When you go searching for leather furniture, including leather chairs, you may come across some chairs made out of bonded leather. Though a bonded leather chair may be in the style that you want and work well in your room design, you should know before buying that it isn't actually leather at all.
Bonded leather does have some bits of leather in it. According to Conservation-U.S., bonded leather is created from ground scraps of leather, which are then mixed with polyvinyl acetate (PVA), an adhesive compound, and rolled texturised for a leather-like feel. Since bonded leather does have some leather in it though, you may see some retailers advertising bonded leather chairs as leather, so always read the product tags.
One advantage that bonded leather has over real leather is that, due to the fact that the product uses leather scraps that would normally be unsellable in any other way, the price of bonded leather is often considerably cheaper than real leather, which means that furniture items covered with bonded leather, such as bonded leather chairs, will have a lower price tag than standard leather chairs.
A sticking point for leather enthusiasts regarding bonded leather is often quality. According to Furniture Today, some retailers refuse to sell bonded leather because it is not actual leather and the retailers don't want to confuse customers into thinking bonded leather provides the same quality as real leather. Other retailers offer bonded leather as a less expensive alternative to traditional leather furniture.
The chemical used in bonded leather chairs and other bonded leather furniture items is the polyvinyl acetate. Though polyvinyl acetate has been declared safe by the FDA, according to the Georgia Tech Research Institute, and is even used in food preservation in the U.S., vinyl acetate, the polymer used to create polyvinyl acetate has been linked to eye irritation, upper respiratory irritation and coughs in workers exposed to the chemical.
Though bonded leather is not actually leather, it can be cared for in much the same way. If you have bonded leather chairs, you can keep the chairs clean through regular dusting with a dry cloth, and use a wet cloth to wipe up sticky spills. Leather conditioner can also be used to keep bonded leather softer and more pliable.
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- Conservation-US; What is Leatherette? Bonded Leather?
- Furniture Today; Bonded Leather Making Headway; Joan Gunin; February 2008
- Upscale Consignment; What is Bonded Leather?; Ken Gulledge
- Georgia Tech Research Institute; Non-hemostatic Gel; Emily Chambers and Kyla Rogers; 2009
- Environmental Protection Agency; Vinyl Acetate; November 2007