Are you planning to get a new car and you are considering getting a car with leather seats? That sounds awesome, but you probably have come across the comparison of leatherette vs leather. These two terms may sound confusing. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to break it down for you.
- What Is Leather?
- What Is Leatherette?
- Leather Pros & Cons
- Leatherette Pros & Cons
- How To Condition It?
- How To Restore Leather?
One of the first things that drivers like in a car is being comfortable, and what is more comfortable than the good old leather seats. Although cloth has the highest popularity because of its cheap price, it is not that comfortable.
Personally, I have cloth seats in my car and they are really not that good. More specifically, they are not comfortable during long journeys and driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Every day, I spend around an hour getting home from work and my back is simply having a hard time with these seats. Soon, I plan to get something more comfortable.
So, I come across the leatherette vs leather talk and I started learning more about these two types of leather. I’ve then decided to write this article here to further explain the differences between the two and which is the best.
In this article, we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to leatherette vs leather. We will learn the basics of the two materials, and the pros and cons of each of them. Then, we will discuss which of them is the best for you and also how you can maintain and keep both materials in good shape. So, let’s discuss.
What Is Leather? – Leatherette VS Leather
Leather, as the name implies is real leather skin harvested from animals. The leather that is used in the automotive industry is mostly produced out of cow skin.
This material is known for its expensive price and that’s why is used in top-of-the-line products from many car manufacturers. In premium models, leather is the way to go and most carmakers do not even offer an alternative to leather. That’s since nobody would like to get cloth over real leather.
The leather that is used in the automotive industry goes through numerous processes. The most notable process includes tanning, where chemicals are used to make the leather long-lasting and durable. These processes include drying the leather and cleaning off the unnecessary material and finally dying the leather.
The production of leather is long and involves a lot of processes. That’s why the exclusivity of this material on the market is still high and is one of the most popular choices.
But as the technology has evolved, some new processes and materials were discovered and these include creating some artificial materials that resemble leather. This is called leatherette. And that is something that we are going to discuss next.
What Is Leatherette?
Leatherette, on the other hand, also known as fake leather or vegan leather is a leather-like material that resembles leather. This material is created from other components that are not harvested from animals and are vegan friendly. This material is also used in clothing and other products that we use on a daily basis.
Artificial leather isn’t something new and it derives its origins from the 19th century. There are multiple methods for creating fake leather or leatherette.
The most frequent method of creating fake leather, or better-called leatherette, is by covering a sheet of fabric with plastic material.
The base fabric layer can be manufactured either out of synthetic material or by natural wool. Then this leatherette is covered by a layer of PVC, which is soft plastic. This material is extremely soft and accompanied by other production methods that manufacturers use, it can imitate leather rather well.
This material is gaining traction and is becoming a standard in the automotive industry. A lot of car manufacturers have started offering leatherette material or vegan leather as an alternative to real leather.
As they claim, this leather is suffering-free and no animals were hurt while producing this material. But there are some downsides of this material that we are going to cover later in this article when we are going to discuss the pros and cons of leatherette vs leather. Although leatherette is considered a better alternative compared to real leather, there are still some drawbacks when it comes to production and use.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Leather?
There are many pros to using real leather. When you see a leather interior, you immediately fall in love with it. It just looks luxurious and a class above the leatherette material.
Another benefit is the comfort that the leather has compared to other materials. It is very soft and has a special smell that attracts a lot of potential buyers.
The leather is also extremely durable and will not tear easily. Except if it’s protruded with a sharp object. That’s why you should avoid placing sharp objects on the leather.
Another advantage is the ease of cleaning. If you spill something on leather like a can of soda or a cup of coffee. You only have to wipe it off and the leather will be in great condition once again. While if you spill a soda on a cloth seat, good luck cleaning this.
Everything will be sticky and messy and you will have a hard time getting the stains out. Most likely they will still be there forever.
Also, the leather breathes better and you will not experience a lot of heat in the summer compared to leatherette. Even though they are pretty similar in this aspect, real leather has a slight lead.
If you have allergies to materials, leather is also the material to go for when you think of getting a new car. Since it’s natural, it doesn’t have any allergens and you will not experience any rashes or other unpleasant experiences.
And the last thing to mention is the higher resale value. Usually, cars that have leather seats are premium models. So, you will have an easier time selling this car for a good price than a car with cloth seats.
Cons – Leatherette VS Leather
The biggest drawback of leather is the price that the leather has. In this duel, when it comes to leatherette vs leather, the win goes to the leatherette. This is because the price of the leatherette is extremely affordable and almost anyone can purchase it.
It is still more expensive compared to cloth, but the difference is not that big. The cost for vegan leather is somewhere between cloth and real leather.
To avoid wear and tear, the leather should be properly maintained. This can be a difficult task for some people that just don’t want to clean and maintain the leather. That’s why is considered a con.
