial type of leather. This type of leather is mainly used in sofas, upholstery, auto seats, and clothing.
Faux leather has three main types:
- Polyurethane (PU)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Silicone (“sileather”)
As you can see, PU leather is faux leather, so comparing the two is not possible. Silicone leather is unique as it has properties that both PU and PVC do not have.
Among the three, silicone has many advantages. It does not break down under UV light, whereas the two other leather types do. Silicone also does not deteriorate in cold temperatures.
Today, silicone leather is probably the best alternative to pure leather. It is excellent for sofas, car seats, and other big-ticket items that call for leather.
Many silicone leather manufacturers now use solvent-free production processes. These types of leather are environmentally friendly, and they are also safe for use.
PU Leather vs PVC Leather: what is better?
Both PU and PVC materials are man-made. They do not come from animal skins. However, the end product may contain animal hide.
For PU leather, polyurethane is applied to the top of the leather material. The PU gives an excellent finish, and it also makes the fabric flexible. On the other hand, PVC leather has a foam layer and then a plastic coating.
Of the two, PVC leather is more durable because it has a foam layer. PU leather, however, is thin. PU leather is mainly developed for its flexibility. It is why PU is often used in clothing.
PU is also likely to wrinkle over time. On the other hand, PVC leather can stand extreme weather and wear and tear.
Since PU is thinner, it is more breathable. PVC leather has too many layers, making it difficult for air to pass through.
Because of this, PU leather is more prevalent in clothing like jackets. In addition, PU leather also has more pores than PVC leather, making it suitable for clothing projects.
However, the pores also make the PU leather absorbent. Therefore, they are susceptible to stains. Because of this, furniture manufacturers prefer to use PVC leather on their products.
Of the two, PVC is more durable. Its lack of pores and various layers make it more durable than PU. Since Because PVC leather is more durable than PU, manufacturers use it for upholstery and shoes.
These two products are subject to heavy wear and tear. PU is the better choice for clothing because of its flexibility and breathability.
Is PU leather waterproof?
To some degree, PU leather is water-resistant, but not waterproof. PU leather has pores, so water will still penetrate it.
Some clothing manufacturers use PU leather with other materials. Examples of these are cotton, rayon, polyester, and others. When combined with PU leather, these materials offer different levels of water resistance. However, no PU leather is waterproof. Even genuine leather is not waterproof. Pure leather can resist water, but it is not waterproof. To waterproof leather materials, you need to apply wax to them. There are waterproofing sprays available in the market today, which consumers can use to protect their leather.
What are the pros and cons of PU leather?
Here are the pros of PU leather:
- Highly affordable
- Flexible; they are easy to use and convert into end-products like clothing
- Breathable; they are ideal for clothing and other forms of wearables
- Easy to clean
- It comes in various colors and styles
- It can last long and will not easily dry
If the PU leather is 100%, it is vegan. What it means is that it is sustainable to produce.
Here are the cons of PU leather:
- It does not look classy
- Not as breathable as the real leather
- It can smell like plastic
- The leather will crack and peel over time
PU leather looks fake. As such, fashionistas avoid PU leather-like the plague. And because they look fake, they also look cheap. However, vegans prefer using it, provided that the PU leather is 100% synthetic. It does not involve the killing of animals.
PU leathers pose another problem, though. Since they are plastic, they do not readily decompose. What it means is that they are not eco-friendly.No product is perfect for everyone’s advocacy. In the end, PU is best for sustainability. But then, it does not provide the same level of quality as the real deal.
Summary: What is PU Leather?
PU leather is synthetic leather, which is a type of faux leather. PU stands for polyurethane, a type of plastic used to coat the top of pure leather. Some PU leather is 100% synthetic, so they are vegan-friendly. Some use animal hide by-products, and the PU is coated on top.
PU leather is not as durable as real leather and PVC or silicone leather. However, among all synthetic leather, it is the most breathable. It is an ideal alternative to real leather when used for clothing.