Faux leather is an excellent choice if you love the look of real leather but need something that is easy to care for. It is durable, long lasting and wipe clean, making it perfect for your home if you have children or pets. Faux leather has many other benefits: it is cheaper than the real deal, it comes in a great range of colours and patterns, and it is far more resistant to cracking and fading in sunlight than real leather.
Faux leather is usually made from polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), with a fabric base. Both substances are hard wearing and relatively inexpensive, although polyurethane is more popular thanks to its breathable qualities, easy care and low environmental impact.
Faux leather is so good at imitating real leather that it can be quite difficult to tell the difference. Sometimes the only way to differentiate between the two is to look at the underside of the fabric, which for faux leather is usually man made material. The strength and feel of faux leather is slightly different too – it is a little more stretchy than the real thing. In most cases with furniture, these differences won’t be apparent to the naked eye, allowing you to achieve the same stylish look at a fraction of the cost.
Although faux leather looks and feels a lot like real leather, there are still some significant differences, mostly in care and wear. Faux leather may not last as long as real leather and its appearance will not improve with age. It also lacks the warmth and smell that is associated with real leather.
On the plus side, faux leather is far more resistant to spills compared with real leather, which is highly porous, absorbent and prone to staining. Real leather is also uneven in colour, having visibly irregular pores and other imperfections as you might expect; faux leather, by contrast, is far more even and consistent in colour and texture.
Aside from its practical qualities, it is worth mentioning that some people choose faux leather because they feel it is a more ethical option, with the real leather industry negatively impacting both animals and the environment. This is, of course, down to personal choice.
The easy-clean nature of faux leather makes it a great choice in a number of areas around the home. In the bedroom, a faux leather headboard or bed will stay much cleaner and fresher than a fabric or real leather alternative.
In the dining room, faux leather chairs are both expensive-looking and practical, as sticky finger marks and spilt food can be easily wiped away after each meal. While plastic chairs have the same wipe-clean benefits, faux leather chairs offer a better level of comfort with their padded seats and backrests.
In the longue, a faux leather sofa provides wipe-clean long-lasting seating where spills and sticky marks can easily be removed with a damp cloth or mild detergent. Elsewhere in the home, faux leather furniture works well where the look of leather is desirable but low maintenance and easy care is essential.
Although faux leather is resistant to stains, it is not entirely immune to them. It is therefore a good idea to treat your furniture with a protective spray or gel that has been specifically designed for this type of material.
Faux leather is very easy to care for from day to day. In most cases, all you’ll need to do is wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth when it gets dirty. It’s best to use cold or lukewarm water, as heat can damage the fabric. If you need to clean off something that is a little stickier, use a little mild detergent – never use bleach. It’s a good idea to wipe up spills quickly as if they are allowed to dry, they can cause the fabric to crack or split.
When faux leather is seen to wear badly, it’s usually for a number of reasons. Harsh cleaning products, over cleaning and spills that have been left untreated can cause the material to crack and split. It’s also unwise to leave your faux leather furniture in direct sunlight. Although the material is less prone to fading than real leather, the sunlight can cause it to dry out.
Faux leather is highly resistant to ripping or tearing but in the event that there is a tear, you have a number of choices for repair. No-heat repair kits are an easy option – these are available in a wide range of colours and grains to match your furniture and require a simple application of a coloured compound. For larger holes, you may need to add a piece of canvas in first.