Genuine Leather VS PU Leather: What is Difference?

Views: 4     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-01-28      Origin: Site

Genuine Leather VS PU Leather: What is Difference?

Leather is an excellent fabric for upholstery because its basic material lasts about 5 years more than any other fabric on the market. But the problem is that pure leather can be a lot more expensive than other fabrics.

Since genuine leather is a bit more expensive, polyurethane or PU leather was created. After its formation, it became a popular upholstery fabric alternative for buyers who wanted to use leather but didn't want to hurt animals or didn't have a big budget. This is where PU leather or polyurethane leather comes into play.

So, let's take an in-depth look at what is PU leather or polyurethane leather, what are its characteristics, how to get high-quality PU leather, and finally its advantages and disadvantages.

What is PU Leather?

PU leather, also known as polyurethane leather, is a split leather that has been treated with a polyurethane coating to make it look like premium top grain leather. Typically, these leathers have an antique look and smooth finish. This leather is mainly used for shoes and furniture.

Other terms for this fabric are "Bicast Leather", "Bycast© Leather" and "Polyurethane Laminated Leather". Often, "PU" is used in conjunction with "Pull-Up Leather". Pull-Up leather is waxed/oiled leather. Therefore, PU leather is a kind of artificial leather that is popular in the market.

PU leather is formed to have the same feel and appearance as genuine leather, but without the use of animal skins. The most common method of forming PU leather is to use a polyurethane coating (plastic) and apply the coating to a substrate made of fibers (usually polyester). This type of leather may be mixed with genuine leather in a method called double cast leather. This leather can use a torn leather base and then layer it with PU or PVC layers.

There are many kinds of imitation leather on the market, and PU leather is one of them. Other types of fake leather are PVC leather, faux leather and synthetic leather. Some fake leather formulations are also made from materials such as kelp and oak.

Authentic Leather VS PU Leather:

However, PU leather is characterized by having a similar feel to genuine leather, but it is characterized by being a little lighter than genuine leather. PU is not as durable as genuine leather and is more prone to tearing. While PU leather will not fade or crack when exposed to sunlight, unlike some genuine leathers. This is why it is often used in vehicles

PU leather is also available in a wider range of patterns, styles and colors than genuine leather. Bringing a glossy finish to leather is just as easy. In terms of maintenance, polyurethane leather rarely requires much maintenance, usually just a damp cloth to wipe the dust off.

Polyurethane leather may have some ecological benefits compared to genuine leather. PU leather does not require animal skins to form, and unlike genuine leather, it does not require tanning. This is good because the tanning process of leather produces a lot of contamination from chemicals used to make leather, such as ammonia and chromium. On the other hand, PU leather is not as recyclable as genuine leather.

Unlike genuine leather, polyurethane leather is not as breathable as genuine leather. However, it is more breathable than other kinds of synthetic leather such as PVC. While genuine leather tends to get softer and better looking over time, PU leather does not. Pu leather maintains a consistent feel and appearance throughout its service life. Finally, polyurethane leather tends to be much less expensive than real leather.


How to distinguish PU leather

You can usually tell the difference between PU leather and genuine leather by reading the label or looking at the price. PU leather is usually much cheaper, and if the item has a label, it may have polyurethane or PU printed on it. If you look closely at the item, it may likewise reveal whether the leather is artificial or real, as the pores of animal skins are only visible on genuine leather. Finally, try to smell the leather, if there is a noticeable plastic smell, it may be polyurethane leather.


PU leather has a special plastic smell. Unlike genuine leather, PU leather tends to have a chemical or plastic odor that can help you differentiate PU leather.


You will find that the main difference between genuine leather and PU leather is the price. Compared to genuine leather, PU leather is generally cheaper because it is easier to make.


Touch the leather to feel its material. If it is genuine leather, it will feel more grainy, and the pores of PU leather cannot imitate the pores of animal skin of genuine leather.

Water test

You can do a water test to check if the leather is PU or real leather. This is an easy way to check if it's fake leather or real leather. After the water test, genuine leather almost absorbs water, while PU leather does not.


Even water testing is not recommended for products you don't own.

Check with the naked eye

If you have a strong eye, you may be able to tell the difference between genuine leather and genuine leather just by looking at the fabric. Leather will have some imperfections and have a real texture. But PU leather looks fake and has an almost patterned, perfectly textured look.

Advantages and disadvantages of PU leather

When you are confused about buying PU or genuine leather, it is best to check the pros and cons to clear your doubts.

PU Leather Advantages:

  • It does not absorb water so you can easily clean the leather

  • better sustainability

  • Costs less than genuine leather

  • 100% Vegetarian

  • it does not dry out over time

  • Available in a variety of styles and colors.

Disadvantages of PU leather:

  • looks fake

  • airtight

  • Has a plastic or chemical odor

  • Easy to crack and wear over time

  • easy to tear or puncture

  • non-biodegradable

  • Not all are vegan as some PU leathers contain leftover genuine leather


After looking at all the sources, all we can say is that PU leather is better only when comparing it to genuine leather from an ethical point of view. It is more sustainable, but to form PU leather, manufacturers use a lot of chemicals in the leather manufacturing process.

Typically, these types of leather are not declared as torn leather, which is inappropriate customer information. Buyers will not be able to see poor quality cracks under the grain. If the film width of the layer is greater than 0.15 mm, these leathers shall be declared as "layered leather". In countries such as New Zealand or Denmark, naming these types of leather as "leather" is prohibited.

So if you are in doubt, be sure to ask if the fabric provided is a layered two-ply leather. If you're only worried about the price tag, you can go for it. But when you also want a high-quality, naturally breathable product, layered leather isn't for you.

However, the advantage of using this PU leather is that it is cheap. But due to their cheap price, these leathers tend to be less durable, and as a result, these leathers tend to suffer damage after a few years of use. Additionally, these leathers lack breathability. The leather feels cooler than lightly coated or uncoated leather due to the firm layer, and these tend to stick to the skin easily.

So think twice before buying this leather instead of genuine leather. If you have more budget, then we recommend you to buy genuine leather instead of PU leather as it has a high polyurethane coating.