Fiona is the editor of Plantpuree, a website that celebrates vegan living. With over 20 years in diet & fitness, fashion, and beauty, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to her work and writing on veganism.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Are you considering buying a faux leather piece of furniture or clothing, but worried it won’t last? You’re not alone! The truth is – faux leather can last for many years but how long depends on several factors – especially the type of faux leather used. There is more than one type and they all contain different properties!
Luckily for you, we’re here to help. In this article, we dive into the composition and construction of different types of faux leathers, how they perform in laboratory tests, and reveal which ones are the most durable and are likely to last. We conclude with a discussion on how you can extend the lifespan of your faux leather products. So if you’re looking for faux or vegan leather materials that can stand the test of time, keep reading!
- The type of faux leather matters – some are thicker and last longer than others
- Conditioning faux leather prevents peeling and cracking
- The life of a faux leather product can be extended through careful maintenance
Table of Contents
How Long Does Faux Leather Last? (Is it Durable?)
Yes, faux leather is durable and can last for up to 5 years if cared for properly. (1) In fact, some manufacturers even guarantee their faux leather products for 5 years against tearing, color loss, and cracking even when the product is exposed to weather conditions! (2)
That said, how long your faux leather item lasts depends on the type of fabric and both it’s composition, and construction -so it’s important that you assess the type of faux leather against how you intend to use the product.
Why Choose Faux Leather?
If you looking for a long lasting, hard wearing fabric that looks and feels like leather – faux leather is ideal.
The durability and performance of faux leathers have come a long way in recent years. New technologies have allowed for materials that closely approximate the look and feel of real leather making it a highly sought after alternative.
And if are an ethical vegan and/or are against contributing to the exploitation and harm of animals then choosing faux leather is non-negotiable. For you, it becomes about understanding what is a “good” faux leather for your needs.
Even if you aren’t vegan, faux leather is a great alternative to animal leather for a variety of other reasons. For starters, faux leather is much more affordable than animal leather which makes it an attractive choice for those who want to save money when buying furniture or clothing.
It’s also easier to maintain since it doesn’t require the same level of care that animal leather does as most products can be wiped down with a damp cloth and some mild soap.
Additionally, faux leather is available in a wide variety of colors and textures, so it’s easier to match with any outfit or decor.
Finally, in addition to being cruelty-free and cheaper, faux leather is also more resistant to water and is not as prone to staining or fading as genuine leather when cared for properly. For all of these reasons, faux leather is a great choice for anyone looking to purchase leather products.
However, the true test is how it holds up over time. Is faux leather durable? How long does it last? Let’s find out.
What is Faux Leather?
Faux leather, also known as vegan leather, fake leather, synthetic leather, pleather, and other terms, refers to a variety of materials that are combined to create a product that mimics the appearance of genuine leather but is not made from animal skin or any other animal-derived products.
Whether you are looking for luxurious and sumptuous vegan leathers used by high end fashion brands such as Nanushka or Stella McCartney, or the sturdier PVC faux leather materials used in the marine industry that won’t wear down, there is a broad range of faux leather options to choose from. Each type of material has distinctive elements and characteristics which provide different looks, textures, and levels of durability.
Faux leather is typically composed of plastic, synthetic substances, and vegetable-based textiles; but there are numerous other materials that can be used. Depending on their origins, these vegan leather alternatives may generally be sorted into 3 distinct categories:
1. Fossil Based Synthetics Leathers
2. Plastic Coated Plant Based Leathers
3. Laboratory Grown Bio-leather
Because of their different origins and composition, each type of vegan leather has unique physical and chemical properties which affect their durability which we’ll explore in the next section.
Construction of Faux Leathers
The construction and manufacturing process of faux leather materials plays an important role in its durability, how long it will last and whether it is suitable for everyday use. (3)
The exact manufacturing process will depend on the type of faux leather being produced but typically, synthetic leather is formed with a textured base and two or more layers of synthetic polymers, usually in the form of PVC-coated polyester fabric or polyurethane film.
