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Does Genuine Leather Peel Off? Why is my Sofa Peeling?

By Jeff Frank

No and yes. The term “genuine leather” has more than one meaning.

For furniture, the answer is “No!”  “Genuine leather” upholstered furniture is made with “real” leather processed from animal hides. Real leather made from hides does not peel.

For accessory items (belts, wallets, purses, etc.) the answer is “Yes!” Accessory manufacturers and retailers generally use the terminology “genuine leather”  to describe the same type of material called “bonded leather” by the furniture industry. “Real leather” is termed “all leather” or “top grain leather” or “full grain leather” by accessory companies.

Bonded leather is a horrendous material that has generated thousands of complaints over the past decade. It is especially popular on reclining furniture. Unfortunately, recliners put extra strain on this “delicate” material. The movement of the seats and backs results in “rubbing” against the fabric. This rubbing can result in separating the thin facing material from the backing of the bonded leather.

Bonded leather furniture can begin peeling less than one year after purchase. More commonly the peeling process begins within 2 – 5 years. Once the peeling process begins, the furniture is ruined. It cannot be repaired.

Bonded leather peels on $10 “genuine leather” belts and it peels on $4000 reclining sectionals. In both cases the product is ruined. It cannot be repaired once it begins peeling.


The term “genuine leather” is also sometimes used by furniture salespeople to describe “Leather Match.” This is furniture that combines “real leather” made from hides on the seats and inside backs with synthetic leathers on the outside arms, backs and base. The synthetic leathers may be vinyl, polyurethane or bonded leather. Polyurethanes and vinyls do not peel. Only the bonded leathers peel.

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2 thoughts on “Does Genuine Leather Peel Off? Why is my Sofa Peeling?”

  1. I bought a recliner loveseat& sofa in 2019 from Raymour&flanigan now a small section is peeling? Bought a 5 yr service contract now they’re said it is not covered? What Should I do Would love your feedback , Damascus Sookbirsingh .

    • Sorry, it sounds as though you are caught in the “bonded leather” trap. Over the past 10 years, bonded leather has been the most popular fabric for low and mid-priced reclining furniture. There have been thousands and thousands of complaints (and dozens of lawsuits) over peeling or flaking bonded leather. Usually, the problem begins after 2 – 3 years usage, but there are many examples of peeling and flaking within the first year. There is no way to repair damaged bonded leather.
      The response of furniture manufacturers, retailers and extended warranty providers, has been to add specific clauses into their warranties excluding coverage of any bonded leather related problems. Many retailers will “repair” or replace damaged bonded leather if the problem occurs within the first year, but almost none will do anything after that time period.


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