Bonded Leather and Genuine Leather Sofa Differences

This is a question every person looking to buy their first piece of furniture asks. Not all leather sofas are made the same way; in fact, bonded leather is not legally real leather because, while it is technically leather, the components used to make it are not real. Bonded leather is about fifteen percent leather, and is made from quality leather that drops during processing. 

There are plenty of things you need to know about the differences between bonded leather and genuine leather sofa before making a buying decision. 

Today, I have compiled a simple guide to help you make the right decision between bonded leather and genuine leather. 

Genuine Leather vs Bonded Leather 


When it comes to quality, a bonded leather sofa is not too inferior to a genuine leather sofa as you may think. The leather used is a man-made textile consisting of fell off scraps of leather. The fused material is coated to look like genuine leather. 

Bonded leather is most often marketed as leather even though it is not a hundred percent. This way, buyers can think that they are buying genuine leather at a lower price. 

Genuine leather is made from authentic leather. During the separation of real leather, more valuable Full Grain and Top Grain leather are removed first, leaving behind genuine leather, which is used to make sofas. But this does not mean the natural leather is not top quality; there is a significant gap quality between bonded and genuine leather. 

Genuine leather is much more resistant to spillage and liquids, and so they can survive even with less maintenance. 


Though bonded and real leather look almost the same, price is what can help you tell the difference. If you see a leather sofa being sold at a great deal, know that it is probably bonded. Genuine leather sofas are typically expensive, and you should expect to part with a few hundred dollars more than bonded leather.

In terms of price, a bonded leather sofa may seem ideal for most people but remember upfront savings usually come with additional costs in the long-run.


Both genuine and bonded leather requires proper regular cleaning and maintenance to last longer. To schedule a weekly cleaning routine for your furniture, starting with vacuuming the cushions and then wipe using a damp towel. At least once a year, use conditioner designed to nourish the leather. 


Genuine leather sofas last longer than bonded leather sofas for apparent reasons. The composite design of bonded leather makes it susceptible to damages and show wear and tear faster compared to real leather. 

Sometimes exposure to sunlight can also fade or dry the material in bonded leather quickly. If you want your knockoff leather sofa to last, make sure you take proper care of it and avoid placing heavy objects on top of them. 

For the above reason, a bonded leather sofa may not be an ideal option for high-volume rooms. 

How to tell the difference between bonded and genuine leather 

If you have made up your mind on the type of sofa you want between bonded and genuine leather, you still need to know how to differentiate them. 

Below are easy ways to decipher the difference between bonded and genuine leather:

  • Look 

If you look carefully at the surface of the leather, you should be able to tell if it is real or bonded. In the case of genuine leather, its surface will not be completely uniform because it is made of real animal skin. There will be some imperfections and blemishes, but don’t be dissuaded, those are a sign of quality, genuine leather. 

Bonded leather on the other side tends to have an utterly uninformed surface because of resurfacing by a machine to try and mimic the real leather. 

  • Read 

One way to tell the difference between real leather and bonded leather is just to read the label. If it is genuine leather, the tag will say so, though some tend to make it hard for customers to find the label.

You will see something like “full-grain leather,” “100 % leather,” “top grain leather” and so on. 

Bonded leather usually doesn’t have any information about the material, and if it does, it will be well-hidden. 

  • Smell 

Leather has a unique smell. It is something like a natural, animal, skin smell that even the most advanced machine cannot manufacture.

Since there is no real and reliable way to mimic a natural leather smell, bonded leather will have a combination of chemical and plastic smell.