How Can I Tell The Difference?

So if you have been reading around the site, by now you know that there are tons of different types of leathers, some good, and some bad. The burning question is “How can I tell the difference between good and bad?” That is a really good question that doesn’t have nearly as simple of an answer. In most situations it is hard to tell real leather from fake leather, and that is especially true when buying online. So let’s start with if you are examining leather in person.


If anyone thinks this is what people naturally look like, wake up and look around.

One of the biggest ways to tell is by becoming familiar with what leather feels like, and using your sense of touch to find the counterfeits. Fake leathers, and cheap quality leathers have a smooth plasticy feel to them, and when they are bent at extreme angles, you can see they have a slight tendency to crack.If it has an artificial looking shine, that is a good warning sign as well. It indicates the the outside of the leather is not hide, but polyurethane(thought this can be a tricky one, since real leather, especially in furniture, can be shiny). One major indicator that I look at personally is signs of imperfection. Think of leather like you think about people. When you see a mannequin in a storefront, or a model in a magazine, it is usually pretty easy to tell that they are plastic or photoshopped, and that is because we all have imperfections. We have scars and wrinkles and blemishes, and discolorations, and that is part of what makes us unique. True leather is the same was, so if it looks as perfect as plastic, then it probably is.

What About Online?

A lot of shopping is done online nowadays.

Which sofa is which?

One of these sofas is top grain, the other is bonded leather. Can you tell which is which?

Some of the best deals

are online, and depending on where you live, there may not be a conveniently located local leather artisan in your area. So how do you tell whether leather is quality if you can’t handle it?

It is virtually impossible to tell real leather from fake leather from

images alone. Let’s just get that out of the way now. Seeing if it “looks good” on an image is a good way to get yourself in trouble.There are a couple different options I take when I am doing my reviews.

Leather Sofa

One is to look for keywords.Instead of searching for leather, search for top grain leather or full grain leather.If people use those words to advertise a product that is bicast leather or faux leather, they can get in legal trouble, so you are usually safe.

Keyword there is usually.

I emphasize that word because they can still be tricky. For example, I have searched for top grain leather sofas(they rarely use full grain in furniture and it is quite expensive if they do) and found results that say “Top grain leather sofa”, but on further examination the full description is “top grain leather seating areas with carefully matched vinyl in other areas”. It could be worse, and maybe that is what you are looking for, but if you want leather to be on more than just your seat cushions, you would need to find a different sofa. So doing your research helps. One of the reasons I like the smaller companies is I can ask them. I have talked to almost every company that I review, and have verified the quality of their leather with them. That is why if I have given any product a rating over 1, you can feel fairly confident in getting a real leather product. So if you are in a situation where you aren’t sure, ask an expert. Ask the maker, or ask me if you wish. I am available on various social media sites as well as at our contact page, and I would love to hear your individual circumstance and see if I can help.