What is Bonded Leather?

Leather is a popular material that has been used for centuries in a variety of products, from clothing to things like leather office chairs. That being said, not all leather is created equal. One type of leather that has gained popularity is bonded leather.

In this guide, we’ll explore what bonded leather is, how it differs from genuine leather, and its pros and cons. We’ll also discuss the meaning of bonded leather, how to identify bonded leather, and provide some tips on how to care for it.

In This Guide

What is Bonded Leather?

Bonded leather is made from leftover scraps of leather that are mixed with other materials such as polyurethane or latex. These scraps are ground into small particles and then bonded together with the other materials to create a sheet of material that looks and feels like leather.

Bonded leather is then treated with a coating to give it a smooth finish. The goal of bonded leather is to make it feel and look as close as possible to real leather for a fraction of the price.

What’s the Difference Between Bonded Leather and Genuine Leather?

Let’s have a look at bonded leather vs leather. The main difference between the two types of leather is the way they’re made. Bonded leather is made from scraps of leather that are bonded together to create leather, while genuine leather is made from the entire hide of an animal.

Another difference is the price. Genuine leather is more expensive because it requires more processing and preparation.

Finally, the quality and feel of the material. Genuine leather has a natural and unique texture and appearance that cannot be replicated with bonded leather.

Genuine leather is also more durable, breathable, and lasts a lot longer, making it more comfortable to wear or sit on.

“Leather facts” have some great information regarding how it’s made, and some key differences between them both.

Pros and Cons

As with any material, bonded leather has its advantages and disadvantages and is good for some people but not for others. Below you’ll find some of the most important pros and cons to consider.


  • Cost-effective: Bonded leather is often a lot less expensive than genuine leather, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.
  • Uniform appearance: Bonded leather has a smooth and uniform appearance that can be appealing to some people.
  • Easy to clean: The polyurethane coating on bonded leather makes it easy to wipe and clean with a damp cloth without damaging the material.
  • Versatility: Bonded leather can be made in a variety of colors and textures, while in the process of making it. That can be an appealing choice for people with a variety of decors.
  • Availability: Since bonded leather is made from scraps of leather, it’s a more sustainable option compared to genuine leather as it requires a whole animal hide. As a result, bonded leather can be readily available.


  • Less durable: Bonded leather is not as durable as genuine leather and may show signs of deterioration much faster like cracks and peels.
  • Not breathable: Bonded leather is not as breathable as natural leather, which can make it uncomfortable to wear in hot weather or sit on for a long time.
  • Environmentally unfriendly: The process of making bonded leather involves the use of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. It’s also not biodegradable and therefore will not break down naturally over time.
  • Limited lifespan: Bonded leather has a limited lifespan compared to genuine leather, which may mean you’ll have to replace it more frequently.

How to Tell If It’s Bonded Leather

Examining the surface of a material to see if it is bonded leather is one way to tell. Because bonded leather is manufactured by bonding leather scraps with other materials, it often has a smooth and plastic-like appearance.

It may also have a design or texture that is not present in genuine leather. Genuine leather, on the other hand, has a more natural and irregular surface texture, with visible pores and variations in color and texture.

Another way to tell if a material is bonded leather is to perform a burn test. Try holding a flame to the material and observing how it reacts. Bonded leather will often produce a plastic-like smell when burned, and may curl or melt under heat.

Genuine leather will produce a more natural, musky smell and will char instead of burn. If you want a more non-destructive way of testing, try reading the label, usually hidden out of sight.

How to Care for Bonded Leather

Caring for bonded leather is important in order to prevent it from deteriorating over time. To do this, simply wipe the surface of the material with a clean, damp cloth on a regular basis. Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners that can damage the polyurethane coating on the bonded leather.

In addition to regular cleaning, try to keep bonded leather away from direct sunlight and heat sources, which can cause it to face and crack over time. If your bonded leather item becomes stained, try using a specialized leather cleaner to remove the stain and restore the materials’ appearance.

For a similar guide, check out how to care for faux (PU) leather.

Final Thoughts

By now you should know “what is bonded leather” and we hope that you’ve gained some more knowledge about it. Bonded leather can be a great choice for those that don’t have the budget for genuine leather or for those that prefer the advantages of bonded leather.

Ultimately, whether you decide to go for bonded leather, taking proper care of it can be a real game changer and prolong its lifespan significantly.


How long does bonded leather last?

The lifespan of bonded leather can vary depending on the quality of materials used and how well the item is cared for. In short, around 4 to 6 years.

Is bonded leather as good as real leather?

Bonded leather is generally considered to be of lower quality and less durable than genuine leather, although it can be a more affordable alternative.

Is bonded leather worth it?

While it can be a more affordable and sustainable option, it may not have the same durability or natural appearance as genuine leather. If taken care of it can last just as long as real leather, which is a great value.

Does bonded leather crack?

Yes, bonded leather can crack over time, especially if it is exposed to harsh conditions like heat or dryness. This is because the leather scraps used do not have the same natural properties as genuine leather.

Eric Moore

Eric Moore is the owner of Overheard on Conference Calls. As a corporate veteran, he’s seen and heard it all. And when it comes to office chairs, desks, and accessories, he’s used it all. As a former office furniture sales rep, he bring his expertise to provide readers the knowledge to choose the right products for them. He also has his OSHA Ergonomics Certificate.