Which of the Faux Leather, 52% Polyurethane, 48% Polyester, and 100% Polyester Will Last Longer?

by | Oct 29, 2021 | Ask the Expert | 2 comments

Question:

I’m looking at different types of faux leather. 52% polyurethane 48% polyester, 100% polyester and 95% polyester 5% PU.

What’s the difference and which will last longer? I had a faux leather sofa. After 4 years the material started flaking off. I have a warranty and it is getting replaced. I’m not sure what the makeup of it was, but I don’t want this to happen again.

Mar. 10, 2021

Answer:

If your faux leather started flaking off, it was bonded leather. It is highly unusual for a retailer to agree to replace it under warranty if the flaking began more than one year after your purchase. Most warranties include specific exclusions for this problem.

Recently, over the past year, composite faux leathers made with polyester and polyurethane, have been introduced as a substitute for bonded leather. Retailers are finally waking up to the fact that the thousands of customer complaints about bonded leathers over the past 10 years may actually be hurting their business, now that so many consumers are aware of the problem.

The reason for introducing bonded leathers 10 years ago was that consumers wanted a cheaper alternative to real leather, but were not ready to accept 100% synthetic faux leathers. Salespeople could sell bonded leather as “partially real leather” and imply that this made it better than 100% synthetic. (It wasn’t!)

As a result of bonded leather’s well publicized problems, and the advance in synthetic faux leather technology, the new 100% synthetics look and feel closer to the real thing and consumers are more willing to buy it than they were 10 years ago.

The new composite faux leathers combine polyurethane and polyester in various combinations. In general, the higher the percentage of polyurethane, the better the fabric will look and feel. Also, polyurethane is more expensive than polyester, so faux leathers with higher percentages of polyurethane tend to cost more.

Until very recently, it was almost impossible to find a 100% polyester faux leather that was anywhere close to looking or feeling like real leather. That is changing.

The 52% polyurethane/ 48% polyester has a higher level of polyurethane than most of the new composites. In general, this is an indication it should look and feel very close to real leather and should be highly durable. The 95/5 blend and 100% polyester faux leathers should be less expensive and probably won’t look or feel as much like real leather.

These composite faux leathers are very new in the marketplace. There is no long-term history that shows how durable they will be over 5 years, 10 years or longer. My guess is that they will be durable and last for at least ten years, but that is what “experts” said about bonded leather when it was first introduced.

100% polyurethane faux leathers have been proven to be highly durable (and comfortable) materials that should last 10 – 20 years with occasional cleaning and conditioning.

100% polyester tightly woven fabrics have proven to be highly durable (up to 10 years) for normal fabrics. There is no reason at this time to think that a polyester faux leather will be less durable.

Vinyls are another type of faux leather that is still used in residential furniture. Mostly it is found in leather-match, where a genuine top grain leather is used on the seating and inside areas of the sofa, with a matching vinyl used for the outside backs, arms and bases.

Heavy duty vinyls are extensively used in commercial, healthcare and institutional seating. Heavy duty commercial grade vinyls (and heavy duty polyurethanes) cost far more than the faux leathers used for residential seating.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Consultant

Jeff Frank is a 45 year  furniture industry veteran. He created this blog to provide detailed facts, inside information & advice for furniture shoppers. 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Giovanni Siragusa

    Faux leather from wayfare. Is it reliable and good quality faux?

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Wayfair is a huge online retailer featuring millions of furniture items from thousands of furniture manufacturers.
      Among these you will find every type of faux leather currently being made.
      Do not buy bonded leather.
      All other faux leathers should last at least 10 years under normal conditions.

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