Leather Sofa Cracking And Fading: Fixing And Prevention


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Leather couches are a popular choice for the home, but they can be expensive and not everyone is sure how to take care of them.

Whether from sun damage or just every day wear and tear, without proper care, leather furniture can fade and crack.

In this piece we examine some of the reasons why leather furniture could crack or fade and how we might be able to protect our investment.

Why Do Leather Sofas Crack?

Leather sofas are a great addition to any home, but over time they can start to crack. This is an issue that many people have with leather furniture in general; however, it's not something that will just happen overnight.

In fact, there are a few reasons as to why your leather sofa may be cracking right now and you might not even know about it.

Leather sofas tend to crack due to sunlight exposure or heat sources like fireplaces or radiators. The cracks typically form where the sun hits the couch directly during certain times of day.  

The reason for this is that the leather has been damaged by UV rays, causing it to dry out and become brittle over time. This will lead the sofa's coverings to shrink, which can cause small cracks in the surface of your furniture. 

Cracks can also be caused from usage and this generally is more a factor of a  low quality leather sofa as opposed to just heavy usage. Still, leather is not indestructible, thus over time (and usually a very long period of time), even high quality leather furniture will start to crack. 

In addition, various chemical cleaning products that use an alcohol base can also dry out your leather furniture, so always avoid those when possible. 

Why Do Leather Sofas Fade?

Leather sofas are a luxurious touch to any home. They're durable and long-lasting, but not when it comes to fading from sunlight exposure. A faded leather sofa is just a homeowners worst nightmare. 


As noted above with cracking of leather, the same issues will arise if your leather furniture is exposed to direct UV rays.

Natural or vegetable tanned leather is processed with tree bark and other organic materials in order to preserve the natural qualities of the material. The reason this type of leather fades is because the tanning process reduces some of the skin's natural protective oils. 

If left unprotected, this type of skin absorbs UV rays which causes it to slowly deteriorate over time. Note that the amount of fading is dependent on the type of leather and the amount of protectant added after the fact.  

Typically aniline and semi-aniline leathers are more prone to fading, just due to the fact that there has been less done to protect the surface of the leather; whereas those used with a protectant surface layer are less prone to fading. 

What Can You Do If Your Leather Furniture Is Cracked?

Depending on the amount of damage to the leather sofa, there are various options. If you have heavy tears and cracks, it could ultimately be repaired by re-upholstering and replacing the problem areas with new leather. This video provides a good how-to in making some of these more sizeable repairs. It does seem like a lot of work however, so if it's really bad, it could make sense to start shopping for a new leather sofa

What Can You Do If Your Leather Furniture Is Faded?

Do you have leather furniture that's faded and needs a little TLC? You're not alone.

Here are some tips to help you get your new favorite chair back to looking like it did the day you bought it.
1) Clean with warm water and dish soap - this will remove any dust, dirt or stains from the surface of your leather.
2) Apply a protective coating – be sure to follow instructions very carefully as they may vary depending on what type of leather product you have (the process for each is slightly different).

I've heard some pretty good things about this dye - not a product pitch at all- so if anyone has used it and it hasn't worked well, please let me know!

How To Prevent Cracking Or Fading In The Future

Prevent future damage by using coasters under glasses, placing wet items in an area away from your furniture and making sure that any moisture is kept away from the leather furniture.

Even more importantly, keep your leather furniture out of direct sunlight! Some exposure is fine, you just don't want to put your leather sofa in front of a window that gets heavy UV rays.  

We've also assembled a top ten lists of recommended cleaners and conditioners for your leather sofa. Before using any of these products however, I highly recommend checking the owner's manual for your leather furniture to see what products they recommend for cleaning and conditioning. 

About the author Tom

When I started shopping for a leather couch two years ago, I was confused and overwhelmed by the information available to me. I decided to launch Best Leather Couches in order to create the best resource for shoppers looking for a new leather couch. I hope you enjoy the site. Feel free to drop me a line anytime at tom@best@leathercouches.com

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