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Why is the Leather on my Costco Amax Sofa Wrinkling?

By Jeff Frank


About one year ago, I purchased a beautiful Amax leather sectional sofa at Costco that is now showing “puddling” on the cushions in the favorite spots where I sit daily (I weigh less than 140 lbs., and the sofa has had little use otherwise.)

The specs state that “2.25 lbs. density high-resiliency foam encases pocket coil seat springs.” It further states that each cushion is double-wrapped with hollow-fill fiber and down feathers for additional comfort and support.

The cushions do feel heavy and solid, but I am disappointed that they show these depressions. The leather looks wrinkled/stretched now in these areas. The manufacturer states these are premium seat cushions and only the best materials were used.

Am I expecting too much? Or is this just what happens with cheap leather furniture?


Amax is actually pretty good quality, and an excellent value at the price you paid.

Although Amax is a Chinese manufacturer, the quality level is substantially higher than most generic Chinese upholstered furniture.

My definition of “generic upholstered furniture” refers to products with minimal or no information about how the product is constructed.

Amax provides very detailed information about how their furniture is made.

The problem you are describing is called “puddling.” It is extremely common with leather furniture at all price levels.

Puddling is not a defect of your sofa, and it is not covered by your manufacturer’s warranty.

But you purchased your sofa at Costco, the only furniture retailer that still has a “no questions asked” return policy.

If the puddling really bothers you, Costco will take it back and give you a refund.

Costco’s profit markup is far lower than the percentage used by retail furniture stores. The price you paid is an excellent value.

Puddling is caused by the natural expansion of the leather.

One way to minimize this problem is to move around and not constantly sit in the same part of the sofa.

Many websites and retail salespeople suggest that the cushions be ” fluffed up” periodically.

The problem with this advice is that it sounds like a gentle procedure that is easy to do.

Upholstery professionals, who are trying to remove wrinkles in leather cushions, bang them against a hard flat surface with as much force as they can.

Even after watching a professional “fluff” a cushion this way, most non-professionals are afraid to use that much strength and bang the cushions that hard. 

It can be difficult for shoppers to distinguish between leather sofas that will last 10+ years and those that will need replacement within 5 years or less.

Price is not a good indicator. There are leather sofas selling for less than $2000 that will far outlast leather sofas selling for more than $3000.

One simple sign of a poorly made sofa is that few or no construction details are given. 

In the case of leather sofas, there may be lots of details about the leather quality, but little or nothing about frames, foundations, and cushions.

But specific sounding construction details can also indicate substandard quality.

A large, well-known brand, whose leather sectionals sell at prices over $6000, describes its cushions as being made with “high density” and “high resiliency” foam.

That may sound like high quality to many shoppers. To me, it indicates 1.8 density foam cushions that will lose their shape, resiliency and comfort within 3 – 5 years for many people. 

A 250 lb. individual will probably wear out those high density, high resiliency cushions within 1 – 2 years.

The 2.25 density foam/coil spring cushions in your Amax sofa should last 6 – 10+ years, even for people weighing 250 lbs..

The same brand describes its $6000 sectional frame construction in great detail:

“We are committed to producing high-quality, durable furniture and employ stringent testing requirements for all our frame designs. We use an engineered frame, which is a combination of solid woods and oriented strand board (OSB)—a material that resists warping and has been proven to be stronger than plywood. All critical structural joints have an interlocking design, ensuring that the assembly is always 100 percent square and the joints are tight. Each joint is fastened and glued for extra strength and durability. All spring rails are constructed from hardwood, while non-load bearing rails are constructed from softwood. Our frames are engineered for durability and are cycle tested according to the General Services Administration FNAE 80-214 Upholstered Furniture Test Method.”

That description sounds great to millions of furniture shoppers. To me, that frame description is something I would expect to find in a $600 sofa.

The solid hardwood and plywood frame in your Amax sofa could last more than twice as long.

Amax reduces the cost of its Costco leather sofas by using good quality top grain leather only for the seats, inside backs, and inside arms.

The rest of the sofa (outside back, outside arms, and base are made using “split leather.”)

Split leather is the bottom grain, what is left over after the top grain layer has been separated from the full grain hide.

The cheaper bottom grain is less durable and more easily stained than the top grain layer.

Leather match sofas substitute vinyl or polyurethane for the split grain leather. The cost is similar.

The advantage of leather match over split grain is that synthetic faux leathers are more durable and easier to clean than split leathers.

The advantage of split grain leathers over synthetic faux leathers is that it allows the retailer to truthfully claim it is selling an “All-leather” sofa.

The cost of top grain leathers used for mass produced sofas is generally about 6 – 8 times more than split leathers or faux leathers.

That works out to a $200 – $300 difference in retail prices between leather match or leather/split and the same sofa made with all top grain leather.

In sofas with foam cushions that wear out in less than 5 years, that extra cost is mostly wasted.

The extra cost of “all-leather” makes more sense when combined with a sturdy frame and durable cushions that are going to last 10 years or more.

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