Leather vs Vinyl

Designers, upholsterers, and manufacturers are faced with many options when determining what upholstery material to use. While vinyl may be considered as an inexpensive alternative to leather, no other material offers the durability, longevity and comfort as premium genuine leather. In the long run, purchasing leather may actually be more cost effective, as leather reduces maintenance costs and often outlasts the furniture upon which it is upholstered.

Pearlessence® with Seashells Impress. Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, FL



1. A natural product made from bovine and other animal skin that has been used for centuries.
1. Vinyl is formed from the chemical compound polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC.
2. As a natural product, leather consists of an intricate structure of collagen fibers that are intertwined in such a way as to provide exceptional flexibility, strength and durability that cannot be duplicated with any man-made product.
2. Vinyl is uniform in weave, and therefore, does not offer the same flexibility, strength and durability as natural leather.
3. As a natural product, leather is porous, which allows it to “breathe”. This means it remains cool to the touch and adjusts to body temperature, making it a comfortable option for any setting.
3. Vinyl is non-porous and does not adjust to body temperature. It is not as comfortable because it becomes sticky with prolonged exposure to body heat.
4. Leather wears well and becomes softer and more pliable with time. Many leather products develop a beautiful patina with use.
4. Vinyl is stiffer and may crack with extended use. A rich patina will not develop with vinyl.
5. Many finished leathers offer superior durability for high traffic areas. Some leathers pass stringent testing for waterproof and anti-bacterial properties. Leather is an ideal option for allergy sufferers who may be allergic to dust in fabric. Simple cleaning with warm water and mild soap is all that is required for proper maintenance.
5. Vinyl is usually considered easy to clean, however, often times harsh cleaners are required since it does not offer the same anti-bacterial properties that some leather products do.

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