The real difference between vinyl and leather: A test of quality

When it comes time to furnish your home, the options are limitless – too limitless, perhaps. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of colors, sizes, materials and finishes available to you. We hope to shed light on an issue that comes up quite often: the difference between vinyl and leather. Is it really worth the extra money to invest in genuine leather? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Leather adds a sense of luxury and extravagance to a home. Leather furniture is classic and able to be paired with any design style. And, of course, nothing quite beats the comfort of a leather sofa or armchair.

Why is leather better than vinyl?

Leather is created through the tanning of animal skin or hides. The material is rich, flexible and soft to the touch. Vinyl, on the other hand, is a synthetic substance composed of resin or plastic. The material is very versatile and used in a variety of manners (think vinyl records or vinyl flooring). Its most popular use, however, is as a substitute for leather.

Though vinyl can be made to look almost identical to leather, there is a substantial difference in quality between the two. Leather is much more durable than vinyl and, with proper care, will last much longer. Over time, leather becomes softer. Softness, of course, is a very important attribute in furniture. The production of vinyl has come along way over the years but, like most synthetics, the material will eventually be subjected to deterioration in the form of cracking or splitting.

How do you tell the difference between leather and vinyl?

It can be tricky to tell if a piece of furniture is made of leather, vinyl or a combination of the two (sometimes called “bonded leather”). First and foremost, check the labels. Be on the look out for terms such as “pleather” or “faux leather.” In contrast, genuine leather will be marked as such. Next, check out the grain of the material. If the pattern in the grain is repeated, it is likely vinyl or another manmade material. Leather will not have an identifiable pattern, as it is individual to the animal from which it came. No two leather items can be exactly the same. Finally, leather has a distinctive scent (from the chemicals and dyes used to treat the material) not found in vinyl.

We invite you to come out and test the difference for yourself. The extensive showroom at Brumbaugh’s Fine Home Furnishings is home to a variety of beautiful leather sofas, recliners and armchairs. There is no substitute for the quality, comfort and style of genuine leather.

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