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What is PU Leather? The Great Debate: Leather or PU

What is PU Leather?

PU Leather is a material that is most often defined incorrectly. People are sometimes confused by the fact that the word “leather” is used in the name. So, is it real leather, or not? That is the question.

Many items are made from leather: From clothing and shoes to seats in automobiles and airplanes, and so many things in between. Leather, for the most part, is quite expensive, especially if you think about how much leather that it would take to make an airplane seat. Leather also comes with an added amount of maintenance to keep it in good condition.

So, what would a lower cost, lower maintenance material be that would still look pretty much like leather? The answer: Synthetic leather. Synthetic leather has several names: artificial leather, imitation leather, leatherette, faux leather, and PU Leather. The most popular and the name we see most often is PU.


What Is PU Leather Exactly?

PU Leather is a type of synthetic leather that is very popular and is used to make a variety of products. The “PU” stands for “polyurethane”. The polyurethane coating is applied to a fiber base, most likely polyester. Sometimes it is combined with real leather, using a split leather base, and then covered with polyurethane. It does not, however, use the actual animal skin.

What PU Products Can I Buy?

Almost anything that is made of genuine leather can also be made of PU. Most popular are shoes, handbags, wallets, clothing, car, and truck seat covers, furniture, etc.

Why Would I Buy PU?

You’re at a shoe sale. You forgot your reading glasses at home. There are two pairs of shoes that you really like; both are buttery soft, have that gorgeous chocolate brown color, and both fit like a glove. Squinting, you can just make out the large red price on each shoe. Whoa! This pair is $89.95 and the other shoe is $49.95. They almost look identical, so what can cause the price difference? The pair of shoes for $89.95 is genuine leather. The pair for $49.95 is PU Leather. They fit the same and are both soft and similar in style, but that price difference is enough to sway you to buy the PU shoes.

What Are The Other Synthetic Leathers?

Artificial leather and imitation leather, as defined, mean the same thing. They are both made with a textile backing that is then covered with a plastic coating that is smooth and grained. Genuine leather has a grain pattern that is more irregular than imitation or artificial leather. Popular uses for artificial or imitation leather are car seats, seat covers, handbags, and furniture. Chairs and large furniture items, such as headboards and sofas, are much sought after and are made in artificial or imitation leather.

Faux leather looks like leather and is used mainly for shoes, clothing, furniture, handbags, and electronics accessories. Faux leather is made by putting a flexible polymer on cotton or polyester.

Leatherette is a fabric base, made to mimic the look of leather, and is covered with a soft PVC layer (or polyvinyl chloride). Leatherette is one of the most popular choices for a variety of furniture items. Leatherette is also used for many products in the business world such as attache cases and portfolios. Leatherette can even be found on book bindings.

There are many uses for synthetic leathers and as evidenced by its wide popularity, the general public is very much in tune with what this product has to offer. Synthetic leathers do not demand the high maintenance of genuine leather. It is also very hard to clean leather. Whereas, it is quite simple with synthetic leather using just a soft cloth and soap and water. Fading is also a thing of the past with synthetic leathers. It is also much easier to find just what you’re looking for, color-wise, within the synthetic leather family.

So, whether it’s PU Leather, leatherette, artificial, imitation leather, or faux leather, it seems that the population has given a nod in its direction. Synthetic leathers (which get better and better all the time) are giving genuine leather a run for its money. Speaking of money, who wouldn’t want to get a similar-looking item that looks and feels great for about half (or better) the price?

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