Faux Leather vs. Genuine Leather as Materials for Upholstery

10 April 2018

Leather is one of the most sought-after materials for upholstery, and is considered one of the hallmarks of top-tier furniture. However, leather is also quite pricey and high-maintenance. With the right budget and enough know-how, leather can be an excellent choice for upholstery, but it isn’t something that just about anyone can obtain with relative ease.

Thankfully, there are alternatives to leather that allow one to still benefit from the look and feel of the real thing without having to pay top-dollar for authentic leather. Enter faux leather – made from synthetic materials often derived from polyurethane, it imitates the look and feel of real leather without its added price.

When it comes down to choosing the right sort of material for your upholstery needs, there really is no right or wrong, since both authentic and faux leather have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you’re a stickler for quality, then authentic is the way to go. However, if you’re on a budget, but would rather prefer the aesthetics of leather, faux is a good go-to choice.

Here are just some of the pros and cons of both materials that you should know before you settle on either, or maybe even both!

Leather Pros:

  • Superior aesthetics – nothing beats the aesthetic feel and look of leather. Soft, pliable, with a propensity to wear well with age and use, it’s no wonder why leather is valued as a top-quality upholstery material.
  • Durable and long-lasting – with enough care and maintenance, leather can last for anywhere from 10 – 15 years – far longer than the standard faux leather options. Vintage leather will also accrue value as it ages.


  • High-maintenance – authentic leather requires plenty of maintenance in order to retain its overall quality, suppleness and appeal. This can be quite costly and time-consuming for most people.
  • Prone to damage – unlike faux leather, authentic leather is prone to all sorts of damage, and can easily be cut, scratched, or damaged by heat. Constant exposure to the sun will even dry out the leather, causing it to fade and eventually crack.

Faux leather Pros:

  • Affordability – faux leather is far more affordable than authentic leather, at almost 60% less than the price of the real thing. This makes it excellent for those that are after the look of leather but don’t have the money.
  • Low-maintenance – faux leather has some degree of water-proof quality, and it also doesn’t fade when exposed to direct sunlight. What’s more, it doesn’t require as much maintenance as authentic leather.


  • Short-lived nature – faux leather doesn’t last as long as real leather, and has a lifespan of only about five years.
  • Aesthetically off – while it can imitate the look of the real thing, it doesn’t feel like real leather, and can be quite tough and less pliant.

Irrespective of what material you choose, it is recommended by professional upholsters to opt for whatever fits your budget, your aesthetics, and your overall maintenance capacity.

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