What is PU leather? PU leather refers to polyurethane leather, or leather made entirely from polyurethane. Polyurethane is a type of plastic used for a variety of industrial and commercial purposes. Chemists have long expanded the scope of polyurethane use, and it has been adapted to produce PU leather, which is different from split leather or faux leather.
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Is PU leather made from animal skin?
Authentic PU leather is not made from any amount of animal skin. This is the first point of distinction because many people confuse PU leather with faux leather or bonded leather. Bonded leather is comprised of scraps of genuine leather bound together with fillers and then embossed to produce the appearance of genuine leather.
Bonded leather has a polyurethane finish that makes it glossy and attractive. PU leather doesn’t have any genuine leather scraps at all. It is 100% made of polyurethane, fillers, and adhesives. PU leather is 100% inorganic, while faux leather can be 10% or 20% organic because of its leather content (mainly, in the form of fibres that are then consolidated and adhered to a backing).
If you are vegan and do not like anything made with animal skin or genuine leather, we recommend checking the tag of what you are buying. Make sure that you are buying PU leather and not split leather or faux leather. When the card says polyurethane cover that means you are holding something made with leftover genuine leather scraps.
The manufacturing process of PU leather is complex. The process begins with combing petroleum products and other chemicals to form the base of what would eventually become the leather.
PU leather is mounted on a durable base fabric that serves as the backing or foundation of the PU leather. The polyurethane covering is also applied in several layers until the desired thickness is achieved. For variety, an upper layer of colour is also used to the PU leather.
When the colour of the PU leather has been achieved, the last step is to add texture to the PU leather.
PU leather, admittedly, is more sustainable than producing genuine leather because it requires not the skin of animals, but lots and lots of chemicals. It takes only a small quantity of base material to create PU leather, so for now, it is a good alternative for people who want only vegan products in their homes.
As you may already know, the vegan mindset extends not just to food, but also to household items and other stuff that vegans use and consume, however way they please. PU leather is more eco-friendly because it doesn’t necessitate the harvesting of skin from large animals, which require lots of land and resources to raise and feed.
Quality and Durability of PU leather
Since PU leather is made from the same plastic material used for industrial applications, the polyurethane base of PU leather is durable and worthy of daily use.
It may not be genuine leather, and it may not have the luxury tag of genuine leather, but for daily use, PU leather is excellent. The overall durability of polyurethane-based leather products is consistently higher compared to split leather or faux leather.
PU leather is also designed to withstand constant use, and it is also meant for a long time, compared to faux leather, which begins to split and rub off under continuous use. On the upside, faux leather is cheap, and if you need to buy a piece of furniture on a tight budget, faux leather will help you achieve what you are aiming for.
How to tell if it is PU leather?
The first thing that you should is to check the tag of the product that you are purchasing. The card should have some indications of what type of leather you are buying. If the label says “100% genuine leather,” then that’s not PU leather – you are holding genuine leather made from animal skin.
If you can’t find any indication on the tag, you may be holding faux leather, because that is how manufacturers let people know that they are selling bonded leather. They don’t mention the type of leather. As for PU leather, many manufacturers indicate “PU leather” on the tag to inform people that their products are cruelty-free.
The next indicator is the price. PU leather is even less expensive than split leather or faux leather because it’s made of plastic. If the tag doesn’t say anything, it would be best to ask the seller about the origin of the material and what it is made of.
The third indicator is the visual aspects of the leather. Genuine leather will have a lot of irregularities, and all these irregularities are typical, because natural leather is made from skin, and skin, in general, is not consistent. From afar, it may be challenging to check the genuineness of leather. You need to inspect, touch visually, and if possible, smell the leather to see if it’s PU leather or genuine.
If you are inspecting by smell, one smell will help you differentiate. Genuine leather will have a pleasant, organic scent to it. PU leather may smell faintly of chemicals and adhesives, or if it is high quality, it will not smell of anything at all. The off-gassing of high-quality PU leather will dissipate quickly when you buy anything with PU leather, don’t worry.
One test, while a little extreme, can settle any debate on whether a piece of leather is genuine or made from polyurethane – the water test. When you apply a small quantity of water to genuine leather, it is going to absorb the leather, no doubt, because it is organic, and skin naturally absorbs the moisture of all kinds.
PU leather will not absorb water no matter what you do to it, because it is made of plastic. PU leather is naturally water-resistant, which makes it a perfect choice if you are looking for furniture that will withstand pets and toddlers.