What is Bonded Leather?

The low cost of bi cast leather and bonded leather may sound appealing. Many people are drawn to leather for its long-standing reputation of providing superior comfort and durability. It is important to know the differences in types of leather in order to receive the maximum value for your investment. There are many different types of leather from which to choose, but not all leather is created equal. Some upholstery fabrics have leather components, such as bi cast leather and bonded leather, but they simply do not compare to 100% genuine leather hides.


Prior to leather production, hides are split into different layers. The most valuable and durable layer of the hide is the uppermost, top layer. This premium top layer is used to make genuine leather.  The natural collagen fibers are intertwined the most tightly on the surface of the hide and become more loose further down. Therefore, the value and durability of each layer decreases. Low, inferior layers of the hide are useless by themselves as upholstery material because the fiber structure has minimal integrity. However, these loose fibers are used to make bi cast leather.

Bi cast Leather

Bi cast leather is made using the lowest layers, or “split” of the hide. A polyurethane surface is applied to this inferior substrate, then embossed with a grain pattern to simulate the look of genuine leather that is made from the top layer of the hide. Since Bi cast leather uses a byproduct that is not in demand because of its poor structural integrity, it is much less expensive than genuine leather. It is also less durable and does not “breathe” the way porous, genuine leather does. The polyurethane coating tends to crack and peel over time.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather uses a different approach and is arguably not really leather at all because it does not consist of a single animal hide. Instead, it is a man-made fabric that consists of a mesh of ground up leather scraps that are combined with binding materials and made to mimic the look of genuine leather. Bonded leather is typically sold at a fraction of the cost of genuine leather hides, as it should be. However, promoting it as providing the same benefits as genuine leather hides is misleading. Bonded leather provides none of the benefits of genuine leather, including leather’s porous surface that adjusts to body temperature, leather’s superior durability against daily use, and the gorgeous, rich patina that develops with years of use.

Before  making a leather purchase, know what you are buying. 100% genuine leather is always your best investment. Both bi cast leather and bonded leather deteriorate over time, while genuine leather continues to improve with age. While genuine leather hides may cost more upfront, you’ll enjoy a significantly greater return in the way of comfort, durability, and longevity.

If you have additional questions regarding upholstery leather, please contact us at info@garrettleather.com.



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