Cheat sheet:  types of “leather” in furniture


To help you make an informed purchasing decision when shopping for leather furniture, here are some of the common types of leather and imitation leather that you may find. This is not an exhaustive list. For more information, view the Competition Bureau’s Consumer Alert on leather furniture.

Bi-cast (bycast) leather (also known as PU leather):
Leather that is split, with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed to give an appearance of top grain leather. The result is an artificially consistent texture.

Bonded leather (also known as reconstituted leather):
Leather that is made from leather fibers that are shredded, bonded together with polyurethane or latex and then finished to give an appearance of leather.

Faux leather:
Faux leather is entirely man-made using synthetic materials such as plastic to give the look and feel of real leather, typically at a lower price. Another term for faux leather is “pleather”.

Full grain leather:
Leather made from the outer layer of the skin of the animal that possesses its original, natural grain and markings.

Genuine leather:
A general term usually used to describe leather that is not top grain or full grain. In many cases, genuine leather is actually split leather.

An imitation material that resembles leather.

Split leather:
Leather made from the under layers of the skin, which has been detached from the top grain. Generally, split leather is finished to give the appearance of top grain leather.

Suede Leather:
A split leather that has been textured on one side to produce a velvet-like napped finish.

Top grain leather:
Leather from the top layer of the hide that is sanded or buffed to remove all surface imperfections and flaws. Some top grain leathers have an artificial grain stamped onto its surface to provide a more uniform look.

Vegan leather:
Vegan leather is not animal skin. It is made from natural materials such as cork, kelp or pineapple and, more commonly, synthetic materials such as plastic.

Vinyl leather:
A synthetic material composed of resin or plastic that resembles leather.

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