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Bonded Leather vs Faux Leather (Compared)

Photo collage of Bonded and faux leather.

When looking for genuine leather substitutes, there are so many options that can make the decision difficult. On your search, you may have found Bonded Leather and Faux leather options. These leathers are really similar to each other, so what exactly is the difference between these two?

Bonded leather is made from shredding up scraps of genuine leather, mixing them with bonding materials, and pouring them on a backing. In contrast, Faux leather is made using synthetic materials that are poured onto a backing like paper. Faux leather has no animal hide, while Bonded leather does.  

These two types of leather may seem like a good bet when looking for something that has a leather look but not the genuine leather price tag. But what are the disadvantages of these alternative leathers? And what are the individual benefits that they can offer you?

And what is the price difference between these two? Well, let us have a look.

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What is Bonded Leather?

This is the interior of a car with leather upholstery.

Bonded leather is used to describe a manufactured upholstery material that contains animal hide. Bonded leather is also sometimes referred to as blended leather or reconstituted leather. Bonded leather is made using leather scraps that are shredded and mixed with other leather fibers; then, this leather mixture is mixed with some bonding materials.

This is then extruded onto a paper backing or even a cloth to give structure to the leather. Once the leather mixture has coated the top side of the paper backing or cloth, the surface is then embossed with a leather-like grain or texture. If the bonded leather is going to be colored, then it is added as a surface treatment to the bonded leather.

This color is not a dye and does not penetrate deep into the material as a dye would, but bonded leather is available in many different colors, so you can easily find the color you need to match your style. The amount of natural leather in every piece of bonded leather varies from piece to piece. The process of making bonded leather is strikingly similar to the manufacturing process to make paper.

What is Faux Leather?

A close look at artificial leather in various shades of brown.

Faux leather is a term that describes a leather-like material that is made from 100% synthetic materials, meaning that Faux leather does not contain any animal hide. There are two kinds of Faux leather manufactured today: Vinyl (PVC – polyvinyl chloride) Faux leather and PU (polyurethane) Faux leather.  This artificial leather does go by many different names, though.

This leather is also known as imitation leather, leatherette, pleather, and vegan leather. The PU Faux leather is made by coating a backing fabric like polyester, cotton with a flexible polymer that is then treated to give it a leather look. PU Faux leather is one of the best imitation leathers that you can get as it has the same hand feel when you touch the surface as genuine leather.

This Faux leather also “breaks” and wrinkles when stitched, tufted, or gathered just like genuine leather does. Vinyl Faux leather is made from two different synthetic materials, which are polyester and vinyl. So, it first starts with the polyester fibers being coated with the vinyl that is melted onto the surface of the polyester fibers, in effect sealing them closed.

It is then treated to look like genuine leather. Both of these Faux leathers come in many different colors, so you can easily find something that suits your style.

What Makes Them Different From Each Other?

Even though these two alternatives to genuine leather look similar and can replicate the look and feel of genuine leather quite well, Bonded leather and Faux leather are pretty different from each other. Bonded leather is made from scraps of genuine leather and therefore is still made out of animal products. Faux leather is entirely free of all animal products as it is made out of man-made materials.

But for you to get a complete understanding of which one may be better suited for your needs, we need to take a look at all the pros and cons that these leather products have.

Pros And Cons Of Bonded Leather

Bonded leather tends to be less expensive when compared to the price of genuine leather, so it is pretty cost-effective if you are on a budget. This leather is also made with varying surface textures, so you can get in pieces that feel a bit like genuine leather or pieces that don’t if that is not what you want or you have an aversion to how natural leather feels. You can even get pieces that have a pattern on them.

Bonded leather is available in many different colors, meaning you can find what you want in a color that suits your style. Banded leather can be used in multiple different types of goods and products, so you can easily find an item you are looking for in Bonded leather rather than genuine leather.

This is a close look at the car seat upholstery with a tan color.

Bonded leather is generally made in large sheets that are great for large area applications like furniture. If you are trying to DIY furniture or spruce up an existing piece, you can find a sheet of Bonded leather big enough to cover it easily. Even though Bonded leather does not exactly match the feel of genuine leather, it does look and smell like genuine leather, so you can get the look you want for less money.

Bonded leather is also quite easy to maintain and does not require a lot to keep it looking nice. Even with all of these great benefits, bonded leather also has some disadvantages that you should be aware of. Unfortunately, Bonded leather has poor durability and is prone to peeling, even if you take care of it correctly.

This leather only lasts for up to two years, after which the quality of the product will begin to decline, meaning that this leather does not age well. Bonded leather is very stiff and thin, which means that it can tear and get punctured easily. This material is not breathable, so if you are sitting on it or using the item for a long time, you will get hot, and it will become uncomfortable as you sweat because the sweat has nowhere to go.

Pros And Cons Of Faux Leather

This is a close look at a matte patterned yellow faux leather.

Faux leather is a very affordable material when compared to the price of genuine leather. This material does not contain any animal hide, so it is considered a cruelty-free product that vegans can use too. As Faux leather is made from artificial substances, it is quite resistant to peeling, cracking, and fading from UV light exposure, and it can last well over two years if looked after properly.

Luckily, this material is quite easy to clean and maintain. This material can also be polished to have different looks, like a gloss finish or a matte finish, depending on what you are looking for. There are still some disadvantages that Faux leather has; for example, even though the leather has been highly modified over the years to be durable, this material does still crack and tear easily when compared to genuine leather.

Faux leather does also comes with a slight synthetic smell that can put some people off of it. This material is not breathable, so you can get sweaty and uncomfortable after a long time of using the item. As this material is made from man-made substances, it is not biodegradable and can cause some damage to the environment over time.

What is the Cost Difference Between these Leathers?

This is a crumpled silver faux leather fabric.

So, these two genuine leather substitutes both have their good parts and bad parts, but if you are cost-conscious, you want to know exactly what the difference in price is between these two materials. Let us look at the average cost of Bonded and Faux leather. Bonded leather will generally cost about $22.95 per yard of leather.

Whereas Faux leather generally costs about $11.95 per yard. So, there is quite a substantial difference in the price of these to substitute leathers. 


There are significant differences between these two alternative types of leather, and the one that will suit you best will depend on your needs. With that being said, Faux leather is cheaper, more durable, more eco-friendly, and it is easy to clean and maintain. You can also get it in a wide range of colors and textures to suit your style.

These facts are why our preference is the Faux leather option out of these two.