Difference Between Leather and Leatherette?

When shopping for new furniture, or a newer upholstery, we all look at which upholstery material types come with a specific color that we might be interested in. Does it have different shades? Will it be easy to clean? Or what would be the life of different upholstery material type? Some people have preferences that make or break their decision to buy a certain upholstery material.

The difference between the different upholstery material types such as cloth, leather, and leatherette will help you in your search for your ideal upholstery material which will suit your interiors and budget.

The majority of pieces of furniture available in the market are fitted with cloth, leather or leatherette seats. The difference between cloth and leather is easy to determine but how to differentiate between leather and leatherette? What is leatherette upholstery material and how does it differ from regular leather?

Find the answers to these questions here with Lakdi.

What is leatherette?

When a particular furniture description states it has leatherette upholstery material type then it means it features a synthetic material and not real leather. It is a kind of plastic-based vinyl material, and not made real leather which is made from animal skin like. Because the furniture piece has leatherette upholstery material type which is made from a synthetic material, so it has different properties than real leather which may influence a buyer’ s  decision as well.

Benefits of Leatherette Seating:

  • Repels Food and Liquids
  • Less Likely to Scratch
  • More Affordable
  • Variety of Available Colours
  • Washable
  • Benefits of Leather Seating:
  • More Breathable
  • Extremely Durable
  • Biodegradable
  • Status

How to distinguish leather from leatherette?

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to determine whether a furniture’s upholstery material type is made of leather or a high-quality leatherette. However, to figure out which is it a leatherette or leather one needs to look closely at the pores of the material.

When we look closely at the upholstery material we can easily distinguish between both of them as Real leather will have inconsistently spaced pores while leatherette will have perfectly spaced to repeating pores. Leather will also have a more buttery texture and on the other hand, leatherette will have a slight plastic feel of.

Leatherette is a form of artificial leather and is much cheaper compared to leather unlike leather, it does not fade when exposed to sunlight over an extended period.

Real leather is very soft and more durable than leatherette, but also significantly more expensive. Some people consider leatherette to be a more moral choice as it does not involve animals.


Particulars Leather Leatherette
Material Animal hide treated with chemicals. Natural or synthetic cloth fibers covered in PVC or polyurethane scraps of old leather
Cost Premium price luxury item; much more expensive compared to fake leather. Less expensive than real leather (3-10 times the cost of leather)
Durability Very durable (10-15 years if maintained well), used in rugged conditions, but will fade in sun and degrade with age. Less durable (5-6 years), but more waterproof and ages better.
Washable Usually no Mostly no
Colors Less variety; most often shades of black and brown, sometimes white. Wide variety of colors as it can be dyed easily.
Animal friendly Prone to scratches but better for allergies because leather does not trap allergens like pet dander Mostly, unless made from scraps of leather
Breathable Yes No
Care Higher maintenance, requires treatment to prevent aging. Low maintenance, simple cleaning.
Biodegradable In 50 years. No
Common Uses Automotive interiors, furniture, jackets, work boots & gloves, handbags, shoes. Leatherette-type artificial leather usually associated with automotive upholstery, cheaper handbags, shoes, furniture.
Manufacture Preparatory, tanning, and crusting stages. Bonding of base fibers and PVC or PU cover, treated for texture and colored.
Environmental / Ethical Concerns Factory farming, the use of chemicals in production. Not biodegradable, use of non-renewable materials.

You can even ask for a brochure or can even check the online description of a particular furniture’s upholstery material type used. Once you have found your upholstery material matched with the interior of your choice, use online tools to compare the price value of the furniture or of the selected upholstery material type and about its other specifications.