PU Leather vs Real Leather: Which one is better?
There are different types of products known as “Leather”, but do you know the difference between the PU Leather (Polyurethane Leather) and Real leather? Let us explain it to you.
What is PU Leather?
The PU leather, also known as synthetic leather, it’s an imitation of the real leather created from polyurethane, a plastic with similar feel and aspect to the leather, but without involving animals.
The most common way to create PU leather is using a cover of plastic polyurethane and apply it to a base made of fiber (generally polyester). The PU leather can be combined with real leather to make something called “double-cast” leather. The “double-cast” leather can use a base of divided real leather which later is covered by PVC or PU layer.
The PU leather generally has the same texture as the animal skin (real leather), but in most cases, it’s lighter, and at the same time it is not as durable as the real leather and tends to tear easily. It is also more resistant to the sunlight, and this is why is frequently used to cover car seats and furniture.
About maintenance, the PU leather can also be manufactured in a larger set of textures and colors. You can even give it a glossy finish with ease. Also, the PU leather rarely requires much attention, usually just cleaning with a damp cloth.
As opposed to genuine leather, PU leather is not as breathable. However, it is more breathable than other types of synthetic leather, such as PVC. While genuine leather tends to become more attractive and softer overtime, this is not the case with PU leather, which will maintain a uniform look and feel throughout its life. And finally, PU leather tends to be substantially cheaper than genuine leather.
What is Genuine or Real Leather?
The Helka Backpack | Genuine Vintage Leather Backpack
Real leather is crafted from animal skin, which in our case is cowhide, and must be tanned to avoid decomposition and become usable leather.
It can last a long time and generally gains a nice texture as it ages. If given proper care, an accessory made of this material can last between 10 and 20 years. Genuine leather is difficult to tear or puncture and is also much more breathable and humidity-resistant than most artificial leathers, which can begin to crack and warp in just a few years. And also, unlike synthetic leather, some genuine leathers have hypoallergenic features, which means they repel certain allergens.
The maintenance of leather is a little more complicated than that of PU leather. You can clean it with soap or water over using a damp cloth, but if it gets stained with oil or sweat you will need a special leather cleaner. Genuine leather may need a leather conditioner applied from time to time to keep it supple, or it will become stiff or brittle. This is because the natural oils in leather dry out over time.
Differences Between PU Leather and Real Leather
Now, let's list the most important features of each, and compare.
Strength and durability
The Ragna Backpack | Vintage Leather Backpack
Being this the biggest difference between them, despite both types of leather have a very similar texture, the leather made with PU material is usually thinner, which means that it has less durability as it can be torn more easily and unlike real leather, the PU leather tends to crack and bend over the course of a few years.
Resistance to sunlight
The Bjarke Weekender | Handcrafted Leather Duffle Bag
On the other hand, PU leather is more resistant to the sun's rays than animal leather, which is why it is often used for couches, armchairs and for car and motorcycle seats.
The Olaf Rucksack | Vintage Leather Travel Backpack
While PU leather has a greater variety of thicknesses, colors, and textures than traditional leather, and often has brighter finishes. It is also easier and more convenient to maintain, with cleaning requiring only the occasional wet cloth, while animal leather tends to dry out and always needs care to prevent deterioration.
Although PU leather is more breathable than other synthetic leathers such as the PVC, it is much less breathable than genuine leather.
While PU leather will always maintain the same feel and appearance, genuine leather tends to become softer and way more attractive over time.
One of the reasons, perhaps the main one, why people are choosing PU leather over genuine leather is that the first one is significantly cheaper. This is the most effective way to find out if the product you are buying is made of one material or another. Even so, if you are doubting, you only have to look at the composition that should appear on its label. However, if you're looking for a lasting experience that you can wear practically all the time, more comfortable and with a more classic look, real leather is your best option by far.
Which one do you think is better? If you're on the team of genuine leather, either because you are a big fan of its vintage look or you are in the search of things that last forever, you should put an eye to the backpacks below!