Leather vs. Polyurethane

What's the Difference?

Leather and polyurethane are both popular materials used in the production of various products, particularly in the fashion and furniture industries. Leather is a natural material made from animal hides, while polyurethane is a synthetic material created through a chemical process. Leather is known for its durability, flexibility, and luxurious feel, but it requires regular maintenance and can be quite expensive. On the other hand, polyurethane is a more affordable and low-maintenance alternative to leather. It is also highly versatile, as it can be made to mimic the look and feel of leather or other materials. However, polyurethane may not have the same level of breathability or longevity as genuine leather. Ultimately, the choice between leather and polyurethane depends on personal preferences, budget, and the intended use of the product.


Photo by Felipe Santana on Unsplash
MaterialGenuine animal hideSynthetic polymer
AppearanceNatural, grain patternsSmooth, consistent texture
Water ResistanceLowHigh
CareRequires special leather care productsEasy to clean with mild soap and water
Photo by Ömer Haktan Bulut on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to choosing the right material for furniture, bags, or other products, leather and polyurethane are two popular options. Both materials have their own unique attributes and advantages. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of leather and polyurethane, comparing their durability, appearance, maintenance, environmental impact, and cost.


Leather is renowned for its exceptional durability. It is a natural material that can withstand wear and tear, making it a long-lasting choice. Leather products often develop a beautiful patina over time, enhancing their aesthetic appeal. On the other hand, polyurethane, a synthetic material, is also known for its durability. It is resistant to scratches, stains, and fading, making it a suitable option for high-traffic areas. However, it may not age as gracefully as leather and can show signs of wear more quickly.


Leather exudes a timeless and luxurious look. Its natural texture and grain patterns give it a unique charm that is difficult to replicate. Leather products often have a rich and warm feel, adding elegance to any space. Polyurethane, on the other hand, can mimic the appearance of leather but lacks the same level of authenticity. While advancements in technology have improved the visual appeal of polyurethane, it may still lack the depth and character found in genuine leather.


Leather requires regular maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. It should be cleaned with a specialized leather cleaner and conditioned periodically to prevent drying and cracking. Spills should be wiped off immediately to avoid staining. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is relatively low maintenance. It can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. Unlike leather, it is less prone to absorbing spills, making it a more forgiving option for households with children or pets.

Environmental Impact

Leather is a natural material sourced from animal hides, making it biodegradable and renewable. However, the leather industry has faced criticism for its environmental impact due to the use of chemicals in the tanning process. Additionally, the livestock industry associated with leather production contributes to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, polyurethane is a synthetic material derived from petroleum. Its production involves the use of fossil fuels and chemicals, making it less environmentally friendly. However, advancements in eco-friendly manufacturing processes have led to the development of more sustainable polyurethane options.


Leather is generally more expensive than polyurethane. The high cost of leather can be attributed to its durability, natural origin, and the craftsmanship involved in its production. Genuine leather products are often seen as a luxury investment. On the other hand, polyurethane is a more affordable alternative. Its synthetic nature allows for cost-effective production, making it a budget-friendly choice for those seeking a leather-like appearance without the hefty price tag.


When it comes to choosing between leather and polyurethane, it ultimately depends on individual preferences and priorities. Leather offers unmatched durability, a luxurious appearance, and a natural charm, but requires more maintenance and comes at a higher cost. Polyurethane, on the other hand, provides a durable and low-maintenance option with a more affordable price point, although it may lack the same level of authenticity and environmental sustainability as leather. Consider your needs, budget, and values to make an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.

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