Why PU leather is also a popular upholstery for chairs and is it as comfy as the Real Thing?

What is PU leather? Is it as comfy as the Real Thing?

PU leather

Leather gives off that executive bossy look or a rockstar vibe that can complete your gaming haven. But real leather can be very hard to come by, considering the cost and availability. That’s why PU leather is also a popular upholstery for chairs. It’s a cheaper alternative to the real thing. But can it be as comfortable?

How is PU leather made?

This synthetic material made from split leather is the part of the animal hide that is left over after producing real, high-quality leather-like top-grain or full-grain leather. So while a teeny weeny part of it may still come from an animal, it is rendered using artificial materials. Think of it as having tiny parts of a leftover from a genuine leather,  the entire lot is covered with polyurethane, which gives it the classic glossy finish. 

Is it bad? Well from the sound of it, it might. But it does have advantages, a lowered cost among others.  That’s why it’s a more economical choice if you fancy leather but you’re not willing to spend a lot. The cost of manufacturing this synthetic material is quite low compared to the real thing. There are also circumstances where you would benefit from this synthetic material.

pu leather chair

When synthetic leather can be cool

Here are some of the reasons why it can be okay or even better to go for PU leather.

It can still look regal and posh at a lower price

If you’re going after an executive look for your office that does not break the budget, this material is the way to go. It doesn’t have the same authenticity and breathability as genie leather, but good quality PU leather can come close to how the genuine thing looks.  Higher-grade PU leather can be very deceiving, especially to those with an untrained eye. 

This is perhaps the primary advantage of this material: You get that regal sophisticated look while getting to buy other necessary things for your home office. 

It is very convenient for clean-ups

PU leather is also very easy when it comes to clean-ups. Should you spill coffee or soda, the liquid will just settle at the top. You just need a clean cloth to wipe it off, you don’t even need to brush it or use soap. Bum sweats are also easier to get rid off, just wipe it off and you don’t have to worry much about the smell lingering or seeing through the material.

It is also stain-resistant, so those who are very clumsy with their drinks can benefit a lot from PU leather.  You don’t need to worry about accidentally pouring the nastiest liquid such as red wine. So you can drink your fancy while working on your deadlines, even red wine will not be a problem. 

It can be pretty durable too

Though cheaper than the genuine thing,  it can actually hold itself up pretty well. Though lower-grade PU leather may show off wear and tear and may even crack, you will still be able to sit comfortably as you did the first time you bought it. But it’s better to go for higher-grade PU leather so you can also get the most value from your purchase, the cheapest ones tend to crack rather easily.

That’s also the beauty of PU leather, it can get more comfortable as you sit on it, and it does sort of have a break-in period.  

PU leather is highly customizable

This is one of the perks of getting an office chair made of PU leather, you can get it in an array of colors. You can also have printed logos on it. The cost of manufacturing and customizing PU leather is quite affordable. So everyone will be able to get theirs and their favorite color.  

It is easy on the budget

From the materials used to the costs involved in manufacturing PU leather is within acceptable range. Even when you buy higher-grade versions, it is still much cheaper than buying real leather. 

pu leather chair 1

Who should not get PU leather?

PU leather rocks look clean and easier to maintain. But as much as it can amp up the look of your home office and make it look like an executive’s lair, there are instances where it can be better to go mesh or fabric. And here they are.

You are a heavy sweater

Unlike genuine leather, this can trap a lot of heat. Remember it is stain and spill-resistant, it is nonpermeable. So even air will not be able to go through it.Even if it is not yet summer, heavy sweaters may feel their bums sweating more with a PU leather office chair. Bum sweats are not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but they can also breed bacteria and smell if not attended to.  So word from the wise, do not take bum sweat lightly, especially if you have lingering skin issues. 

Lower-grade PU leather can be very uncomfortable

Cheaper PU leather not only feels hot, but it can also be icky and scratchy.  They can also peel or crack more easily, that’s why you also have to be choosy when buying chairs made of this material. Never settle for the cheapest just to save money, you might be sitting on a rough and icky PU leather chair that can crack easily.  

