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Is it Possible to Change the Color of a Leather Couch?

By Jeff Frank


Is it possible to change the color of a leather sofa? I bought a 3 piece leather suite from DFS 2 ½ years ago. It was all the same color when new.  Now, it has started to peel and the color appears different than on other parts of the sofa . What is the problem?

April 8, 2021


DFS is a European retailer that generally sells “leather match” furniture. This is a combination of cheap (but genuine) top grain leather on the areas where you sit, sewn to a matching vinyl fabric on the outside arms, back and base.

In order to get the leather to match the vinyl, they start off with the cheapest grade of hide. This is sanded down to remove all traces of the original grain pattern.

An artificial grain is embossed into the sanded hide and a dye is sprayed on top to match the vinyl. A clear polyurethane coating is then added to protect the hide’s artificial finish.

What has happened is that the clear polyurethane protective coating has been worn away. Once it is gone, there is very little to stop the dye and artificial embossing from also wearing away.

At that point you are down to the bare sanded leather hide, which will be an entirely different color.

Fixing this requires an expert leather restorer. Even then, it may not be possible to restore the furniture back to its original condition.

The dye color can be matched, but if you have worn through the artificial embossed grain, that is very difficult to replicate so that there is not a noticeable blemish.

Leather match furniture can encounter other problems over time. The leather and vinyl age differently. There may be a noticeable color difference eventually.

Also, the leather and vinyl expand and contract differently. This can result in seam slippage where the leather and vinyl are sewn together.

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