Q:

What is PU coated leather?

A:

Polyurethane, or PU, coated leather is split hide leather that is bonded and covered with a polyurethane coat, and then embossed with grain patterns to simulate the appearance of top grain leather. PU is also known as bicast leather and split hide leather.

PU coated leather is a cheaper alternative to top grain and aniline leather. This material is used mostly for glossy shoes and for furniture upholstery. While purists may scoff at PU coated leathers as being mere faux leather, it does simulate the look and feel of natural top grain or aniline leather to a certain extent, it is easier to clean and it is available in different colors. However, PU coated leather does not become supple and develop a patina over time just like a top grain leather and it is susceptible to cracking, sometimes as early as a few months.

Split leather are essentially a by-product of leather manufacturing. The skin of a cow is removed in a single layer in a slaughterhouse and is then taken to a tannery for processing. The outer layer, which will eventually become aniline or top grain leather, is shaved off, leaving the inner layers behind. These inner layers are called split hides, and to make them useful, they are coated with a layer of polyurethane. The resulting material is then used for affordable handbags, belts, shoes and furniture upholstery.

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  • Q:

    What is bonded leather?

    A:

    Bonded leather consists of scraps of real leather, such as cowhide, mixed with polyurethane plastic to create a material that resembles genuine leather. Also called vinyl, this bonded or "reconstituted" leather is attached to a hard-fiber backing and is coated or polished by a manufacturer to make it look more like leather. Real leather is made entirely from durable animal hide.

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  • Q:

    What is synthetic leather?

    A:

    Synthetic leather, also known as faux leather, vinyl or leatherette, is a manmade fabric made using PVC or polyurethane (PU) that is treated and dyed to resemble real leather. Synthetic leather is a cheaper, a more versatile and an ethically friendly alternative to real leather, which is made from tanned animal hides.

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  • Q:

    How do you braid leather?

    A:

    Braid leather by cutting slits into a piece of leather to make three connected parts and weaving the parts together. This takes only a few minutes and requires an 8-ounce piece of leather, a matte knife and a straightedge.

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  • Q:

    How do you distress leather?

    A:

    To distress leather, bend and flex it to create wrinkles, rub alcohol into the creases, and lightly sand the tops of the wrinkles. Try kicking the leather around in dirt, and then rubbing dark shoe polish into the distressed areas to create an aged, worn look.

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