Which is better PU leather or faux leather?
Leather is a popular fabric choice because it exudes luxury without being pretentious. We often see leather in upholstery furniture because it's comfortable and highly durable.
While some other fabric choices wear and fade quickly, leather can last for up to five years longer, making it an excellent choice for home furnishings.
Of course, the main drawback of leather is its cost. Genuine leather requires a significant investment and is also unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Luckily, two alternatives cover all bases regarding cost, durability and suitability.
In this guide, you'll find out about PU and faux leather so that you can choose the right one for your needs.
What is faux leather?
Faux comes from the French dictionary, and it simply means fake. Like faux fur, faux leathers use manufactured materials representing the refined look and feel of genuine leather from an animal hide.
In its simplest form, faux leather is the main category representing all synthetic leather types.
Let's look at the different subtypes now to see the main differences between each.
What is PU leather?
PU leather is made from polyurethane, a plastic with a similar feel and aspect to leather, without harming any animals. As an artificial leather, most PU products are free from animal materials, which makes them suitable for people who avoid animal-derived products.
The advantages of PU leather:
PU is a cost-effective material as the manufacturing process is much easier.
PU leathers are animal cruelty-free (if you look for a 100% material).
It's water-resistant and easy to clean.
Artificial leather is versatile and can come in a range of colours.
The disadvantages of PU leather:
This leather isn't as durable as natural leather, so PU leather easily wears over time.
When first manufactured, PU leather can have a distinct smell.
Some people believe faux leathers are worse for the environment, but they require fewer resources.
PVC leather is another subtype of faux leather, which uses polyester fibres, and mixes them with polyvinyl chloride. PVC contains zero animal-derived ingredients, unlike real leather, but it still obtains a similar aesthetic to pure leather.
The advantages of PVC leather:
PVC leather uses more layers than PU, which has a simple polyurethane coating on top. These layers make it more durable and withstand more wear and tear.
In most cases, PVC will have a longer lifespan and is suitable as an alternative fabric for up-market upholstery pieces.
The disadvantages of PVC leather:
PVC leather requires an extensive manufacturing process, so while it's cruelty-free, it's not very eco-friendly.
As PVC is fake leather, it lacks breathability, making it okay for upholstery but not ideal for clothing.
More materials are needed than polyurethane leather, so PVC isn't hypoallergenic.
Bicast leather is a unique mixture of animal-derived and synthetic materials that some manufacturers use to make furniture, garments and accessories.
Unlike traditional synthetic materials, bicast leather is created from split leather, which undergoes a process that reduces the thickness of the protective coating.
One unique feature of bicast leather is its ability to remain in good condition even when exposed to moisture. However, it's important to remember that bicast isn't vegan leather, so some people won't buy it.
What makes faux leather better than genuine leather?
It's pretty easy to distinguish between genuine and faux leather when you look up close because natural leather has a distinct aesthetic.
Unlike genuine leather, faux leather can look relatively smooth and take on a range of aesthetics. Faux leather items can look realistic but also have colourful patterns and a naturally shiny sheen, so they're more versatile for a range of stylish products.
Natural types are also known as full-grain leather because they have a texture that comes from an animal hide, which means they're more rustic.
However, faux leather is still a premium quality fabric which can be manufactured to provide a textured character for traditional designs or a laminated surface.
Buy faux leather and polyurethane fabrics
Just because faux leather is an artificial material doesn't mean it can't look fantastic. In fact, at the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, we take the concept of artificial materials and show our clients that faux can look luxurious.
Please feel free to shop from our range of totally vegan fabrics, which include:
Animal Pattern Faux Leathers: Fun, funky and full of personality.
Tartan Faux Leathers: Keep it traditional yet stylish with a proper salute to Scotland.
Herringbone Faux Leathers: A classic pattern that stood the test of time.
Hudson range of bonded leather: Looks like real leather with embossed texture.
Yorkshire Fabric Shop offers numerous types of leather that you'd never know were artificial. Browse all our faux leather fabrics here, order samples, and create something unique today.
Please feel free to contact our friendly team if you'd like to learn about our synthetic leather range. We're always happy to help.