Faux versus real leather

Faux versus real leather

Faux or faux pas?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked by clients planning a new venue, or a refurbishing an existing one, is “do you recommend real or faux leather?”

There’s only one answer to this: “It depends.”  Both real and faux leather have their place when it comes to hotel and restaurant furniture.

Faux leather

Good faux leather really has got a lot better in recent years, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between the best faux and the real thing.

Faux leather comes in two main types: PU (Polyurethane) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). The former is breathable, which is why it’s the preferred choice for high quality furniture. (Another plus is that it’s also free from the non-too-subtle smell of vinyl.)

Because faux leather is a manufactured, rather than a natural, product, it can be dyed and treated to produce a huge range of colours and textures. It can also be treated to make it water resistant.

Faux leather is a lot lighter than real leather and is easier to work with. It has none of the irregularities of a genuine leather hide, so there is less waste. Above all, it is cheaper than real leather, so if you’re planning to refit your venue again in another five years, you might want to opt for the man-made material.

Real leather

That said, if you do invest in real leather, you’re buying a product that will look better and better over the years. People pay a fortune for ‘aged’ leather chairs!

It’s more durable than faux leather, so you’re less likely to get the serious nicks and scratches that will cause the item to need reupholstering, while the natural ageing process itself can give your furniture a whole new look.

Duane Paterson, Projects Director at Ambience Designs, says: “If you’re planning to use a smart new real leather armchair as a statement piece to sit in your reception for the next three years, don’t forget that you can move that armchair elsewhere in your venue after that time, and it will look equally good in a different setting.”

He cites instances of slightly battered leather armchairs adding to the ‘clubby’ look of a bar area, creating an authentic feel it would be difficult to reproduce using synthetic materials.

Real or faux, both leathers need a similar, and very simple, care regime. Regular wiping down with a warm, damp cloth, avoiding the use of any detergents, is the best way to treat your furniture – whether you decide to keep it real, or not.