White leather becomes dirty pretty easily. Yes, that’s right. Although white leather looks stunning when you buy the car. After 10,000 miles it will not look that good as it used to. This is because dirt goes into the small crevices and the dirt darkens the leather. This will look rather off. And the leather will require cleaning more often that will result in bigger maintenance costs.
Don’t place sharp objects on top of the leather since they can deform the leather and make it look not very presentable. These protrusions are extremely difficult to remove and you will have a hard time getting them out, and some of them are unfortunately permanent.
And the last con is the increased temperature of the leather in the summer and extremely cold temperature in the winter.
This can be a problem, especially in winter where the temperatures are freezing and your back is probably going to feel it the most.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Leatherette?
Leatherette has a lot of pros as well as real leather. And we are going to cover them in this chapter to help you out if you consider leatherette vs leather.
The first positive of leatherette is the affordable price. The leatherette is really affordable and is not that expensive to purchase like real leather. Although the price is more expensive than cloth, it is still far more affordable when compared to leather. This means a lot for buyers that don’t want to spend a lot of money. Yet, their car still to looks amazing and presentable in the process.
It is comfy as well. The leatherette is made of soft fabric material and soft PCV plastic that makes the leatherette far more comfortable when compared to regular cloth seats. In the leatherette seats, you are going to start enjoying these long journeys more.
Plus, it’s easy to clean. Not only is it comfortable, but it’s also extremely easy to clean. This material is very maintenance-friendly. So, to clean a spillage or other dirt, you only need to pass once with a wet microfiber towel.
Another pro of using leatherette is the longevity of the color. The leatherette does not fade away or crack if it’s exposed to the elements like regular leather. It will keep its shape uniform and you will not have any trouble with it.
Cons – Leatherette VS Leather
There are also a couple of cons when you consider getting leatherette seats in your vehicle. This is since nothing is perfect and the leatherette will somehow affect you in a negative way.
The first thing that you will notice is the feel. Although it’s designed to mimic real leather, when you touch the material, it just doesn’t feel like real leather. But if you haven’t used leather seats in the past, this might not be a problem for you.
Increased wear and tear are the first problems with leatherette. This is most notable on the side bolsters on the seats. As you get in and out of the car, leatherette tends to wear down and the PVC material starts to crack and fail.
This is very noticeable and might be a deal-breaker for you. That’s since the real leather is far more durable than the leatherette when it comes to wear and tear.
Another con when it comes to leatherette is that the leatherette doesn’t breathe like cloth or real leather. This can be frustrating during the hot summer days when you are going to sweat more than you are sweating in the winter.
Also, leatherette is similar to leather in that it doesn’t heat up easily in winter. So, you might have trouble heating your seat. A heated seat option is always useful when you have either leatherette vs leather material.
Which Material Is The Best For You? Leatherette vs Leather?
There are numerous factors that could be taken before deciding which one should you get for your next car. This is the case because different people fancy different things.
Let’s say if you are a vegan like some people are out there, you will not fancy getting real leather. You will look for a car that has cloth seats or leatherette material. That’s why many automakers these days have rebranded leatherette into vegan leather.
Another factor is the price. Real leather costs significantly more compared to cloth or leatherette. This option can also hurt your budget as well. So, if you have the budget, the best thing is to go for real leather. Another small tip is to get heated and cooled seats if you have the money. Since winters are cold and leather does not heat up quick as leatherette does.
Other arguments why getting a real leather instead of leatherette is the comfort. The real leather is much more comfortable than leatherette material.
Almost all the arguments go for real leather in the leatherette vs leather duel. But most of it depends on you as to which route you are going to take. If your budget is limited and you also want to end animal suffering, then getting leatherette is the way to go. If not, go for real leather. The important thing is that they are both good and bad in different ways. Sometimes it’s up to the taste.
Also, take a test drive and see the quality of the leather or leatherette materials. That’s since you’re probably not going to enjoy all of them. Different manufacturers use different techniques and processes that affect the material, comfort, and durability.
How You Should Maintain Them And Keep Them In Good Shape?
Since we have discussed both of the materials and learned a lot about their pros and cons. Now let’s see how you should maintain them. This is needed in order for you to extend their lifespan. If you don’t maintain these materials. Most likely they will fade away prematurely and you will end up in frustration.
Clean The Seats Often
Cleaning the seats more often will make sure that not only there the seats will be nice and shiny. But there also will be fewer bacteria that are harmful to you and your health. There are products both for leatherette and for leather.
Cleaning leather is easy. You just need the right product and you will be able to do it at your home. First, just apply a small amount of the leather cleaner product on a microfiber towel and you wipe off the excess.
You will notice how on the microfiber towel, there will be a ton of dirt that the leather cleaner has removed.
After cleaning all the interior, using a conditioner will be a good idea. And that’s something that we are going to cover next.
Using A Leather Conditioner
If you plan to buy a car with a leather interior, it is also useful to maintain it properly if you want to enhance the longevity of your leather interior.
