What is a pu insole

PU leather

PU leather

In the past, the term PU leather was used by some suppliers for materials that were not leather within the meaning of the declaration obligation for leather.

This included split leather coated with a polyurethane film (which must be declared as "foil-coated split leather" for furniture upholstery materials) and artificial leather. By using the term "leather" in the choice of name, the customer was led to believe that the material had a value that the material did not have. It wasn't grain leather, even if it had a smooth leather look on the surface. The abbreviation "PU" stood for the plastic polyurethane that made up the surface coating.

As furniture upholstery materials, these materials usually had a glossy surface and an antique look. Many of these materials were unstable and damage occurred after a short period of use.

Since "PU leather" has a completely different meaning in different countries, you should always ask exactly what it is about when referring to this material.

Films about the production of foil-coated split leather.

Foil-coated split leather was offered in furniture stores as "Bycast leather", "Bicast leather", "PU leather", "Polyurethane-coated leather" or incorrectly as leather with a "pull up look" or "pull up leather". Pull-up leather in the strict sense of the word means a type of fat leather. In none of the cases was the designated material actually leather in the sense of the labeling regulations.

Imitation leather with the same look was also sold. The synthetic leather also had a surface made of polyurethane.

The advantage of such materials is the price. Split leathers are inexpensive, but not as durable as grain leather in areas of stress. Damage often occurs after just a few years. Then there is the lack of breathability. Due to the strong coating, the leathers are “colder” than uncoated leathers and tend to stick to the skin. In countries like Denmark or New Zealand, the term "genuine leather" is completely forbidden for split leather.

If in doubt, ask whether your leather is a coated split leather. If price is all you want, you can buy it. But if you want a high quality, breathable natural product, coated split leather is out of the question.

Typical foil-coated split leather set - like grain leather at first glance.

The hair pores in the film are embossed in the film.


Split leather with glued foil.

The foil on the split leather is clearly visible.

Microscopic enlargement of the surface of a foil-coated split leather. The dark spots are caused by air pockets in the plastic coating.


Typical damage to foil-coated split leather in furniture

The foil-coated split leather is often damaged after just a few years. It is typical for the film to break open in the stress area when the split leather is too weak and stretches too much. The resolution of the film in the hair or skin contact area is also typical. The film becomes dull, sticky and sometimes also whitish there. The possibility of repair or "cleaning" is actually never available, and the furniture is then irreparably damaged.

Research into the causes of damage to a discarded couch: Removal of the film coating - cat scratches - dog claws.

Foil-coated split leather with problems of delamination

With some of these materials, the layer becomes partially or completely detached from the split leather. After 2 and 5 years.

Condition after 5 years.

Discoloration of leather and peeling of paint on leather.

Foil-coated split leather with problems of shifting the coating

With some film coatings, the coating shifts in the contact area with skin or hair.

Foil-coated split leather with problems of layer dissolution in the head area

With some foil-coated split leathers, the area with hair contact becomes dull, sticky or whitish.

Coated split leather that tears due to the insufficient stability of the split leather

Often the leathers break due to the lack of stability of the split leather.

One has to assume that the industry will accept the large amount of damage. This damage often occurs after 2-4 years, i.e. after the warranty. One can therefore only advise to do without this coated split leather and to have a confirmation in the sales contract when purchasing that it is not a "split leather" or "coated split leather", as it is usually not explicitly stated, contrary to the labeling requirement.

PU synthetic leather

The artificial leathers are visually identical to the coated PU split leather. Only experts can tell from the softer feel and the greater elasticity in heat that it is synthetic leather. PU synthetic leather is inexpensive and often appears in public waiting areas such as hotels or department stores.

Typical PU synthetic leather.

Use of the term "PU leather"

The use of the term PU leather is regulated by RAL 060 A2 (differentiation of the term leather from other materials). Accordingly, the use of this designation for materials that are not made from grown animal skin or fur is not permitted. False declarations are regularly warned by the Association of the German Leather Industry. In the English-speaking world there is the term "PU leather". Since English is spoken in many countries, there is no standard rule for the use of the term.

additional Information

Further leather damage

More information on damage