Bonded Leather, also called reconstituted leather or blended leather is a term used for a manufactured upholstery material including animal hide. It is made as a layered structure of a fiber or paper backer, a pulp made from shredded leather and a polyurethane coating which is embossed with a leather-like texture. Retailers can pass this off to you as a “leather” piece but in reality you are getting a substandard material that peels, cracks and splits within a short period of time (6 months to a year) if sat on frequently. What seemed like a great deal at the time will end up costing you more money to replace than to purchase a genuine leather upholstered piece which can last you over 20 years if properly maintained.
If you’re out shopping for a true leather piece do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Many furniture companies fail to tell consumers their bonded leather sofas actually contain very small amounts of real leather, as the percentage of actual animal hide can differ depending on the retailer or manufacturer. Be patient and save the necessary funds for a genuine leather piece, especially if leather is what you really want. Of course, nobody said your furniture has to be leather. Cloth has been around almost as long as animal skin and has many advantages. Most important, it’s more cost effective and many people find it cozier plus no animals are harmed in its making.
When looking for any type of furniture remember the Latin term “caveat emptor….let the buyer beware”!