Learn the Basics

What is Bonded Leather? The Humble Counterpart of Real Leather

what is bonded leather

Many times you would have come across a piece of furniture that looks like leather and feels just as luxurious. However, it’s not as prohibitively priced as real leather. Chances are you are looking at a product made of bonded leather. What is bonded leather? Read on to find out all there is to know about it.

What is bonded leather?

Bonded Leather is also called reconstituted or blended leather. It comes from animal hide but it is not made of 100% animal hide. That is the main difference to real leather.
It is made by shredding leather scraps and leather fibre to form a pulp. Next, it is meshed between a fibre cloth and a polyurethane coating, and finally embossed with a leather-like grain or texture.

How is bonded leather made?

The manufacturing process of bonded leather is similar to making paper. Shredded leather scraps and fibre are mixed with bonding materials and released onto a fibre or paper backing cloth. The material is then dyed and embossed with a leather like texture on the surface. A polyurethane treatment gives the surface a glossy finish. 

how is bonded leather made

Why purchase it?

There are various reasons to opt for it. Firstly, there is a low cost to the product. Secondly, some may choose bonded leather because it’s environmentally friendly. As it uses leftovers, is does not involve additional farming, thereby reducing landfill. Moreover, the product is easy to clean and is likely to come in a wide range of design options.

What is bonded leather used for?

You can use bonded leather for various things such as making furniture, bookbinding and fashion accessories such as shoe components, handbags, belts and textile lining. A more fragile paper-backed bonded leather is used to cover books such as diaries and Bibles, and various types of desk accessories.

what is bonded leather

What is the difference between bonded and real leather?

Top grain leather, or “real leather”, is the most common type of real leather that has the “split” part of the hide removed. (That’s the layer that would show any natural imperfections or hide marks.) The resulting hide is sanded to create an even, smooth texture. This is followed by the addition of dyes and then a finish coat is applied that helps it resist stains. Essentially, real leather uses different layers of the entire hide as opposed to scraps.

How to clean it

You should clean bonded leather with a clean damp cloth and wiped dry with a separate cloth. Clean spilled liquids immediately but don’t use any detergents or abrasive cleaners. You can use non-alkaline cleaners and non-detergent soaps, but always test the material for colour fastness on a small area first.

what is bonded leather


  • Cost-effective
  • Environmentally friendly as uses leftover hide
  • Minimal variations between batches
  • Soft and pliable


  • Not as durable as real leather
  • Prone to cracking and peeling
  • Difficult to repair if damaged
  • Expensive in the long-run if product damaged

Printing on Leather

At Contrado, we offer a selection of leathers, and they are just as easy to print on as any of our other fabrics. From pictures to your paintings, upload your designs using our very user-friendly design interface and see all updates in real-time. Even taking a picture of your favourite surfaces and turning them into patterns is as simple as clicking a button. Why not try it for yourself, you can order a small test print to start with?

Now that you know all about bonded leather, get your hands on our swatch pack for your next DIY project and feel and see the difference of each leather type.

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