Bonded leather is commonly used in our daily life. This blog will explore everything about bonded leather, including how it is made and its pros and cons.
When looking for leather furniture, it can be confusing because there are so many different kinds of leather. Genuine leathers are available as well as mixed faux and real leathers. Clothing and furniture are two common products made from bonded leather.
So what is bonded leather? Leather leftovers and scraps are combined with a bonding agent (usually plastic) to create bonded leather. Once pressed, it can be used directly for upholstery or used to create finished leather goods.
The advantages of this material are what have made it so well-liked and widespread. I’ll explain why now.
What is Bonded Leather?
In order to create bonded leather, leather scraps are ground up. Smaller pieces and lower-grade leather can now be used in finished goods. As a result, less waste from leather is produced, which can be a good thing.
It can also be a means of recycling older, worn-out leathers into newer materials. Reconstituted leather is another name for this kind of leather. Blended leather is another phrase that’s used.
Bonded leather is made of leftover pieces of leather that have been finely ground and bonded together using polyurethane or latex onto a fiber/paper mesh or sheet, making it somewhat similar to scrapple or hot dogs of the leather world.
The functional and aesthetic qualities of the finished product are affected by the actual leather content, which can range from 10% to 90%.
To make the surface look like natural leather, a grain pattern is frequently stamped onto it. There are numerous options for the color of the finished product thanks to the surface’s application of a variety of various, occasionally vibrant, colors. As a result, it is a material that can be found in a variety of designs, hues, and textures.
How is Bonded Leather Made?
Although its composition can vary significantly, its production is in theory similar to that of paper. Bonding agents are mixed with the leather fiber and scrap, and the mixture is then extruded onto a backing fabric with either a fibrous backing or a paper backing.
Even though the color and pattern were only added to the material’s surface as a surface treatment, it can still be treated like leather by dyeing and embossing. Polyurethane treatment produces glossiness.
High-intensity machines and lower-grade hides are used to grind up the shredded leather scraps and fibers. These can be trimmings left over from the creation of natural leather goods, waste products from the creation of bonded leather goods, or just discarded scraps in general.
When shredded leather is mixed with a polyurethane plastic mixture, the fibers are held together as they are connected by the plastic mixture when it settles and solidifies, giving leather fabrics this “pulp” name from the similar paper processing process.
In contrast to other mixes, which may be more supple, dense, firm, or strong, some may be dense, strong, firm, soft, or hard. Some of these mixtures are kept as trade secrets. Each of these mixtures improves the final leather product’s overall qualities.
The mixture is then extruded onto a flat backing after it has been bonded. The mixture may be evenly pushed out onto the backing during extrusion using machines or by gravity. Usually, paper or fiber serves as the backing. The backing supports the bonded material and aids in its adhesion as it assumes its final shape.
Fine fiber, plastic, or metal can also be used to make the mesh if necessary. The pulp can be held in more gripping areas thanks to this, and it dries more quickly once it has been extruded onto the backing. Bonded leather may have a paper backing for bookbinding and a fabric backing for upholstery.
After the pulp has dried and the leather is on the backing, colors can be applied. Typically, this is a surface-level treatment that doesn’t go all the way down to the material.
Synthetic leather is not color-transparent, while natural leather is. Plastic surfaces can be treated by coating them with any color of dye.
It is possible to add a surface texture to colored bonded leather after coloring to mimic genuine leather’s natural grain. This can also be used to make a visually appealing design.
Natural leather can occasionally be stamped to hide flaws, but bonded leather is stamped to smooth out the surface. The bonded leather finish is typically fairly even thanks to the bonding and extrusion process.
Different textures may be incorporated into the finished product depending on the kind of goods it will be used for. Bonded leather presents an opportunity to introduce fashionable and useful textures because it is primarily made of synthetic materials.
Bonded leather is typically finished with synthetic surface protectants after being stamped or embossed. The leather acquires a shiny appearance thanks to this process.
These finishes are typically polymers that protect the material beneath by resisting water and scratches and abrasions. Bonded leather can be made to smell like natural leather by adding scents to the finish.
Pros & Cons of Bonded Leather
It is best to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of bonded leather before making your decision so that you will be prepared for the experience when your furniture or clothing is delivered.
- Because it only contains 20% real leather, bonded leather is less expensive than genuine leather.
