Bonded leather is a term that often confuses customers. Products made from it are usually quite cheap, and most people consider them a bargain. After all, it is real leather. Yet, it offers little quality, and most users regret their purchases because they have to replace them time and time again. So, let’s cover the question “What does bonded leather mean?“, so there is no confusion for your next purchase.
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Is it real leather?
Technically speaking, yes. Bonded leather contains real leather, but the process of making it is a lot different when comparing it to pure leather.
First of all, real leather is made from animal hides. Hides come in various shapes and sizes, which means that the final product itself will be a bit irregular. In addition, real leather sometimes has visible markings, and it looks more natural.
In contrast, manufacturers make bonded leather by combining all the scraps that have been left behind after the leather-making process.
For example, a cowhide might have a few scars. The manufacturer can cut them out and leave the scraps in the bonded leather pile. Once he has enough scraps, he can then go ahead and combine them with polyurethane. The parts are glued to a fibrous backing. Afterward, the manufacturer coats the material with polish to make it more leather-like.
However, you have to bear in mind that the amount of scraps in bonded leather depends on the manufacturers. Most of the time, they only use about 20% of real leather so that they would not have to classify it as faux leather.
The quality of bonded leather
Many companies use bonded leather to create cheap, leather-looking products, which allows them to cater to a wider audience. However, their customers often think they are buying low-cost real leather. The truth is that they are getting low-grade bonded leather.
That does not mean that bonded leather isn’t durable. But, in comparison to full grain leather, it is a low-quality option.
For example, if you buy a bonded leather sofa, you can expect it to look worn out in a few years. Meanwhile, a real leather sofa could look as good as new for decades.
Even though proper care can help it stay durable for a bit longer, bonded leather will still start to crack and peel off at some point, which will rather be sooner than later.
Why do people buy bonded leather?
Bonded leather is not a bad option if you are an extreme vegan-type of person. This type of leather allows you to achieve a certain look without “hurting” animals as much as real leather products. Although, leather comes as a byproduct from the meat industry, people tend to not know or choose not to know the fact. In addition, the process involves recycling, which is looked at favorably in today’s high-waste environment.
Bonded leather is also a great option if you are living on a budget. It doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money to get the similar effect. Most customers cannot even tell the real leather from the bonded one.
People often decide to invest in bonded leather furniture because it is an inexpensive and yet stylish option. Leather furniture blends in with most interiors, and it adds a touch of class to your living room. With proper care, bonded leather can last you from a few to a several years, depending on its usage.
Disadvantages of bonded leather
Why should you stay away from bonded leather? For starters, it is not an excellent material.
For example, when it comes to temperature, real leather will keep us cool in summer, and warm in winter. Meanwhile, bonded leather will do just the opposite.
Furthermore, bonded leather is not as durable as real leather. When used for handbags and belts, it starts to fall apart soon, even if you are taking good care of your purchases. When the material comes in contact with our skin, sweat, and dirt, it starts peeling. That makes the products look old and cheap quite early in its life.
How to take care of your bonded leather goods?
Unlike real leather, bonded leather can crack if you are not conditioning it frequently. That is especially true when it comes to furniture and other high-usage products.
The sweat and the dirt will seep into the material and cause the pieces to break off. Therefore, it is vital to clean bonded leather goods at least once a week. In addition, you should use a high-quality leather conditioner to keep them looking fresh and add some layer of protection.
Just like with other kinds of leather, you should avoid keeping bonded leather near radiators and other types of heaters. Furthermore, you should also keep it away from direct sunlight. Sunshine makes the color fade, and it could also lead to cracks and peeling.
I hope this article shed some light over the question of ‘what does bonded leather mean?’ After all, it’s not as evident as one may think, and therefore it might be good to do some sort of research before purchasing a bonded leather product.
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