There are countless products on the market that will moisturize and rejuvenate the leather on your seats.
After applying some of these products, most of the wrinkles disappear and the leather in your car returns its previous shape. Also, the color of the leather is greatly improved and the white lines that are full of wrinkles are almost gone.
Applying the leather conditioner after you cleaned off the seats is a great idea. By using this product, you are going to protect the leather from future damage.
Tint The Windows
A good idea if you have a leather interior is to tint the rear windows. Tinting the rear windows is legal in most places and you will not have any problem running some dark tints on your car.
The tint foil will aid in reducing the UV light and thus will affect the life of the leather or leatherette. Sun is the number one enemy to your car interior. The more you protect it, the more it will last and the least problems you are going to have with it.
That’s why if you got a new car that has leather seats, it is a good idea to make an appointment in your local tinting shop and darken up your windows. This can also cost you some money but the end result will be amazing.
Tint prices can vary and it’s best to go for the more expensive options rather than going for the cheaper ones like the dye tint. Stay away from this tint. I’m saying this because it doesn’t last for long and will start to peel off. You probably don’t want that in your expensive leather car to happen.
How To Restore Leather? -Leatherette VS Leather
If you have faded leather on your vehicle that has seen better days. Then restoring it will be a good idea. This will rejuvenate the leather and make it look good as new once again.
This is a simple job in fact, and anyone can do it. You only need a good eye for detail, an air compressor, and free time. This work is tedious and if you want to restore the whole leather interior in your car, it will probably take you a week or even more in some cases. We discussed leatherette vs leather, but how to restore leather? Let’s find out.
In the first step, you have to remove all the pieces that you want to restore. If you are doing this process bit by bit it’s hugely unnecessary to disassemble the whole car in pieces.
Now it’s time to prepare the material, and by this, we mean to scuff the material bit by bit in order to remove damaged leather and to even out the crevices.
Now it’s time to apply the dye. This dye is a special leather dye that is created to paint leather. You cannot use any paint for this process. Only special dye. You need to cover the leather with as many coats that you think are enough.
In the final step, you can reassemble the panels and make sure that everything is painted correctly. Quality control when it comes to this type of work is necessary in order to get it right.
Which Has A Better Resale Value? – Leatherette VS Leather
When we are talking about leatherette vs leather it is also useful to discuss its value. That’s since they are not valued the same in the second-hand market.
The leatherette will sell for considerably less amount of money than the real leather. Real leather is much more appreciated when it comes to buying and selling a vehicle.
So, if the leather is in excellent condition and the interior is mint, you can expect to sell the car for much more money than you previously anticipated. Everyone loves a good-looking interior in their car and they are also prepared to pay for this interior.
Car Upholstery: Leather vs. Leatherette Facts
- Car upholstery can be made of different materials, including cloth, fabric, leather, and leatherette, with each type having its unique set of pros and cons.
- Leatherette is a synthetic surface usually made of vinyl or plastic meant to simulate the look and feel of leather, while leather comes from cows.
- Alcantara, a type of upholstery becoming popular in luxury vehicles, is not leather at all but is a type of ultrasuede made out of polyester, which means it is synthetic, like leatherette.
- Good-quality leather feels softer, is more pliant, and should have a pleasant aroma in the car, but it absorbs dirt and spills, stains easily, and requires more care and upkeep.
- Leather is also easier to scratch, making it unsuitable for vehicles carrying pets unless protected. Leather is the most expensive car upholstery but adds to the resale value of the car if well-maintained.
- Leatherette has improved significantly, making it hard to differentiate from real leather. It is easier to clean, as it isn’t porous and can wipe off food or liquid spills easily.
- Leatherette upholstery doesn’t breathe, making it hotter and stickier during warm weather and more prone to perspiration. Ventilated seats might be an option to consider for those living in warmer climates.
- Leatherette is significantly cheaper than leather upholstery, which can cost thousands of dollars more. However, leather is a must-have feature for luxury car buyers, adding to the car’s resale value.
- Leather or leatherette upholstery choices come down to personal preferences and budget. Buyers with kids more prone to spills might prefer leatherette, while luxury car buyers typically prefer the luxury of real leather.
- Knowing the differences between leather and leatherette upholstery can help car buyers make an informed decision when choosing their car’s interior.
Conclusion – Leatherette VS Leather
In this article, we covered a lot when it comes to leatherette vs leather. We learned what they are and what are their positives and negatives.
Leather is appreciated always as a luxury item and it’s still the case until this day. Leatherette, on the other hand, is gaining a lot of traction lately. With each day it gets more popular among the buyers.
Then, we shared our honest opinion on which route you should go. And after this, we discussed how to maintain them and protect them from the elements. This is necessary since you don’t want your interior to get all cracked out.
Finally, we covered how you can restore the leather by painting it with dye. You can even change the color if you want so, it’s up to you.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.