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What is Bonded Leather? The humble counterpart of real leather

Many a times you would have come across a piece of furniture that looks like leather and feels just as luxurious. However, it’s not as prohibitively priced as real leather. Chances are you are looking at a product made of bonded leather. What is bonded leather you ask? Read on to find out all there is not to know about bonded leather.

What is bonded leather?

Bonded Leather is also called reconstituted leather or blended leather. It comes from animal hide but it differs from real leather in that it is not made of 100% animal hide. Bonded leather is made by shredding leather scraps and leather fibre to form a pulp. This is then meshed between a fibre cloth and a polyurethane coating which is then embossed with a leather-like grain or texture.

How is bonded leather made?

The manufacturing process of bonded leather is similar to making paper. Shredded leather scraps and fibre are mixed with bonding materials and released onto a fibre or paper backing cloth. The material is then dyed and embossed with a leather like texture on the surface. A polyurethane treatment gives the surface a glossy finish. 

how is boned leather made

Why purchase bond leather?

There are various reasons to opt for bonded leather. For most people, it’s due to the comparatively low cost of the product. However, some may choose bonded leather because it can be regarded as environmentally friendly, in so much as it uses leftovers and does not involve additional farming, thereby reducing landfill. The product is also easy to clean and is likely to come in a wide range of design options.

What is bonded leather used for?

Bonded leather can be used for various things such as making furniture, bookbinding and fashion accessories such as shoe components, handbags, belts and textile lining. A more fragile paper-backed bonded leather is used to cover books such as diaries and Bibles, and various types of desk accessories.

what is bonded leather

What is the difference between bonded leather and real leather?

Top grain leather, or “real leather”, is the most common type of real leather that has the “split” part of the hide removed (that’s the layer that would show any natural imperfections or hide marks. The resulting hide is sanded to create an even, smooth texture. This is followed by the addition of dyes and then a finish coat is applied that helps it resist stains. Essentially, real leather makes use of the different layers of the entire hide as opposed to bonded leather which only uses scraps.

How to clean bonded leather?

Bonded leather should be cleaned with a clean damp cloth and wiped dry with a separate cloth. Spilt liquids should be cleaned immediately but no detergents or abrasive cleaners should be used. Non-alkaline cleaners and non-detergent soaps can be used but the material should always be tested for colour fastness on a small area first.

what is bonded leather

Advantages of bonded leather

  • Cost-effective
  • Environmentally friendly as uses leftover hide
  • Minimal variations between batches
  • Soft and pliable

Disadvantages of bonded leather

  • Not as durable as real leather
  • Prone to cracking and peeling
  • Difficult to repair if damaged
  • Expensive in the long-run if product gets damaged

Printing on Leather

At Contrado, we offer a selection of leathers, and they are just as easy to print on as any of our other fabrics. From your pictures to your paintings, you can simply upload your designs using our very user-friendly design interface and see all updates in real-time. Even taking a picture of your favourite surfaces and turning them into patterns is as simple as clicking a button – why not try it for yourself, you can order a small test print to start with?

Now that you know all about bonded leather, get your hands on our leather swatch pack for your next DIY project.

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