Leather is a common trend in clothing upholstery. They give you a glamorous look and outstanding style. Furniture made with leather gives your house a luxurious feeling and a beautiful home decor. Leather products do not have to be expensive. If you cannot afford to buy products made with real leather, you get faux leather products, which are a little less expensive. The question now is what is faux leather?
Faux leather products are increasing in popularity. It is also known as synthetic or artificial leather. This type of leather is used to make upholstery, cloths, and leather sofas. Its popularity has mainly risen due to its low prices. Genuine leather is costly, and thus people opt to go for faux leather, which is much cheaper. Let us now learn more about faux leather, its types its advantages and disadvantages.
What is Faux Leather?
Faux leather is also known as synthetic leather. It is a petroleum-based substitute for real leather. These leather types have several common attributes with genuine leather. Just like the latter, faux leather is water-resistant and not soft to touch. The fabric of this leather type is easy to clean and resistant to stains. Faux leather is less durable compared to real leather, but it is resistant to both cuts and abrasions. Faux leather upholstery is the best in places with pets and children.
Faux has different names based on its end-use. It is, for instance, the leather used to make upholstery and apparel are known as leatherette. The type of leather used to produce consumer goods is known as Koskin. Therefore, we can confidently say that synthetic leather is used to make a variety of products ranging from furniture to headboard upholstery.
Types of Faux Leather
There are two types of faux leather. There is Vinyl upholstery and polyurethane upholstery (PU).
This type of faux leather is made from different synthetic materials. The upholstery fibers are made with sturdy polyester fibers. These fibers are coated with vinyl made from plasticizers and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The vinyl is melted on the surface of the fiber and seals them completely. This is what gives the desired, texture, toughness as well as roughness. They also make them virtually waterproof. This leather is robust but still flexible.
Vinyl leather is easy to maintain and clean. It is, therefore, an ideal material where cleanness is a core, like in restaurants and hospitals. The material does not need any conditioning or special care. It, however, becomes very hot when left out in sunlight. Vinyl upholstery may crack after extended use. It is not ad breathable as PU leather and thus ideal for cases of electronic devices and book bindings.
Polyurethane Leather (PU)
PU leather is made using a coating of baking fabric like shredded leather, polyester, or cotton with a flexible polymer and treating them to make something similar to animal hide. This is the most realistic imitation of real or genuine leather. The surface and hand feel, as well as the general appearance, is similar to genuine leather.
When you tuft, gather or stich, it wrinkles or breaks like genuine leather. So, does faux leather peel? This type of leather does not peel or crack since they do not have plasticizers in them. PU leather remains soft. It is the ideal fabric for decorating designs. PU leather is said to be greener compared to vinyl since it doesn’t produce dioxins.
It is more expensive than vinyl but cheaper than genuine leather. PU leather is more breathable, flexible, and softer than vinyl. It is commonly used to make products that will have contacts with human skin, such as wear products or upholstery.
Faux Leather Material
Faux leather is made from a fabric base that is treated chemically with polyurethane, dye, and wax for texture and color. This type of leather is entirely man-made. It resembles genuine leather, but it is less expensive. Therefore faux leather has an artificial effect. It has some form of grain and pores, which gives it a texture similar to that of real leather.
Most of the faux leathers in the market are constructed with base textiles that are later covered with plastic material. Some of the most used base materials are polyester or cotton. The base materials should be rough and porous. This means that the base materials need to be manufactured specifically for this task.
The two most used plastic materials used to cover the base fabrics are Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polyurethane (PU). This is what brings the difference between the two types of faux leather. Their processing the plastics is different. However, the process of binding the plastics to the base textile is highly similar.
Pros and Cons of Faux Leather
Everything has both a good side and a bad side. Faux leather has grown in popularity because of its advantages. However, it also comes with disadvantages. Let us check them out:
Pros of Faux Leather
- Cost- The first reason as to why people prefer faux leather products is because of the price. Faux leather is less expensive compared to genuine leather.
- Low Maintenance- Faux leather is easier to maintain than other types of leather. The leather material can be wiped easily with warm water and a rag. They do not stain. It also doesn’t retain moisture, thus hard to crack or warp.
- Quality is Realistic- This leather type has been improved and modified with various textures, colors, and grains to have a similar appearance with genuine leather.
- Durability- Faux leather products last for a long time. It withstands scraps, scratches better than real leather. It is also prone to peel and cracks. Faux leather is stain resistant and does not fade easily, even when exposed to UV light.
- Consistency in Appearance- Faux leather will have a consistent and uniform appearance since they all come from the same stock.
- Easy to Use- Unlike real leather, faux leather is easier to sew and cut. The needle marks are also less noticeable. The threads blend with this leather type flawlessly.
- Variety of Fashion- Faux leather can be designed with different patterns and textures. Since it is a synthetic material, it can also be dyed with different colors to give the desired look. It, therefore, offers designers freedom when decorating commercial and residential interiors.
Cons of Faux Leather
- Does not Age Gracefully- Faux leather, unlike real leather, does not develop patina and luster with time. Real leather develops a luxe, soft expensive look as it grows old. Faux leather, on the other hand, looks better when it is new.
