What is Bonded Leather?

Many want to own leather. However, as we all know, leather can be quite expensive. There are however many alternatives that look and feel very similar to real leather. They cost less than real leather however its quality is inferior to real leather. One example of a cheap leather alternative is bonded leather. In this article, you will have all you need to know about bonded leather. Get answers to questions like what is bonded leather? What goes into making it? Finally, how is it different from real leather and faux leather?

Bonded Leather
Close up of bonded leather


An important reminder. Before we proceed on talking about what is bonded leather we at Steel Horse Leather Co. do not use it. Our company uses only full-grain natural leather for every product. We assure you that all products are authentic leather. They are from the highest quality of animal hide. Furthermore, at Steel Horse Leather Co. we are working with only the best Leather Artisans to bring your High-Quality Leather products. Our products are therefore superior to any bonded leather products in quality. If you wish to learn more about us click on this link to be redirected to our About Us page.

What Is Bonded Leather And How Is It Made?

Bonded leather is like the Frankenstein of leather. It gets its name “bonded leather” because it basically incorporates leather scraps to form one cohesive fabric. Typically, the scraps make between 10-20% of their whole content. The composition of the various leather scraps however vary. For many companies, they consider the composition of their leather scraps as a trade secret. Others however use whatever leather scraps they can find.

The production of bonded leather is quite similar to the production of paper. To form one leather fabric, the scraps must first become a pulp. To create pulps, the leather scraps go through a leather shredding process. It will then go through the process of combining scraps with fibers and other bonding materials. The next step is to then stick the pulp into a fiber or paper backer. They then coat the pulp with polyurethane. Afterward, they dye and emboss the product. The polyurethane will give the leather a glossy finish while dyeing and embossing the leather will give the leather its leathery texture. These treatments however are only surface treatments. Therefore, its only purpose is to give the product the appearance of genuine leather or what is called Bonded Leather Match.

What Is Bonded Leather Match?

Simply, it is the term that describes the ability of bonded leather manufacturers to create and replicate the appearance of real or genuine leather.

How Can You Tell If Its Bonded Leather?

Just by sight, it is pretty difficult to tell whether that leather accessory is from bonded leather or real leather. There are however a few indicators that will help you identify which is which.

By Price

The obvious difference would the price of the product. Bonded leather is the cheapest of all leather. This is because in making bonded leather you use scraps and other unwanted parts of the leather.

By Touch

While price difference might be an obvious indicator, it is not conclusive. The best way to know is to touch the leather. Feel it with your fingers. Once you have contact with the leather then you can tell if it is bonded. Bonded leather in comparison to other leather will feel thin. This is because it is made out of shredded leather scraps that are turned into pulp. Bonded leather also lacks the softness that real leather has.

By Smell

Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Bonded leather however sometimes gives off a chemical smell. This likely comes from the chemicals that bind the fibers together.

Bonded Leather
Difference between real, bonded, and PU Leather

Why Buy Bonded Leather?

Here are some pros and cons of whether you should buy bonded leather.


  • First, is that bonded leather will cost less than real leather. This is because it contains about 20% less leather. Real leather is 100% leather. Furthermore, it comes from leather scraps which are relatively unwanted parts of the animal skin.
  • Second, it has a smooth, consistent texture. This is because bonded leather does not develop a patina in contrast to real leather. The patina however gives the leather an overall imperfect appearance full of scars and different textures.
  • Third, is that bonded leather comes in a variety of colors and styles. It is important to note however that you can still dye real leather.
  • Fourth, is the smell. Sometimes bonded leather may give off a chemical smell while at some times it gives off a smell similar to genuine leather.
  • Lastly is that it is almost 100% vegan.


  • First, it is not as durable as real leather. It is not even as durable as faux leather. Among the different leather, it has the shortest lifespan.
  • The second is that it is susceptible to wear and tear. It therefore easily scratches, peels, and flakes off.
  • The third is that it colors easily fade. Although it comes in a variety of colors, it will easily fade when exposing it to direct sunlight.
  • Fourth is that overtime, bonded leather might release chemicals that were used to bind it together. This might also be the reason why bonded leather gives of a chemical smell sometimes.
  • Fifth is that bonded leather is hard to clean. Using the wrong kind of cleaning product will strip the leather over time.
  • Lastly, bonded leather is not 100% vegan. This is both a pro and a con because while it uses less real animal skin there are still alternatives to 100% vegan fabric. If you are looking for 100% vegan leather you may want to look for faux leather or PU leather.

Cleaning and Caring

There are different methods when it comes to cleaning leather. For example, cleaning real leather is different from cleaning regular materials. It is delicate and requires the proper cleaning product to not damage the leather. Faux leather on the other hand is the easiest to clean since it does not absorb moisture that much. This is because faux leather is made from synthetic materials, unlike real leather.

Bonded leather on the other hand should be cleaned similar to real leather. This is because it is still made from organic leather scraps. You, therefore, clean bonded leather with care. Similar to cleaning real leather, you should avoid using cleaning products such as detergents or abrasive cleaners. Only use the right products to clean leather. However, you can use non-alkaline cleaners and non-detergent soaps as alternatives.


Overall, bonded leather is a very inferior product in comparison to other leather. It is however cheap which is probably the reason why many consider purchasing it. There is however no harm in purchasing bonded leather. Likewise, it is important to learn the pros and cons before buying. In instances where you do own bonded leather, it is equally important to know how to properly use and take care of it. It might be inferior but with proper care, you can still make the most of it.

Go Back


Blog Search


There are currently no blog comments.