Perforated Leather vs Regular Leather Steering Wheel: Guide!

Perforated leather vs regular leather steering wheels

If you’re out to get a new car or replace the material on your steering wheel and have to choose between perforated leather or regular leather steering wheel, I wrote this article just for you. I will be doing some comparison between the two that will ultimately help you make an informed decision.

The main difference between regular leather and the perforated leather steering wheels is that perforated leather will have holes while the regular will be smooth. They are also different in terms of how they feel, its thickness, function, cost, and how they are maintained.

Keep reading this article to find out more about the differences between the perforated and the regular leather car steering wheels.

Regular Leather Steering Wheel

High-end cars from time immemorial have always had their steering wheels covered with real leather from animal hides. This has always been a way to improve the user experience and quality of material while maintaining a touch of class and luxury.

For medium and low-end vehicles, manufacturers will often use split leather which is actually a low-quality version when compared to the standard grain leather. But because the leather actually used for steering wheels doesn’t need to be flexible this is often unnoticed by most people.

With the exception of those who are able to religiously wear gloves whenever they drive their cars with a leather steering wheel, steering wheels are constantly in direct contact with our hands. 

So 9 out of 10, you will find that most steering wheels are treated or made of pigmented leather. Most manufacturers apply Teflon coating over the surface of the leather because Teflon is resistant to any sort of hand perspiration.

These sorts of surface treatments given to leather steering wheels make them look and feel smooth, or have a plastic-feeling. 

Perforated Leather Steering Wheel

The perforated leather is a material that has gained a lot of popularity for use on car steering wheels. Perforated leather as the name implies means the leather material has holes on it: either on the entire leather surface or certain potions of the leather. Ideally, perforated leather will have holes all over its surface.

These holes are sometimes arranged either in a carefully spaced out a pattern or simply randomized. You will also find a combination of leather perforations with embossing just to sink or elevate the holes quite a bit to give the leather steering wheel a visual and tactile look and feel. 

In short, perforated leather steering wheels are nice, aesthetically appealing and very functional. 

Perforated Leather vs Regular Leather Steering Wheel — Details

The difference between perforated leather steering wheel and regular steering wheel are quite a few with some being more obvious than others. Just to be thorough and not overly presumptuous, I will explain the differences between the regular leather steering wheel and the perforated leather steering wheel at the beginner level.

The Look

This is probably the most obvious difference between the two. By simply looking at the perforated leather steering wheel and your regular steering wheel, you can obviously tell the difference. Perforated leather steering wheels will always have holes on them otherwise it will not have the first name perforated!

However, it’s understandable how this can be confused with other types of leather because while some perforations may be bigger and a lot visible, others will either be super tiny holes or bundled up in embossing, design patterns, and really dark colors.

So always look closely. If it’s called perforated, then there’s definitely holes on there somewhere even if it’s not too clear to see.

Leather Thickness

The thickness of a perforated leather steering wheel and a regular steering wheel is almost all the time different. While this may not be the case for every single one of perforated leather and regular steering wheels, you will often find that the perforated leather used to cover steering wheels are much thicker than that of the regular leather. 

The common sense behind this is usually to ensure the perforated leather retains some level of its natural tensile strength when it’s stretched over the car steering wheel. 

So what’s removed in the form of the perforations it then made up for in thickness of the leather.

Also, most manufactures oftentimes do not want to create a bunch of boring holes on the leather. They would want to make it extremely appealing and luxurious. So generally, the leather has to be quite thick to be able to get some designs created and well suited for the steering wheel.

The Feel

Another noticeable difference between the regular leather steering wheel and the perforated leather steering wheel is the actual feel of them both. Due to the holes and the thickness of perforated leather, its no surprise regular leather steering wheels will feel different from the perforated one.

Generally, perforated leather will have an obvious textured feel while regular leather steering wheels will have a smooth feel. I’m not in anyway saying you will never find regular leather steering wheels with no textures on it!

But by simply taking a regular leather steering wheel and your average perforated steering wheel, the perforated leather steering wheel will definitely have a solid grip to it than a regular leather steering wheel. 


One of the biggest differences between these two types of leather steering wheel coverings is how comfortable they are. This is indeed a matter of personal preference but the general consensus is in favor of perforated leather steering wheels for a couple of reasons.

Perforated leather steering wheels are more comfortable because the holes they come with allow for better airflow so your sweaty hands do not get uncomfortably clammy over the steering wheel.

Perforated leather steering wheels are also generally more comfortable when it comes to the steering wheel grip action you get than your regular leather steering wheels.   


The purpose of a car steering wheel is to simply help you manoeuvre your car to your destination easily and safely. 

Due to the ever changing consumer tastes, cars today do not only take use from one point to another. What most cars offer today is actually an experience more than just a simple commute. 

Because of this the practicality of your regular leather steering wheels versus the perforated leather steering wheels versus the numerous other materials used for car steering wheel are totally different. 

Cars today come with heat sensors, heating and cooling elements on the steering wheel that allows the car to be climatically responsive. Perforated leather steering wheels often does a great job of allowing for some of these electric installations to function quite better than the regular leather steering wheel.

This is not to say heating and cooling systems will not work well on regular leather steering wheels. 

In fact, oftentimes you will find little perforations on the regular leather steering wheels on certain portions of the leather steering wheel so the heaters and or coolers have an exit point.


While most car steering wheels will be fitted with coverings such as synthetic materials, the high-end cars will either come with a real leather steering wheel or will offer a leather steering wheel upgrade with options such as regular, perforated leather steering wheels, Alcantara, etc. 

Although the perforated leather steering wheel, Alcantara, etc materials are a lot more sensitive than the more common materials like smooth or regular leather and plastics, they often come with a hefty price tag or upgrade package. 


Generally, all leather items need a bit of tender loving care to keep it fresh, protected and functional. The way you care for leather items is to simply keep them cleaned and well conditioned.

While this can be a pretty simple routine for regular leather steering wheels, this cannot be said for perforated leather steering wheels.

Regular leather steering wheels are smooth so are very easy to clean. For perforated leather steering wheels, what’s supposed to take only a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon over a chilled bottle of beer can run into an hour or two.

This is because the holes on the perforated leather steering wheel houses or traps dirt, debris, grime, etc that comes into contact with the leather and if you truly want to give your leather items a really good and thorough cleaning, you would have to literally clean almost every single hole on the perforated leather steering wheel. 


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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