The Difference Between Leather and Vinyl

If you were given two pieces of material, side-by-side, could you immediately tell which was leather and which was vinyl fabric? For many people, the answer is “no,” thanks to advancements in vinyl quality that helps it mimic the look and feel of leather. Both leather and vinyl are popular fabric choices for a variety of upholstery needs, including cars, boats, restaurant seating, and residential furniture. Choosing between the two is often a matter of your budget, personal preferences, and intended use.

Years ago, vinyl wasn’t made to the quality it is today, and got a bad reputation as a fake leather imitator. Often referred to as “pleather,” or plastic leather, vinyl was viewed as a knockoff fabric. However, the availability of high-quality vinyl fabrics on the market today gives leather a run for its money. In many instances, leather-simulated vinyl is as good, if not better, than the real thing.

Keeping It Clean

Both leather and vinyl are relatively easy to keep clean compared to other materials, but leather can be trickier to maintain, requiring specific cleaning products to get the job done. It also needs to be conditioned regularly to keep the material supple. On the other hand, vinyl fabric can be cleaned with anything that’s non-abrasive and won’t dry out the vinyl—a simple damp cloth will do.

Price and Selection

On average, vinyl costs about 25 percent less than leather. Leather typically comes in neutral, natural colors, whereas vinyl can be customized in a range of colors and patterns, giving you greater variety in your design choices. Improvements in textures, colors, and grains gives high-quality vinyl an appearance that mimics leather at a lower price.

Repair and Upkeep

Vinyl doesn’t fade or crack as quickly as leather, even when exposed to sunlight. It also resists scrapes and scratches that would ruin leather. The color of leather changes over time, which can make it difficult to match colors when repairs are needed down the road. If you don’t have the time or patience to treat and condition leather fabric every few months, choose vinyl.

Intended Use

Avoid using leather in environments exposed to water or constant sunlight. If you’re looking to upholster your boat or motorcycle, vinyl is the best option. In addition, vinyl is resistant to bacterial growth, making it an ideal fabric for the healthcare industry. When choosing between leather and vinyl, think about how and where you’ll be using the upholstered item.

Vinyl gives you the same stylish appearance of leather with less cost and maintenance. While some people prefer leather for its distinct aroma, unique crease patterns, and patina tint, keep your lifestyle and budget in mind when choosing between the two fabrics.

All Vinyl Fabrics carries a wide array of vinyl materials in multiple colors and textures. You can even order samples of our fabric to ensure it fits your needs and meets your expectations. Contact us today or call 877-618-4695, and one of our vinyl specialists will help you get started.

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