What is Bonded Leather?
Many of the ‘affordable’ leather sofas in High Street furniture stores are not quite what they appear to be. When a real leather sofa is made, the upholsterer takes the cowhide and cuts it into the required shape. As you can imagine there are lots of off-cuts and small pieces of waste leather. All of this is gathered up and ground together by machine into a form of slimy, leathery mulch. This is then glued together with a special polyurethane glue and flattened out into a long sheet. When dry we have ‘bonded leather’.
Bonded leather only needs to have 20% leather content but often has a lot more and it can look quite convincing, even smelling quite authentic when new. It can look great too, especially when brand new. The problem usually arises a couple of years down the line when cracks start to appear and the plastic coating starts to flake off. Then it can look awful.
The shop you bought it from will say it’s fair wear and tear so you have no comeback. The only crumb of comfort may be that the sofa might not have been hugely expensive in the first place but as this can happen after a very short time it’s a real waste of money.
If you look at the red sofa on this page you’ll see that it was almost in new condition. The arms showed hardly any signs of use at all, the frame was still strong and the cushions were hardly worn. We recovered it in fabric for the customer but it was a real waste for that to happen so soon.
We would suggest when buying new that if you can’t stretch your budget to real leather try picking a fabric sofa instead of a bonded leather one. A bonded leather sofa might seem like a great deal at the time but you may well regret it down the road.