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How to tell bonded leather

Updated February 21, 2017

While bonded leather does not boast a great reputation, it does in fact, contain leather, contrary to what some assert, claiming it's simply fake or plastic. Bonded leather refers to scraps of leather that manufacturers have ground up and applied a substance like latex or adhesive to the leather to create a material that has a similar look and feel of leather. If you're shopping for a couch, jacket, pair of shoes or leather bound book, if you approach the item with a bit of acumen, you can usually determine if you have real or bonded leather.

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  1. Examine the price of the leather item in question. If it is significantly lower than what a genuine leather item of the same size would normally cost, it's most likely bonded leather. Bonded leather items usually cost 2/3 less than their leather equivalents.

  2. Look at the tag. If you see any words such as PVC, polyvinyl, UltraHide, DuraHide Plus and Nupelle, the item is likely to be bonded leather.

  3. Feel the item and pick it up if you can. Bonded leather often feels remarkably less durable and strong as a piece of natural leather will.

  4. Turn the item over looking for the specific symbol that indicates it's genuine leather. This symbol looks like a stylised version of a cowhide, taking on an outline of a bearskin rug and it signifies that a piece is genuine leather. If the object does not have this symbol or the words "genuine leather" on it, it's likely to not be real leather.

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About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

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