To give it the appearance of true leather, its surface can be pressed with an embossed grain pattern. (4)
Of all the synthetic fossil leathers available, PVC and PU – two plastic-based materials – are the most widely used.
Other plant-based materials such as cork, cactus, pineapple leaves and fungus such as mushroom are used to make vegan leathers; although they are not nearly as popular.
Illustration of Faux Leather Manufacturing Process
Illustration of Faux Leather Manufacturing Process (5)
PVC Faux Leather
PVC leather is created by combining polyvinylchloride with stabilizers, plasticizers, and lubricants, making it more flexible and durable. Commonly used base materials include polyester, cotton, nylon, and rayon.
This type of faux leather is commonly used in outdoor furniture and car interiors because of its higher resistance to wear and tear, abrasions, oils, chemicals, and dirt accumulation than other synthetic leathers. It also has high water-resistant properties and the ability to withstand harsh weather for extended periods of time.
PU Faux Leather
PU leather is a synthetic fabric manufactured by bonding polyurethane (PU) to fabrics like rayon, cotton, nylon or polyester. Its surface has an artificial grain pattern that resembles genuine leather with its neat and even finish.
This type of faux leather is often used in shoes, purses and other fashion accessories. It can cope with a downpour of rain but is not as durable and hardwearing as PVC faux leather fabric.
In order to become more eco-friendly and meet consumer demand, brands and manufacturers have been replacing traditional fossil-based raw materials such as PVC and PU with renewable and natural materials. While many of these leathers still contain a plastic coating and are far from where they need to be, they are still a step in the right direction.
A more promising innovation, in terms of sustainable faux leather lies in laboratory grown, bio based leathers which are completely natural.
Plastic Coated Plant Based Leathers
Instead of relying solely on PVC or PUR , these materials feature agricultural waste components like grape skin, apple pomace, cactus leaves – just to name a few!
Another vegan leather – Pinatex has emerged as an eco-friendly alternative in coated textiles. This innovative material is composed of renewable pineapple-leaf fibers that are woven into a non-woven backing and then finished with polylactic acid (PLA) derived from corn starch.
Laboratory Grown Bio-Based Leather
This method of creating sustainable substitutes for leather is achieved through using nature-derived, animal-free fibers and biotechnological procedures.
Through the creation of fungal, bacterial and yeast networks that attempt to replicate the feel of animal hide in one material or coating, these solutions may eventually supplant traditional leather.
An example is Muskin®. However, the cost and scarcity of Muskin®, a product created from mushroom mycelium, has sadly made it a difficult choice as a replacement for other materials for now.
How is the Durability of Faux Leather Measured
To test the durability of faux leather, manufacturers usually carry out tests such as abrasion resistance, tear strength and tensile strength. These tests are designed to imitate varying conditions that a material may endure in day-to-day use.
Besides these tests and depending on the end use of the leather, some industries and manufacturers have their own specific standards for measuring the durability of leather including UV light exposure, high temperature, anti-bacterial activity or chemical contact. For example, the car industry has different requirements for leather used in car seats than the fashion industry has for leather used in clothing.
Methods and Standards for Measuring Leather Durability
According to The Material Innovation Initiative, the durability of each leather is based on 3 key factors:
- Crack resistance
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and ASTM International have come up with criteria to assess these elements. By using standardized testing methods, suppliers and brands can make sure that materials fulfill product specifications as well as customer expectations. This common language creates a standard of quality control across the industry which is beneficial for both manufacturers and consumers. (6,7)
A typical set of metrics for a manufacturer supplying faux leather for indoor office seating might look something like:
|Tensile Strength||ISO1421:1998 (6)|
|Tear Resistance||ISO 4674-1 (7)|
|Seam Slippage Resistance||ISO 13936-2: 2004 (8)|
|Abrasion Resistance (Martindale)||ISO 12947-2 (9)|
|Fastness to Light||ISO 4892-2-2006 (10)|
|Color Fastness to Rubbing||ISO 11640/105 (11)|
|Flexing Endurance||ISO 5402-1 (12)|
|Anti-bacterial Activity||ISO 20743:2013 (13)|
On their websites, vegan leather producers like Ananan Anam and Yarwood Leather, frequently include technical documents that demonstrate how well their leathers hold up to these international standard metrics. (16,17,18)
When you’re researching a brand’s leather quality, if you’re already familiar with the company and their products, you may feel you can trust it’s as long-lasting as they claim. But if not, simply contact them to request information on any tests or standards they use for evaluation purposes. Make sure to stay away from brands that don’t offer full transparency!
