Faux leather, PU leather, artificial or synthetic leather is the same thing with different names. Huge market demand has led to its diverse use very often replacing genuine leather. Low price and availability has contributed to its remarkable popularity and utility.
Obviously, there are underlying pros and cons involved with artificial leather. However, we must deal with the definition of faux leather at the very outset.
What is faux leather?
Unlike real leather that originates from animal hides, faux leather is an artificial object produced en masse in factories.
Apart from the other names mentioned above, it is also called leatherette, koskin, pleather, vegan leather and so on. These names derive from their manufacturing materials or their usages.
Of course, it is a man made object that comes from polyurethane and is called PU leather in turn. They laminate 100% polyurethane on a base component which can be either of cotton, rayon, polyester or nylon.
So the prudent combination of the base material and polyurethane brings forth PU leather.
On the other hand, there is PVC leather that resembles PU leather in terms of production method except for a little alteration in materials. But here, they use polyvinyl chloride with stabilizers instead of polyurethane.
It also involves a combination of plasticizers and lubricants which is then applied to a base material. Stabilizers give protection, plasticizers soften it and lubricants lend flexibility to the leather.
What are the types of faux leather?
There lies a kind of gradation regarding quality and qualities among faux leather types. Clearly, the two primary categories are-
1. PVC. It is difficult to clean and not breathable at all.
2. Poly or PU. These types of synthetic leather are a bit more eco-friendly, breathable, and clean. Consequently, Poly types are generally preferred than that of their PVC counterparts.
How is synthetic leather forged?
Artificial leather came into being back in the 19th century in Germany. Since then, it has conquered the leather world with its versatility. The current form of faux leather is actually a culmination of a lot of experiments on the way during the last two centuries.
The production story of faux leather begins with a fabric base such as cotton, rayon, shredded leather, nylon or mostly, polyester. Manufacturers apply an imitation of leather finish as well as a texture using wax, dye, polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) on the fabric base.
How to identify faux leather?
Real leather and faux leather very often confuse rookie eyes and we are going to get you to the expert level with five simple hands-on tricks.
Let’s sum it up once and for all. You are never going to be tricked into believing faux leather as real. One of these five characteristics will determine its authenticity.
If the label says things like, artificial, synthetic or polyester on the label, it is not animal leather. Authentic leather may denote their label with top grain, full grain or genuine leather.
Graze your fingers across the surface of it. You will feel extreme smoothness if it is artificial leather which almost resembles plastic tops in terms of sensation.
Contrarily, genuine leather contains rough exterior and you never miss its nuanced coarse surface with essential softness and flexibility.
In a leather store, you certainly smell a distinct skin scent with an oaky accent.
Unless you are habituated to it, you most probably consider it repulsive to some extent. This leathery smell cannot be replicated to the fake leather.
Check out the edges:
Smooth edges denote fake leather whereas a real piece gets you natural and rugged edges.
Look, pores all over it:
Authentic leather such as the premium full grain items brings in all kinds of pores, imperfections and blemishes. Faux leather lacks all these natural markings.
Why buy faux leather?
No leather expert can write off the significance of fake leather because of its inevitable utility. We are going to light up some of the outstanding reasons for buying faux leather.
Cost effective: Real leather costs good many bucks and this is the single most important reason to go for fake leather.
So it is easily replaceable in case of damages. Many short term plans involve artificial leather rather than its pricey counterpart.
Long lasting: If you pit price against durability, synthetic leather has an incomparable edge. Scratches, scrapes and cracks do not bother them too much. Stains and UV rays cannot fade them pretty easily.
Easy cleaning: You are free to use harsh chemicals on it. So the cleaning process does not take a lot of patience or effort.
Color variation: Faux leather comes in all types of colors, patterns and designs suiting a wider array of individual taste.
Animal friendly: Demand for hides lead to the slaughter of innumerable animals across the world. Animal lovers may find it offensive to their morals. So they choose artificial leather instead.
Low maintenance: Simple wipes with rugs is enough care for synthetic leather. Warping and cracking is mostly out of question as it does not hold on to water or moisture.
Why not buy faux leather?
Faux leather products show some weaknesses as well. We are going to dig them here.
Not environment friendly:
When it is time to ditch artificial leather items, you are probably going to cause some unavoidable harm to the environment. Toxic chemicals such as PVC and polyurethane are detrimental to the soil, air and water.
For the same reason as stated above in case of the environment, your health is subject to damages due to PVC and polyurethane components. Children, who are undergoing brain development phases, are especially prone to the ill effect of the chemicals such as flame retardant. We very often than not inhale these elements from air as our sofas, upholstery, rugs, and even electronics emit them.
The true concern lies in its lifespan as it does not age very well. Peeling is a great challenge and then it loses elasticity with the advancement of age. Pets, children are hyperactive and they could exert bad influence upon the longevity of fake leather.
No breathability: It does not stretch and so breathability is not an option at all. Moreover, it develops a lackluster look over time
What are the utilities of faux leather?
Fake leather has spread out all over the place. We are going to mention some of the remarkable sectors here.
Chair, sofa, cushion, headboards, tabletop, etc.
Clothes & accessories:
Jackets, gloves, leggings, shirts, sheath dresses, belts, bags, wallets, purses and so on.
Shoes, boots, sneakers, etc.
Auto carpet, auto vinyl, auto cloth, auto leather, auto headliners and all kinds fabrics come from fake leather.
Aviation leather, aviation vinyl, aviation fabric, aviation carpet, aviation vinyl flooring and so on.
Marine canvas, marine carpet, marine vinyl, etc.
How long does faux leather last?
With good care and at good prices, it lasts even 5-10 years. Over time, it creases and cracks may appear all over its body which are beyond repair. We should not kid ourselves by comparing its longevity against real leather.
However, you can rest assured that you cannot categorise artificial leather as rubbish. It will give you sound service for a relatively long period of time.
Faux leather products come at unimaginably lower prices which is very difficult to resist. Well from now on, do not jump on to the first one you see at the store. If you are willing to pay for a real leather product, stay away from this segment.
We have given you several names here so that the identification process becomes easier for you. The manufacturing process and environmental impact stories tell us that they are not eco-friendly either. Less durability and artificiality has contributed to its slashed down costs.
However, you may have to specifically buy a faux leather item in case you are trying to cut down right through the budget. Then you are really not worried about its worth or appearance or class.
Putting all these inevitable issues aside, we may easily go ahead with faux leather goods. They last long enough to do justice to the money you spend for them.
However, do not consider it rubbish at all and take careful notice of the faux leather buying guide as our leather experts have outlined in this write up.
Keep it away from kids and pets and polish as well as clean it. Take good care of it and after a few years, you may even become completely surprised at their longevity and endurance.