Buying a leather lounge suite is an exciting time but not without trepidation – “I am spending a lot of money and I must choose the right design and colour to last a very long time”; but it can also be a daunting experience, especially with the different “types” of leather available.

Don’t be fooled when a piece of lounge furniture displays “The Leather Mark”, a symbol that most people automatically associate with genuine (real) leather, as this unfortunately is being used to mislead consumers.  

The most popular names you will see are “Bonded Leather”, “Leather Combination”, “Genuine Leather Uppers” and “Genuine Leather”. 

“Leather Combination” refers to the use of a combination of leather and imitation leather-look upholstery covers used on both non-contact and contact areas.  “Genuine Leather Uppers” refers to the use of genuine (real) leather on the contact areas and imitation leather-look upholstery covers on the non-contact areas.  “Contact” areas refer to the parts of the chair that you will touch when seated and the “non-contact” areas are the parts of the chair that you would not be in contact with, i.e., the sides and back of the chair.


The greatest discrepancy arises when comparing “Bonded” leather with “Genuine” (real) leather.

“Bonded” leather is sometimes called “vinyl” and does not come from the whole animal skin.  Put simply, Bonded leather is a polyurethane fabric with leather shavings glued onto the back of the fabric.  These leather shavings do not constitute Genuine leather and do not have the benefits associated with Genuine leather, i.e., it will crack and deteriorate over time.

“Genuine” leather is made from the complete animal hide and is more expensive to purchase than that made from bonded material.  The natural strength of leather comes from the skin or top layer of the animal hide, this is referred to as “top grain” or “full grain” leather.  A great feature of this leather is that instead of wearing out and peeling, it creates a film that gives extra strength and shine.  So instead of wearing out over time, it gets better looking and has a long life span.

Once the lounge furniture has been made, it is unfortunately difficult to tell the difference between Bonded and Genuine leather – the appearance and smell are almost identical.  The appearance differs in a unique way.  Whereas other leather types have the hide imperfections removed, through buffing or sanding, to make the leather look “perfect”; a distinctive mark of genuine or real leather is the leather’s natural beauty.  These “imperfections” in the leather, i.e., branding marks, scars, wrinkles, bites, etc. give the leather a unique look and are a true sign that it is in fact real full grain leather.  Remember, full grain leather is not a man-made product and so shade and tone variations will occur.


All La-Z-Boy® recliners, incliners and lounge suites are manufactured using a variety of upholstery options including Genuine Leather Uppers and Genuine Leather, be sure to check the upholstery options available when selecting your La-Z-Boy® furniture.