A client contacted us saying that they had purchased a new solid timber dining suite with eight chairs about ten years ago, they liked the solid structural design of their furniture however the “leather” was disintegrating. When we inspected the dining chairs and a few probing questions were asked they admitted that the dining suite was sold to them with “reconstituted leather” upholstery on the chairs.

Reconstituted leather which is occasionally referred to as bonded or blended leather can only be described as a very poor substitute for real leather. The process starts with leather off-cuts and reject hides which are shredded and made into a pulp. This pulp is then mixed with bonding materials and rolled into a continuous layer and then coated with polyurethane. The polyurethane coating is available is various colours and embossed patterns usually following market trends.

The main issues with reconstituted leather are as follows;

As polyurethane fabrics act like a semi-permeable membrane, hydrolysis takes place over time with body oils and perspiration causing cracking then peeling of the polyurethane coating.

  • Contrary to most sales explanations reconstituted leather unlike real leather does not breathe and is no different to sitting on a vinyl.
  • Reconstituted leather does not develop the patina effect over time like real leather.
  • Reconstituted leather will have a comparatively short life span.

Our clients decided to have their dining chairs re-upholstered in a high quality semi-aniline leather from Tasman being Matisse Black. They were exceptionally happy with the finish and no doubt will enjoy them into the future.