How To Tell If A Sofa Is Made From Real Or Fake Leather

Purchasing new furniture for your home can be exciting. You can completely change the look of your home by replacing old furniture. If you are planning on purchasing a new leather sofa, it is important to be able to determine whether the sofa is made of real leather. Many furniture companies make sofas through bonded leather. Bonded leather is small pieces of discarded leather that are bonded to a polyurethane backing. This is not real leather. If you want to purchase a real leather sofa, and want to know how to identify if a sofa is made of real or fake leather, there are a few ways that you can tell.

Image credit: Elliot Brown

The Label

It is important to check the label on the sofa before you purchase it. The tag will be able to tell you whether the leather is real or not. There are a variety of terms which furniture companies use to describe the material that they used. Often times, it is difficult to know whether the term is one that is used for real or fake leather.

Real Leather:

  • Genuine leather
  • Nubuck
  • Pure aniline
  • Semi-aniline
  • Pigmented leather

Fake Leather:

  • Faux leather
  • Naugahyde
  • Pleather
  • Bonded leather
  • Leatherette

The Price

The price of real leather is substantially higher than that of fake leather. If you look at a price tag, and it does not seem like much money, chances are the leather is not real. The price difference between real leather sofas and fake leather sofas can be hundreds of pounds.


If you look closely at the sofa, you may be able to determine whether it is made of real leather or fake leather.

Real Leather:

  • Natural hide markings
  • Gain characteristics
  • “Fat wrinkles” (wrinkles in the leather caused by the animal’s fat deposits)
  • Rough, uneven seam edges

Fake Leather:

  • Smooth, perfect edge seams
  • The couch is covered in a large, continuous piece of upholstery, rather than smaller, sewn patches.
  • No natural markings, just a fluent, solid colour.

If you know what to feel for, you will be able to determine whether your sofa is real or fake leather by the touch. The feel will be very important when you are in your living room, sitting on the sofa.
Real Leather:

  • “Fat wrinkles”
  • Soft suppleness
  • Slightly uneven feel
  • Warm feeling when you sit

Fake Leather:

  • Cold feeling when you sit
  • Smooth to the touch
  • Stiff feeling

When a couch of genuine leather, you can often tell by the smell. The smell of genuine leather is very distinctive. If the sofa emits an appealing smell, it is likely real. Unprocessed, fine leather will have a stronger smell than real leather which has gone through a mechanical dying, buffing, or sanding process. When leather is fake, it may have an unpleasant smell due to chemicals in its synthetic fibres.

Furniture shopping can be exciting, however, it can also be stressful. If you are not educated on leather furniture, you could end up spending a great deal of money on a sofa that is not worth what you are paying for. You may also end up purchasing something that you don’t really want. When you are able to distinguish the difference between a real leather sofa and a fake leather sofa, you will be able to make an educated decision. In the end, you will have the sofa that you want. It is very important to know how to identify if a sofa is made of real or fake leather. Always purchase the sofa set from a reliable store such as Chesterfield Sofa Company that ensures 100% authenticity of the leather and other material of the sofa.

Take care of your leather sofa with a leather basalm.

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15 thoughts on “How To Tell If A Sofa Is Made From Real Or Fake Leather

  1. Personally, I find it quite difficult when it comes to buying the right sofa/couch for any of the rooms in the house. Yours is really insightful article I can use in the future.

  2. This is a really helpful review. My in-laws bought a ‘leather’ sofa but after a month or so they had a problem with one of the cushions and complained to the store. They took the sofa away and when they returned it, they’d replaced the cushion with leatherette. My MIL went mad because she thought it was a real leather sofa (it was sold as leather) but they pointed out in the terms and conditions of the sale that only parts of the sofa were leather, the rest like the cushions were leatherette.

  3. Some great tips here – we have a leather sofa and it’s real (just tried out your list!)

  4. My elderly parents purchased a large sofa and 2 leather chairs from Argos a few years ago for £890.00.This was the half price cost.They thought.they’d purchased genuine leather but we now think it’s fake.We have contacted Argos and they want us my parents to get a registered and accredited upholsterer to check the sofa and chairs and.also for them to write a report on the outcome.We’ve contacted 2 accredited upholsterers but they say they can’t help my parents out.Is there any way round this or do you know of any company or person we could contact.We live in Glasgow,Scotland.Thanks any help would be appreciated.

    1. I really have no idea I’m afraid. I hope you manage to get it sorted though x

  5. While i was looking for a sofa, some time ago, i found it hard to tell the difference, i must of looked a prize plum, because i was going round doing the sniff test, to see if they smelt like leather haha

  6. Gosh YOU learn something new everyday
    I”‘ll have more of an idea now what to look out for

  7. That is useful. Thank you. As a strict vegetarian, I tend to use smell which is not terribly reliable.

  8. The best info ever. I’m currently looking for a real leather sofa and this information is like gold! Thank you!

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