- Non-breathability- Some faux leather is less breathable. PVC leather, for instance, is not breathable, but PU leather is breathable.
- Not environmentally Friendly- Faux leather is not as environmentally friendly as real leather. This is because real leather is natural and a byproduct of cows. Faux, on the other hand, is processed and not recycled.
- High Puncture Factor- Unlike real leather, faux leather does not have a structural or natural elasticity. This means that it can be torn or punctured more easily.
How to Clean Faux Leather
Just like we said above, cleaning faux leather is quite easy. The leather should be cleaned as soon as it gets stained. When you are away from home, and something happens to spill on your faux leather shoe, jacket or handbag, use a baby wipe for instant cleaning. Since baby wipes are made for sensitive baby skins, they are ideal to use on leather. Below is a guide on how to clean faux leather:
Step 1: Bolt
If the leather has anything on it like food, liquid, or other spills, start by bolting the area with a paper towel. It is advisable to bolt the surface as soon as the spill occurs. This will make it easier to clean, and the cleaning time will be less.
Step 2: Prepare Soapy Water
Faux leather is best washed with soapy water. Put some detergent in a half container of warm water. Mix them well until it forms bubbles. Be careful not to use harsh detergents since it may damage the leather.
Step 3: Wipe the Stains
Dip a clean cloth in the mixture of water and soap and squeeze excess water. Never wipe faux leather with dripping water. Wipe the stains gently with the cloth until the leather is clean. Afterward, wipe the area with a dry, soft, and clean cloth. This helps in dampening the faux leather with just enough moisture.
If you are wiping a large surface, wipe each stain portion separately and not the whole surface at once. This is to prevent the leather from getting wet for a long time. Faux leather may get damages when water stays for a long time. You should also not let the leather get soaked and saturated with water.
Step 4: Polish
The last step is polishing the leather, which is optional. The polishing is necessary if the faux leather product needs rebuffing. Spread a little faux leather polish on the clean surface with a soft and dry rag. The polish will help in safeguarding the faux leather.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Is Faux Leather Good Quality?
Faux leather is a good quality because it lasts for a long time. It is durable, and it can withstand scrapes and scratches, unlike real leather. We can also say that faux leather fabric is good quality since it does not peel or crack like other types of leather. It also does not fade easily, even when exposed to direct sunlight. For these reasons, they are ideal to be used in places with pets and children due to their withstanding nature and are durable.
Q. Is Faux Leather Better Than Real Leather?
Whether faux leather is better than real leather depends on what you want. If you want a product that ages gracefully and gives you the exact feeling of leather, then nothing can be better than real leather. Faux leather, however, gives you almost a similar feel and has almost the same look as real leather.
As much as it is affordable, it tends to be less durable compared to real leather. It also fades and cracks with use while genuine leather, on the other hand, develops a patina. If you can afford real leather, then it is better to go for it. However, if you cannot afford, faux leather is a great option.
Q. Is Faux Leather Waterproof?
Most faux leathers are waterproof. Mainly faux leather made with vinyl is waterproof. However, you are advised not to leave it to soak or soil in water since the padding inside is not waterproof. Therefore, it is a bad idea to leaf faux leather outside on a rainy day, for it will eventually damage the leather. Even when cleaning faux leather, just use a damp clean cloth.
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Q. How Many Years Does Faux Leather Last?
Most faux leather is attractive since they are easy to clean and to maintain. Faux leather is very durable, and its products can last for a long time. This leather is known to last for around 10 to 20 years. When you maintain, then well, they can serve you for more than twenty years.
Q. Is Faux Leather Easy to Clean?
Cleaning and maintaining faux leather is quite easy. All you need is to wipe it with a damp cloth. The leather is stain resistant, which makes it easy to keep clean. This is because it does not have pores to soak the stains. It is the ideal leather type to use in places where cleanness is a priority, like hospitals and restaurants. The best way to keep them clean is to wipe out stain immediately after pours. When on the move, you can use a baby wipe to wipe a spill on your faux leather product.
Q. How Can You Tell Leather From Faux Leather?
There are several ways of checking if a product is made of real leather or faux leather. The simplest way is to check the label. The label will show the product is made of faux or real leather. The other way is taking a whiff. Real leather has a different smell from synthetic leather. You can only learn this by practicing with both types of leather.
The texture of real and faux leather material is different, and it can show you the difference. Genuine leather can be smooth or coarse, depending on the quality. If it is too smooth and somehow feels like plastic, then that is synthetic leather. The texture of real leather is not consistent since it is natural.
The edges will also tell you the difference. Faux leather has a smooth and perfect edge, while real leather has rough and rougher edges. Finally, you can tell the difference between the pores. Pores on real leather are inconsistent because they are natural. Faux leather, on the other hand, has more consistent pores with a repeating pattern.
By now we should have answered the question on what is faux leather. Faux leather is an ideal option for people who want leather products but are on a budget. It may not be as good as real leather, but it will give you almost the same feeling. Faux leather does not only look real, but it is also easy to maintain. It is also spill-proof and thus easy to clean. It is durable but not as much as real leather. As much as it is similar to real leather, it does not get the patina that genuine leather gets as it gets old. However, it fades off with time. Faux leather is a great and economical choice for anyone who cannot afford real leather.