Don't Pick the Wrong One: Leather vs. Vinyl

When making an important purchase, such as a sofa or recliner, you need to choose the right material for your lifestyle. Leather and vinyl furniture have their pros and their cons, and it is essential to pick the one that will give you the most benefits.

Leather and Vinyl Qualities

Top Grain Leather Sofa

Leather furniture has a shiny appearance. It generally comes in aniline, semi-aniline or pigmented finishes. Aniline will give you the natural details found in leather, and is dyed without any added pigments. Semi-aniline has some pigment, and you will see some of those natural details. Leather with a pigmented finish has more heavily-added color, and is normally more resistant to stains. Vinyl furniture is made from a chemical called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and has a more matte finish. When you look at a vinyl sofa in the light, you will see that it does not have the same luster as a leather sofa. Vinyl also has a smoother finish and feel. You can also spot the difference between smells - leather has a rich, earthy aroma. You may come across bonded leather, which when pieces of animal hide are put together to form one piece of material. Bonded leather is often used in high-quality furniture, and can sometimes give a more luxurious appearance. There are also leather and vinyl combinations, where you may see leather material on some areas of the furniture like seat cushions, and vinyl on the back and side panels.

(Pictured: Seven Seas Seating by Bradington Young Savannah Sofa)


Where Leather Wins:

  • Ages Well: Leather becomes softer over time, meaning that it will allow more comfort with every year that passes. Vinyl's composition will not change over time, aside from its normal wear and tear.
  • Sturdy: Since leather is tough, it is not easy to tear, rip or put holes in. Vinyl furniture tears more easily. This is something to keep in mind when using your furniture on a daily basis.
  • Luxurious and Unique Appearance: Leather has a more expensive look, and can be found with its unique grain pattern that is unable to be duplicated.

Where Vinyl Wins:

  • Easy to Clean: Vinyl furniture can usually be cleaned with just a damp cloth. Leather needs to be professionally cleaned - trying to clean it yourself could risk further damage.
  • Animal-Friendly: No animals are harmed when making vinyl furniture.
  • Doesn't Fade: It is difficult for vinyl to fade, whereas leather furniture can fade when left in sunlight for too long. This is important when considering where you plan on keeping your furniture.

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