It might not last for some time

Aside from peeling and cracking, you have another thing to worry about. Regardless if it is higher grade PU leather or the cheapest, it is not immune to cat scratches.  Cats have developed a distinct love for getting their claws on anything leather, be it genuine or synthetic.  They may also go for your fabric chair, but the claw punctures are not that noticeable on it. And between leather and fabric, they favor destroying leather the most. So if you have cats, keep your leather chair away from them, or else don’t get anything leather.

Cheaper PU leather can look really tacky 

While higher-grade ones can mimic how genuine leather looks and feels, the more economical ones can give themselves away that easily. Even from afar you will be able to tell cheap leather from quality ones, regardless if it’s synthetic or real.  

pu leather chair 2

So if your goal is to make your office look more regal, do not buy cheaper PU leather.  The impact on the environment is still questionable . Manufacturing PU leather is easier, and faster, and entails fewer materials and procedures that can hurt the environment. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are green solutions.

This one is still up for argument. It still makes use of synthetic materials that may or may not have an impact on the environment. Cheaper PU leathers are also notorious for giving off VOC emissions.

PU Leather vs genuine leather

Genuine leather is more breathable, feels more flexible, and may have distinct grain marks on it. PU leather feels more even, lacks stretchiness, and appears more cohesive. Aesthetic-wise, the real deal is better and the grain marks lend a distinct charm to that. Comfort-wise, it’s also better since it can feel softer on the skin and maybe a tad more breathable than PU leather.  But the cost of making the real deal is quite high. And it’s not that easy to manufacture real leather, it can take some time and can require a lot of resources. That’s why the cost is sometimes ridiculous, not to mention, that it can spark debate on groups that are against using any part of animals for human consumption and use. 

This is perhaps the primary reason why a synthetic counterpart was born, to address the issue of very high cost, limited availability, and debate on animal use. So despite being inferior in all aspects, it can still be a decent alternative. Higher-grade PU leather may come close to how genuine leather looks, and feels and can last longer too. 

Oh, the real leather can also fade when exposed to the sun. Though this can also add charm to an old chair, it also depends on your aesthetic preferences.  

PU leather vs fabric

If you want easy clean up, go for leather. But expect it to be less breathable and you can really suffer from bum sweats if you are heavier. Come summer, you might not be able to tolerate sitting on leather for more than two hours. Fabric then is better if you need to be more airy and cool. Though cleaning up can be a nightmare especially if you tend to spill liquids everywhere. If this is the case, you can opt to go for fabric materials that are at least liquid-resistant. This can prevent the liquid from seeping through the material. However, you still need to allot more time to cleaning should you accidentally spill colored liquids on your off-fabric chair.  And you might need to do more than just wipe off liquid from the top surface of the material.

Aesthetic-wise, which is better depends on the look that you are going for. But if we are speaking of the comfort level and durability, it also depends on the grade or type of the fabric the chair has, a cheap fabric is still more airy than cheap PU leather. But that doesn’t mean that it can be more comfortable, cheaper fabric chairs can be scratchy and irritating too. 

PU leather vs mesh

Out of all the materials used for chair upholstery, mesh is king when it comes to breathability. Even cheap mesh is airy than cheap leather or cheap fabric. But then again, it does not mean that it is the most comfortable. Low-grade mesh can also be scratchy, it can also be too firm, and can even cause back pain. That’s why always do your research and never for the cheapest you see in the lot without trying the chair out first.  Scratchy mesh can just be as uncomfortable as PU leather on a summer day, just different types of discomfort but the same nuisance. So which is better also depends on how you would like your chair to feel on the bum and the back.

Just how comfy is it?

Whether you’re choosing fabric mesh, or leather, going the cheapest route will make you suffer. Breathability is a major consideration when choosing leather. And you also have to weigh it against the possible cons that you may experience.

And to downplay the consequences of a less breathable material, it’s best to go for higher-grade PU leather. This can mean amping up the benefits while making the caveats a bit more bearable. 

So while the real deal can be quite comfy, getting high quality PU leather chairs can come close to how it feels.