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It can be hard to tell the difference between genuine leather and bonded leather when choosing a piece of furniture. Bonded leather is made of small pieces of discarded leather bonded to a polyurethane backing, while genuine leather is made of an actual hide.
But what does that really mean in terms of quality furniture? Below are a few easy ways to tell the difference between genuine leather vs bonded leather, and why it is important.
Closely inspect the markings: you should see grain characteristics, natural hide markings, blemishes, scarring, and fat wrinkles (caused by fat deposits in the animal). These characteristics are what make leather so unique and desirable. The Tower Place Conrad Conversation Sofa by Lexington above demonstrates the appealing texture of genuine leather upholstery. A piece that can best be described as luxe transitional, the genuine leather upholstery creates an understated and approachable look.
Leather is pleasing to all the senses, and touch is just one way to determine if you are looking at genuine leather or bonded leather. You should be able to feel soft suppleness and uneven texture on genuine leather. Bonded leather doesn’t “breathe” like genuine leather does, so it generally feels cool and smooth when you run your fingers across it.
When you sit down on genuine leather, such as the Natuzzi Editions Stationary Leather Sofa, it is more pliable and warmer than bonded leather. A genuine leather sofa will acclimate to your body’s temperature whether it is hot or cold out; bonded leather will not. In fact, bonded leather will feel colder in the winter and hotter in the summer – just the opposite of genuine leather.
In addition, genuine leather ages gracefully and lasts a long time. Bonded leather wears quickly, it may flake, and won’t develop the rich patina that is a hallmark of genuine leather.
Genuine leather has a distinct, and to leather lovers, pleasing aroma that cannot be duplicated in a bonded leather piece. Give a piece of bonded leather the sniff test, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s really nothing like the rich, appealing aroma of genuine leather. In addition, bonded leather may have a more chemical smell due to its synthetic fibers.
The label and price tag can give some information about the type of leather upholstery on a piece of furniture. Tags that say genuine leather, pure or semi-aniline, or pigmented leather indicate that you are looking at an authentic leather piece.
While a tag that states “faux leather” is pretty clear, there are some other terms that are not so easy to decipher, such as pleather, Naugahyde, bonded leather, or leatherette. And don’t forget to look at the price: the price of genuine leather is usually significantly higher than that of bonded leather and other faux leathers.
If you want a good quality product that will look and feel great for a long time, real genuine leather is the only way to go. When looking for quality leather furniture, look no further than Baer’s Furniture. Baer’s carries brands such as Lexington Furniture, Natuzzi Editions, Bernhardt and more — all 100% genuine leather of the highest quality. Baer’s in-house designers are leather experts and happy to help you choose the perfect piece for your home.