Pu Leather Isn’t Just for the ‘Burbs

pu leather fabric upholstery

“For about half the cost I’ll get you one with twice the features!” It’s been said 100 times 100 ways by the greasy sales clerk at the discount mall, that uncle that only shows up to family events which involve crock pots and covered dishes, and any street vendor hocking his “latest and greatest” in replacements. Americans love substitutes. 8 a.m. meeting a little too early?  See if jimmy can cover it. Those kids playing basket ball in the parking lot dented your bumper? Let’s get a new one.

So what’s the drag with mock materials? According to a new crop of trend watchers and hipsters—Nothing! From matte vinyl to faux fur, styling on a dime is where it’s at!

At the center of this imitation empire is faux leather (literally meaning fake leather). The United States has been producing faux leather since World War II. It’s used in such diverse goods as jackets, upholstery, shoes, automobile interiors, toys for children, and airplane wings (in a different from).

Fake leather is actually not just one material, but a whole family of them. It’s comprised of several materials, products and processes used to imitate leather. Some of the versions utilize well-known chemical compounds, like PVC, while others are cutting-edge scientific designs. As varied as their uses, substances used as a substitute to leather range from matte vinyl to 100% polyester products; some are even just a treatment applied to other fabrics.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC for short) is the original form of imitation leather. It is produced by replacing the hydrogen in vinyl groups with a chloride group. This chem.-gineering created a stronger, more resistant product that was more durable and in many cases lighter than traditional materials. PVC enjoyed much success in the manufacturing world, but, as a fabric, fake leather was criticized as “artificial,” and being “sticky” in hot temperatures.

Hearing the public’s concerns, the DuPont Company was the first to micro-engineer a form of faux leather with pores in it. Making matte vinyl porous allowed for a more comfortable feel next to skin, thus creating the first viable alternative to traditional leather. After that people began to notice some other attractive qualities about fake leather. First of all, it’s not absorbent.

No matter how many ice cream sundaes and soda pops are spilled on an imitation leather couch it won’t stain, and clean up with be as easy as one, two, three squirts of water and a paper towel. Another great thing is it’s fade resistant. Even under prolonged exposure to sunlight, faux leather keeps its color. Traditional fabrics are also no match for the durability imitation leather provides. Today, the most common form of faux leather is Polyurethane, and it’s making its way into the living rooms, bedrooms and the hearts of millions of people around the world.

The bedroom set (pictured above) is perfect example of faux leather in a real way. The headboard is a smooth and comfortable addition to both the bed and the room, providing extra cushions and aesthetic support. The robust dark wood frame matches the night stand, dresser and chest of draws, helping to balance the ambient shade of yellow green. The black imitation leather on the headboard creates equilibrium with the light area rug beneath the bed.  This bed would also work in a more classic country-home-themed room, with cream walls and matching carpet.

Even though faux fabrics are in, discount decorating never goes out. Whether you’re looking to re-outfit your bedroom or liven up your den, imitation leather can breathe new life into old furniture or keep a trendy living room wacky and fun instead of tacky and dumb. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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