What is PU Material

If you’re looking for ways to give your interior decor an authentic finish, then you should think about PU leather finishings. Ideal for several types of home or interior styles such as industrial, boho, or rustic, PU leather create the perfect cozy upholstery finish.

Also known as synthetic leather, polyurethane leather, or PU leather for short, is reputable for being 100% vegan, and hence a more preferred option to real leather for anyone averse to animal cruelty and the homemaker on a budget.

What is PU Material

Introduction of PU materials

PU materials are synthetic leather materials made from thermoplastic polymer. They are different from other types of leather such as authentic and faux leather. Authentic leather is 100% animal hide and skin whereas faux leather is made from other materials such as wax.

There are two kinds of PU leather types: semi-synthetic and full-synthetic PU leather materials. Semi-synthetic PU leather (also split leather) is produced with a base made of actual leather and a top made from a polyurethane binder mixture. Full-synthetic PU leather, on the other hand, is made from a polymer base covered by a plastic covering.

Ideal for shoes, furniture, and auto upholstery, PU materials are durable and easy to handle. Car manufacturers also find them useful for car seat covers because they can withstand sunlight.

Manufacturing Process

Manufacturers make PU leather by laminating a 100% polyurethane coating to a fabric or a combination of other materials called the base material. The materials used as a base are rayon, cotton, nylon, or polyester.

To give it the texture and appearance of real leather, they use rollers to apply an artificial grain pattern to it. This patterned texture is often uniform and reflects the final desired outcome (smooth, rough, etc.)  

Manufacturing Process

After this procedure, the PU layer is treated with chemicals to boost its durability and resistance to moisture and stains.

Comparing the Pros and Cons of PU Leather versus Genuine Leather

Leather material has extensive use in several industries including clothing and fashion, furniture making, clothing accessories such as leather bag, and car upholstery. It is essential to identify which leather would best fit your intended use, budget, and personal preference.

We’ve made an attempt to outline the uniqueness and differences between PU leather and real leather. Here are some things to consider while you make your choice.

PU Leather

PU leather is a type of synthetic or artificial leather made from a plastic called polyurethane. Made to look like real animal leather, PU leather is gradually becoming a ready alternative to real leather.

PU Leather


  • PU leather is inexpensive to produce, hence it is budget-friendly.
  • It is easy to clean with a damp cloth and maintain proper care.
  • It is water-resistant, hence doesn’t spoil due to moist or dampness
  • They can be produced in any color of choice, hence they are versatile.


  • It doesn’t last as long as real leather products.
  • It looks faux and punctures easily
  • Artificial leather is not breathable like real leather
  • It could have a lasting smell of chemicals and plastics.
  • With extended use, it cracks, tears, and peels off easily.

Genuine Leather

Real leather is preferred by a lot of people due to its beautiful, breathable aesthetic feel and look. It has widespread use in making leather bags, shoes, belts, and wallets.


  • Corrected grain leather ages beautifully. It develops an exquisite depth of patina that is unique to the user as it gets older
  • It is durable
  • It is breathable and naturally comfortable
  • It is easy to amend when torn
  • Real leather is eco-friendly.
  • It has a higher quality with a luxurious look and texture


  • Real leather is temperature-sensitive. Hence it feels warmer during hot temperatures and cooler during cold temperatures
  • It is prone to wear and tear
  • It is difficult to wash out stains on full grain leather
  • Pure leather will absorb water and if not dried out, it can form spots and steaks
  • It can become stiff and brittle when exposed to extreme dryness.

How to tell if it is Polyurethane Leather?

Leather products usually have labels that show the kind of leather and materials used. Asides from that, there are several other factors that can help you in identifying PU leather. These include:

The Smell

PU leather products have a characteristic plastic or chemical smell. However, the smell fizzes out with age. Hence it might be challenging to detect that smell in a product that is not brand-new.

The Texture

PU leather maintains its texture throughout use, unlike genuine leather which gets softer and more relaxed with use. Although they look alike, their textures can give them away.

The Pores

Pore spaces are another way to tell if you are with authentic leather or not. The fake leather has tiny pores that are not clearly visible, whereas full-grain leather has large pores that are easily noticeable.

The Edges

Describing the material solely by looking at its edge can be challenging, as many synthetic materials may have finishes that resemble natural leather.

The Price

PU leather costs less than full-grain leather. Ideally, the price stamp should indicate if the material you want to purchase is PU leather. Although there are online scammers who would like to defraud others, wholesale and retail shops would sell artificial leather for a significantly cheaper price, unlike real leather.

Water Test

The real leather is not waterproof. It absorbs water and stain, whereas PU leather is water and stain resistant, increasing its durability.

Water Test


Is PU leather waterproof?

Fake leather is water resistant but not waterproof. It has pore spaces so water can get into the leather material. Clothing industries use polyester alongside PU leather to increase its water-resistant feature, but this doesn’t make PU leather waterproof.

Is PU leather genuine leather?

PU leather may look like genuine leather but it is usually 100% artificial. It is described as vegan leather because it doesn’t make use of animal materials in its production.

Is PU leather better than faux leather?

Although PU is not genuine leather, it is different from faux leather. Whereas PU leather makes use of polyurethane, faux leather makes use of materials such as wax, dye, and polyvinyl chloride. Aside from composition, both serve as substitutes for genuine leather.

What is PU leather made from?

PU leather is a 100% vegan leather alternative made from polyurethane. To ensure that your product does not involve animals, avoid any materials that use animal leather, such as bicast leather or top-grain leather.

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