Automobile Vinyl vs Leather

The material used on vehicles are usually taken for granted until they become uncomfortable to the touch, then we start thinking of our preferred materials,  Which one would you choose? Vinyl or Leather?

In order to make a wise decision, we need to consider maintanance, durability, breathability, and cost, among all of these mentioned, our lifestyle is what will impact our decision the most.   

Vinyl comes in multiple colors and patterns, which is perfect for car enthusiasts or anyone interested in hooking up their seats.  Vinyl comes in many different grains, gloss, and thickness that may even resemble a real leather hide. It is made primarily of PVC, polyvinyl chloride plastic and made with stain and heat resistant properties.

Leather on the other hand, gives seats a more industrial look and feel.  Unlike vinyl, leather is made from cowhide and bull hide.  In comparison to these two, bull hide is thicker than cowhide and may be primarily chosen depending on the project at hand.


If you constantly travel with your children or pets, vinyl may be the best option for you.  Vinyl is very easy to mantain. You may need to occasionally wash it using cleaning solutions of your choice,  wipe off the solution with a damp cloth, and towel dry them.  Its important to dry the vinyl completely to prevent mildew and unwanted smells. 

Leather seats are a little bit more high maintenance than vinyl because as opposed to vinyl, leather does not intentionally include stain or sun resistant properties, which means that it may crack overtime, especially if left under high heat on a constant basis. You can prevent these by applying a leather conditioner. 

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Both vinyl and leather car seats last for a very long time but they both will wear and tear overtime.

Vinyl seats are less resistant than leather.  They may tear or easily be punctured with a pair of scissors, for example, and it takes a lot of money to repair them. 

Leather car seats are more resistant to cuts, but they may still be damaged. 

They both discolor overtime.

Breathability is an important factor that we need to consider when it comes to choosing upholstering your vehicle. Vinyl is less breathable than leather because it is made out of plastic. This means that there is a bigger chance for you to get sticky and sweat more on a vinyl seat than on a leather seat.

If you have heaters in your seats, that’s another scenario, you MUST use a punctured material to allow the heat to work as it should.  If your upholsterer uses punctured vinyl, remember that it will last less than punctured leather due to the comparison in breathability of these two. 

Vinyl seats are more affordable than leather seats. Leather seats are a pricey investment because it’s made of natural materials and are sold per hide.  The price ranges from $400 to $600 per hide.  Vinyl is sold per yard.  The average cost if about $32-$50 per yard.  The price difference of these two is excessive.  

At the end of the day, its all about personal preference. When choosing a material for your car upholstery, make sure to consider your lifestyle. These aspects will help you determine the right material for your ride.

Sources: All Vinyl Fabrics