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Why Is The Finish Coming Off Of My Leather Furniture?

Finish Coming Off Leather Blog

There can be many reasons the color is fading or the finish is lifting on your leather furniture.  Let us discuss a few! Even though leather furniture is the strongest and best material for upholstering sofas and chairs it can still be harmed when not taken care of properly.

Sunlight can cause leather to lighten and fade.  This can be caused from direct or indirect sunlight.  I have seen a leather sectional that faded over time from a skylight.  Only the portion of the sectional where the light hit the seat cushion and back faded.  It was in a second home in the mountains of North Carolina.  You can only imagine the look on the owners faces when they came into the cabin after six months away and saw this kind of fading when no one was even there.


Different Types Of Leather For Furniture

Leather Furniture Blog

Pure aniline leathers will fade faster than aniline plus or finished leathers.  However, all will fade if exposed to direct UV rays for a long period of time.  UV protected windows will help along with other window coverings like blinds or shutters. 

I have also seen leather furniture fade from indirect sun exposure.  For instance, reflective sunlight from a wood floor can cause damage to a leather sofa.  So just remember the UV rays do not need to be direct to cause harm.  Especially at higher elevations.

Body Oils can also harm leather furniture.  If this is occurring your leather will darken and then cause hairline cracks.  Once a leather hide is saturated on the surface the oil will penetrate through to the suede.  Once that happens hairline cracks will start to appear on the surface of the hides.  This can occur anywhere on your leather furniture that is exposed to oil on the daily.  This is most commonly found on arms and headrests.  There is no way to stop this once this starts.  Replacing the leather on the affected areas is your only option.

Dirt and dust can also have a negative effect on your new leather sofa or chair.  As you begin to use your new leather furniture, the seats will start to wear in like a well-made pair of leather shoes. You will begin to see comfort wrinkles throughout your seat cushions.  You need to wipe them out and vacuum the dirt and sand occasionally.  Otherwise the sand and dirt can get caught in the creases and act as sandpaper as you get up and down. This can cause the leather surface to break and cause hairline cracks.  This is easily avoidable with a little attention. When you dust your other furniture, dust your leather furniture.

How PH Levels and Outside Catalysts Can Affect Your Leather Furniture

Due to the OSHA laws in the United States, leather tanning is no longer done here.  Therefore, a different chemical makeup is used and in rare cases causes random peeling of the outer topcoat in areas where an outside catalyst reacts.

There is no way to tell when this will occur or where.  The most common areas are where your head rests on the back pillow of your chair or on the arm where you rest your arms and palm of your hands.

If this occurs within the first year after your purchase many manufacturers will help with replacing the leather where the reaction has occurred. Just keep in mind if this happens once, you can expect it to happen again.  So be sure to add a barrier between you and the leather so this does not occur.

It is a mystery and one that is unpredictable and annoying.  The odds are on your side that this will not happen.  Nevertheless, if you are someone that has this rare reaction or some other sort of outside catalyst causes this problem, replacement is the only option.

How Medications Affect Your Leather Furniture

Medications Ruining Leather

Although rare the most common drug that causes a reaction with leather is the statin drugs followed by chemo medications and some heart pills.  These are the ones we have seen through the years that cause the most harm, although there may be others.

This is caused when the medication is expelled from the body’s pores mostly from the arms and head. These are the parts of our bodies that have the most direct contact with our furniture. This can be avoided by adding a headrest cover and arm covers to your chair or couch.  Once a reaction has happened the only fix is to replace the leather.  Although rare I have seen this numerous times during my career.

Cleaning & Conditioning Your New Leather Sofa

There is an excellent leather cleaner and conditioner offered by Wellington's that is endorsed by all of the major tanneries.  The cleaner should be used for spills and we recommend conditioning your leather furniture as you feel it is needed.  Maybe one time per year depending on the climate you live in.

The medication you take can also play a major role in fading your new leather recliner.  Yes, believe it or not some medications can have an adverse effect on leather.  Some of the chemicals used during the tanning process can have a harmful reaction with some meds.

Unlike decades ago when leather was always finished with a Teflon type topcoat, today customers want soft and supple more natural leathers.  To achieve this the chemical compounds had to be adjusted during the tanning process.  Todays leathers are not what they once were.  Some find it better while others prefer the old way and feel it was a more durable product.

Always stay away from store bought cleaners or wipes.  Do not use furniture wax or other cleaners on your leather.  Many ingredients like alcohol are a main ingredient.  This will dry out your leather furniture and can cause fading.

I hope this has provided some insight for you on what can happen and how to avoid harming your new leather furniture.

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