Choosing Leather FurnitureBi-cast leather description from Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture that is easier to clean and maintain.

The use of the term ‘leather’ in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather ; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age". With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing. 

Modern technology permits up to 3 or 4 horizontal layers being taken from the one hide. The leather used in the backing of bicast is a thin, otherwise worthless, layer remaining after better quality layers have been removed for traditional leather work and contributes nothing to the look and feel of the end product.

Furniture manufacturers say that the chief benefit of bycast leather is its price. Lower grades of leather can be utilized during the manufacturing process and treating with polyurethane gives a uniform shine and a long-lasting "like new" appearance. Bycast leather looks best, they say, on furniture with taut seat cushions and pillows. It can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth. New bycast leather furniture can have a slight chemical smell, but this typically dissipates about a week after the piece is exposed to air. 

Here is a section of bi-cast leather: