If we talk about material for your stuff like clothes, bags, seats or even furniture, there are many points to think about. Ease of cleaning, durability, color, and of course environmental concerns – all these factors play their role in your final decision.


Leather and leatherette are 2 of the most popular materials for many types of furniture. Occasionally, office and dining chairs, sofas, bar stools, ottomans can be produced with either leatherette or leather. Each material comes with its own set of pros and cons. It is only up to you to decide what you need depending on your priorities.

They look and feel similar – but the difference exists, what is it?

Here’s a look at the difference between these two materials and the pros and cons associated with each.

What is Leatherette?


Leatherette is a synthetic material for shoes, furniture, clothing, haberdashery, and technical products production. It is usually made of a type of plastic or vinyl to mimic leather, unlike leather that is treated with chemicals, and usually comes from a cow. It is also known as faux, synthetic or fake leather, and pleather.

If we talk about the furniture industry, the most common name is leatherette.

As a rule, it is made from synthetic or natural cloth fibers coated in polyurethane or PVC and doesn’t contain animal by-products. Leatherette was designed to compensate for the deficit of natural leather and reduce production costs.

Real leather is treated with chemicals to hide smells and make it more durable because it is made from animals. This contrast means many differences between leatherette and leather.

An air ionizer may help hide the smell, but what about the other differences.

What are the Differences between Leatherette and Leather

  1. The main point is the price. Leatherette is much cheaper than leather. It is often half the price of leather because its production requires more money and leather od good quality feels more pliant and softer. Anyway, the quality of the leather depends on the type of an animal and the place and climate in which it lived, and the skill of the workers performing the tanning and processing.
  2. Ease of clean? Leather is hard to clean. This porous and not washable material absorbs odors easily. The wrong cleaning agents can strip the natural oils from your leather. Leatherette is also not washable, but is less porous and waterproof. It easier to clean with a damp cloth, and food or drink spilled onto it can be wiped off easily.
  3. Leather is long lasting (fifteen years in good condition) and has higher maintenance than leatherette (ten years). Leather resists punctures and tears very well. At the same time, leather is easy to scratch, so it is not for you if you have a pet.
  4. Biodegradability. Leather is biodegradable (after 50 years), leatherette – is not.
  5. Aging. Leather can fade under constant sunlight exposure and demands protection or treatment to prevent it. It is also getting softer after years of use. Leatherette doesn’t fade, but if you use it heavy, the top layer can crack, making it look more worn. Leather requires the most care.
  6. Breathability. Leather breathes well thanks to its porous texture that’s why it is more comfortable in hot weather. Leatherette doesn’t breathe well and can make you sweat in hot weather. If you choose leatherette for your car, consider ventilated seats especially if you live in a warm climate.

What’s the Right Choice?

Choosing between leatherette and leather is determined by your lifestyle and needs. Of course, leather is more breathable, and it may seem a better choice if you live in a hot climate. But if you wanna save money and animals leatherette is what you need. Leatherette is getting more popular and durable.

Despite many buyers of luxury cars consider leather a must-have feature, Alcantara (ultrasuede made out of polyester) is used as upholstery in luxury vehicles and doesn’t contain animal by-products. When it comes to color, leatherette also offers a wider range of choices.

Nowadays, leatherette has much higher quality than it was 10 years ago since this material has almost the same strength, quality, and durability as leather. It is often hard to differ real leather from leatherette. At the same time, leatherette is easier to keep clean and it doesn’t require specialized cleaning supplies to look new.

Leatherette is a better choice for those looking for a luxury look and easier cleaning and maintenance. But for those who consider the environmental problems, the fact that leatherette is made from non-renewable materials and is not biodegradable may be a serious weakness.

The choice between leatherette and leather comes down to your wants and needs. Consider your budget, priorities, and the climate in your area.

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About the Author

Joshua Howard

I'm a healthy living blogger who loves to help people who care about having an eco-friendly home environment and a healthy lifestyle. With proper nutrition I helped my brother to cure gastritis and my father to normalize his blood pressure.

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