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Leatherette vs. Leather: What’s the Difference?

Leatherette vs. Leather: What’s the Difference?

When choosing a material for your modern furniture, there are many things to consider. Durability, ease of cleaning, colour, and environmental concerns can all play a part in deciding what type of material to use.

Leather and leatherette are two of the most common materials to use for various types of furniture. Dining chairs, occasional chairs, bar stools, sofas, ottomans, office chairs – these will often be produced with either leather or leatherette depending on your priorities and needs. They look similar, they feel similar – so what are the differences between leather and leatherette?

What is Leatherette?

First, we can look at what makes leatherette. Leatherette is a synthetic material designed specifically to mimic leather. It’s also known as fake leather, faux leather, pleather, and synthetic leather, although in the furniture industry, leatherette is the most common name.

It’s typically made from natural or synthetic cloth fibers coated in PVC or polyurethane and contains no animal by-products, unlike real leather which is made from animal hide treated with chemicals. This stark contrast in materials means there are many differences between leather and leatherette to consider.

The Differences between Leather and Leatherette

The main difference between leather and leatherette is the price, with leather being significantly more expensive than leatherette. Leather is also more durable, but higher maintenance than leatherette. We’ve broken down some of the main differences between leather and leatherette below.

What’s the price?Leather is typically more expensive.Leatherette is the cheaper of the two, often being half the price of leather.
Is it easy to clean?Leather is not washable and can be difficult to clean. It is a porous material, meaning it can easily absorb spills and odours.Leatherette is not washable, but is less porous than leather and therefore waterproof and easy to clean. Spills can usually be cleaned with a damp cloth.
How durable is it?Leather is very durable. With proper care and maintenance, it can easily last over 15 years in good condition. It resists tears and punctures very well.Leatherette is less durable. With proper care and maintenance, it will typically last less than 10 years.
Is it biodegradable?Leather is biodegradable.Leatherette is not biodegradable.
How does it ‘breathe’?Because it is a porous material, leather breathes well and can be more comfortable in hot weather.Leatherette does not breathe well and can cause sweating in hot weather.
How does it age?Leather is very durable but can fade when exposed to sunlight and requires treatment to prevent aging. It also becomes softer with age.Leatherette does not fade with age, however, with heavy use the top layer can crack revealing the cloth underneath, making it appear more worn.

Which is Right for Me?

Choosing between leather and leatherette for your furniture largely depends on your lifestyle and furniture needs. Because leather is more breathable, if you live or work in a warm climate, it is often the better choice. If your furniture is used often, like in a lobby or meeting room, leather will age better. If you’re looking for furniture for your home and have small children, leatherette’s ease of cleaning will help make your furniture last longer. If you have concerns about animal by-products and use, leatherette is a great option.

sohoConcept manufactures furniture in both leather and leatherette for your convenience. We can help you choose the material that’s right for your business or home!