Faux Leather Durability Test Results
When examining the results of any durability tests, it is important to understand that “durability” is often a relative term. In other words, a material may be more durable than another in certain conditions but not necessarily in all.
The two most important characteristics are tensile strength (resistance to tearing) and abrasion resistance (resistance to wear and tear). For example, a material may have high tensile strength but low abrasion resistance. This means that it is strong enough to resist tearing when stretched or pulled, but not as resistant to everyday wear and tear.
Fortunately for us, the Freiberg Institute conducted an excellent study in which they compared the composition and durabilty of a variety of faux leather materials against a range of ISO standards.
|Type||Material||Thickness||Strength||Tear Resistance||Water Absorption||Resistance Against Bending|
|ISO 17186||ISO 3376||ISO 3377-1||ISO 17229||ISO 32100|
|Fossil Based Synthetic||PU||1.37||10.2||17||1.4||200,000|
The performance of particular faux leathers is not only interesting in relation to their durability, but so is how they compare to each other. According to the findings of the Freiberg tests, three types of leather —PU, Desserto Cactus leather, and Pinatex Pineapple leather—perform well on a variety of tests. However, PU leather significantly beats Desserto and Pinatex on resistance against bending. (20)
Even so, knowing that vegan leather, such as Desserto Cactus leather, performs well against International Standards for strength and tear resistance only tells us a portion of the tale.
When thinking about how long faux leather will last before it starts to show wear and tear, we still need to consider the end use of the finished product, how well the product is constructed, how it is being cared for, and how often it is used.
How to Extend the Durability of a Faux Leather Product
An understanding of how to care for vegan leather is also an important factor relating to how long faux leather lasts. The more effort you put into maintaining your vegan leather pieces – the longer they will perform
The best way to make sure your faux leather products last, is to use the best quality materials you can afford for their intended purpose. Clearly, indoor faux leather seating cannot be left outside in the rain or direct sunlight – if you need patio sofas – buy outdoor seating! And when they are not in use – store them where they are not exposed to extreme elements.
Additionally, it is important to clean your vegan leather items regularly. This can be done with specialized cleaning and polishing products, as well as warm water and mild soap. Regular cleaning will help prevent dirt and material build-up which is a leading cause of eventual surface abrasion. (21)
So, how long does faux leather last? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. The type of faux leather material is definitely one of the most important ones – some materials such as PVC and PU are more durable than others. While the durability of a particular faux leather product will depend on its quality, the way it is made, cared for, and how often it is used; with proper care and maintenance faux leather can last for years. With the right knowledge and tools, you can make sure your faux leather products stay in great condition for as long as possible.
So, whether you’re looking for shoes or furniture – make sure to buy from a reliable source and take proper care of your faux leather items!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, faux leather can shrink when exposed to extreme temperatures that exceed the temperature thresholds of the particular faux leather in question. It is important to be mindful of the environment in which your faux leather products are stored, as well as how often they are used and cleaned. Taking proper care of your vegan leather items will help ensure their longevity.
Yes, faux leather is generally considered pet-friendly as it is easy to clean and maintain. However, some faux leathers may not be as durable as others so it is important to choose a quality material that meets your needs. It is also important to keep in mind that certain pets may have more destructive tendencies than others – choosing a more durable vegan leather will help protect your furniture in the long run.
How To Wash Faux Leather Pants (Avoid These Mistakes)
How to Break In Faux Leather Shoes The Right Way
How To Store Faux Leather Pants And Avoid Ruining Them
How To Unwrinkle Faux Leather Pants