Grande Prairie Furniture Expert – Mike Turner

What is Faux Leather?

Faux leather is one of several names given to artificial or synthetic leather. These names are often used to describe end uses of synthetic leather products such as faux leather (sofa, loveseat, chair and headboard upholstery), leatherette (auto upholstery, clothing). There are two primary types of faux leather construction: Polyurethane (‘PU”), and polyvinyl chloride (PCV – “Vinyl”).

Vinyl synthetic leather has been produced since the 1940’s, initially for products such as shoes, automobile interiors and upholstery. In the late 1950’s Dupont and other chemical companies began developing polyurethane products. Both polyurethane and vinyl synthetic leathers are used in making clothing, upholstery and other products, but each is better for certain applications than others. PU fabric is softer, more flexable, and breathable, so it more commonly used for making high wear products, like clothing and upholstery (Surface that come into contact with skin). Vinyl is not as breathable as PU, but this often ideal for products that need to repel moisture such as book bindings or cases for electronic devices.

Vinyl Upholstery

Vinyl upholstery is made from two separate synthetic materials. The fibers of upholstery are constructed from strong polyester fibers. The fibers are then coated with vinyl, made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plastizers (Phthalic Acid). This vinyl is melted onto the surface of the fibers, sealing them closed and making a virtually waterproof surface that is flexable and tough.

Polyurethane Upholstery

PU is made by coating a backing fabric such as cotton, polyester or shredded leather with a flexible polymer and then treated to look more like animal hide. Polyurethane upholstery is the most realistic imitation of genuine leather, with respect to hand, surface feel, and overall appearance. Polyurethane costs less than real leather but is more expensive to produce than vinyl.

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