- Unlike genuine leather, which has visible flaws throughout, it has a uniform, smooth texture.
- Bonded leather is available in a wide range of hues and designs.
- As opposed to synthetic leather, bonded leather sometimes smells more like real leather.
- Bonded leather has a shorter lifespan than the genuine leather and is less durable.
- As opposed to genuine leather, bonded leather degrades over time and is easily scratched, peeled, and flaked.
- In direct sunlight, the color may deteriorate.
- The product is not vegan. Look for 100% PU Leather if you’re seeking a vegan leather substitute.
- Bonded leather may eventually release some of the adhesives that were used to bind the fibers together.
- It may be difficult to clean bonded leather. Abrasive cleaners may eventually strip the leather away.
The Uses of Bonded Leather
Upholstered leather furniture is often made from bonded leather as opposed to natural leather since the cost is much less than natural leather. As a result, furniture shops provide bonded leather at a reasonable cost as a substitute for real leather.
Technically, it is correct, but given the variations in the amount of leather present, it can be deceptive given that this type of leather performs much worse than natural leather. It’s frequently a quick and simple method of piquing consumer interest in leather without outright admitting that it is leather.
Various types of bonded leather are also used on books as covers due to their durability and the fact that they can be shaped into any shape. They are ideal for a variety of applications because they can be produced in any color.
The linings, for example, or externally facing surfaces of clothes, jackets, pants, skirts, and hats, could be made of this type of leather. Shoes and boot pieces might also have this type of leather.
This type of leather is commonly used in laptops, cameras, media storage cases, media storage bags, and diploma covers. It can also be found in backpacks, laptop cases, and makeup bags for travel use.
Bonded leather is used for making belts, straps, wallets, key chains, eyeglass cases, sunglasses, jewelry boxes, key rings, credit card cases, and more.
How to Tell If It’s Bonded Leather?
Many people mistake bonded leather for real leather, and producers occasionally label bonded leather as such. It will be useful when looking for furniture to know the difference between bonded leather and genuine leather.
Cost is the primary distinction between bonded leather and genuine leather. Because bonded leather is not created from actual leather, it will be significantly less expensive. Real leather will always cost more than imitation leather.
Bonded leather tends to be thinner than the genuine leather and can feel artificial.
However, there will be a difference in how they appear. Bonded leather can occasionally feel and smell like real leather. When compared to genuine leather, bonded leather will have a more uniform texture.
Why is Bonded Leather Bad?
Compared with leather, bonded leather has a very short lifespan. It is prone to cracking and peeling and once it has deteriorated beyond a certain point it is impossible to repair.
Although bonded leather may initially be less expensive than real leather, over time, the cost of replacing bonded leather items may end up being higher. There is also the claim that doing so lessens its environmental friendliness.
Bonded Leather Versus Genuine Leather
Genuine leather can come from any layer of the hide and undergoes treatment to the surface to provide a more uniform, “corrected”, appearance. A final surface appearance can be achieved by dyeing (or spray painting), stamping, or embossing after surface imperfections have been removed with sanding or buffing.
Although not of the highest quality, the process changes some of the leather’s desirable characteristics, so it is frequently used for belts and other similar products. Genuine leather outperforms bonded leather and lasts longer because it is still a solid layer of the natural hide.
Bottom Line: Bonded Leather
Scrap leather is shredded and then reassembled to create bonded leather. The paper backing holds the leather fibers in place. There are various bonding agents used by various manufacturers.
Bonded leather might not be the best choice if you’re looking for a genuine leather substitute, particularly if you want your furniture or clothing to last for a very long time. If you’re looking for high-quality artificial leather, PU leather will be a fantastic substitute for genuine leather.
Is Bonded Leather as Good as Real Leather?
Bonded leather is not a replacement for genuine leather. It only lasts a few years and is primarily made of ground leather fibers that are joined by a polyurethane (plastic) mixture. Genuine leather will last much longer, look better, and function better.
Is Bonded Leather Durable?
Bonded leather isn’t very resilient. It has some flexibility and is made of a mixture of leather and plastic. It will start to peel, flake, and crack with time. Although the surface is still new, it eventually wears out after about two to three years.
What Causes Bonded Leather to Peel and Crack?
Bonded leather is rigid, so it easily cracks with use. When this happens, leather and polyurethane strips begin to separate from the backing.