newA well-designed leather sofa is a beautiful thing – beautiful to look at, beautiful to sit on, beautiful to own. There really is a special quality to the texture and naturalness of genuine leather. It’s no surprise that it needs to be looked after more carefully than standard sofa coverings. The surface of this organic material is, by nature, more vulnerable to damage than many other types of upholstery covering. Additional problems for leather arise from the environment in our homes, such as the dry atmosphere produced by winter heating. On a month to month basis, simple routine cleaning/conditioning will help stave off the effects of wear, low humidity, etc. Eventually, though, this kind of furniture will show the signs of use, look tired, and pick up some battle scars. That’s the time to investigate leather upholstery repair.

This is a topic that generates a lot of internet material – or to put it another way, you’ll turn up plenty if you just type “leather” in the search box! Here’s a useful list of the types of issues that leather sofa repair experts discuss.

Fading. Colored leather, whether dyed or painted, fades with time, particularly if it’s exposed to direct daylight for long periods. Recoloring requires identifying the leather type – whether Aniline, Surface Protected/Pigmented, or Nubuck, to name the most common — and careful surface prep.

Scuffing due to everyday wear. This kind of erosion is treated with leather products formulated to bring the pigment back to the surface, or with fillers and dyes, depending on the leather type.

Nicks and cuts. Small cuts can be mended with leather adhesive or leather filler, followed in some cases by colorant. Making the mend invisible calls for different techniques for different leathers.

Burns and tears. Here preparation by scraping and cutting frayed areas is necessary, and patching if the damaged area is large enough. This is followed by leather fill in several coats to level the surface, and dying to match the surround.

As you can see from this list, there are various specialty products, plus some kinds of additional equipment like buffers, trimmers, etc, that are needed to fix leather. Many sources, both on the internet and books, describe the various procedures, but a common thread among them is the importance of understanding the different types of leather, being careful to select appropriate products, and the pitfalls of carelessness or impatience.

Leather repair done right can indeed solve the above problems with results that look as good as new. But the techniques are not always simple. If you’re an aspiring or even an experienced Do-It-Yourself-er who’s interested in learning about aspects of this craft, it’s a good idea to get your feet wet with a small project. Articles or videos that confidently offer to teach “How to Repair a Leather Couch” are likely to tempt you to bite off more than you can chew. For such a large, important, and costly item, getting help from a trained pro makes good sense.