Can You Paint Leather Couch?

A leather couch adds a luxurious feel to any living room, at the same time however, it’s likely the culprit for making living rooms transition into a harpy eagle den i.e. when there’s a tear here and a crack there.

This is why you need to restore your beat up leather couches to make them feel alive again.

Read: How to clean a TV screen without streaks

Which brings us to the question, can you paint leather couches? To revive them? To restore them? Or to give them a new look that matches the setting in the space you want them to occupy?

Leather couches can be painted to hide cracks, peeling, fading or color inconsistencies that appear on their surfaces. The best type of paints to use on leather couches are those targeted for leather materials. Fix any tears on the surface of the couch and treat the leather to prepare it for painting, then apply thin coats of paint successively and allow drying time of 2 hours between each application. Finish up with a leather finisher to give the leather couch a professional look.

Learn more in detail about how to properly paint leather couches.

What you must do prior to painting your leather couch

You can’t just hop onto a leather couch and start painting it. There are some key things you must do to ensure that your venture turns out successful.

Clean couch with a damp cloth

The first step to preparing your couch for painting is to wipe it clean with a dampened cloth. This will get rid of dirt and dust sitting on top of it. If you have a particularly stubborn stain, you can use sandpaper to scrape it off.

Alternatively, if you have a cleaner specially designed for leather, like the Angelus Easy Cleaner, you can use that instead. Some people even use soapy water instead of plain water to achieve the cleaning mentioned above.

Remove oil and wax

Your leather most likely has oil or wax coating applied on it from the factory, and removing these is critical to achieving a satisfactory result when painting.

How you can remove oil and wax from leather couches is using a leather degreaser. Some people even use rubbing alcohol to achieve the same results.

Make sure to adhere to the instructions printed out on the product manual to ensure effective degreasing.

Use a leather conditioner

For a very dry and hard leather surface, you want to condition it so that your paint would sit on the surface and adhere to it without any problems.

Leather conditioners soften the texture of the leather surface to make it a suitable adhesive surface for your paint.

Using leather conditioner isn’t a must, only use it when the surface of your leather is very tough or rough to the feel.

Use a leather deglazer or deglosser

Leather deglazers or deglossers are manufactured with the sole purpose of stripping leather off their factory finishes.

That way, new coatings you apply will easily adhere to the leather. By using a leather cleaner, you’ll have a much quality finish that doesn’t peel, crack or lift off.

Make sure to use leather deglazer or deglosser only after cleaning the leather. Everything you do is even more effective afterwards.

The deglazer I normally use for my leather articles like shoes and purses is “Angelus Preparer & Deglazer”.

The instructions are simple:

Using rubber hand gloves, apply the solution to an area of a clean cloth or cotton balls. Do not wet, just dampen, then scrub the cloth or cotton ball over the entire area of leather you want to paint (obviously using many rounds of cotton balls).

Let the solution dry off from the surface of the leather and if there is any excess residue, make sure to wipe off.

What kind of paint should I use for my leather couch?

After dealing with all the preliminaries of leather cleaning, the next thing on your mind should be painting.

And it is important to know the specific type of paint to use otherwise you’ll end up ruining the couch’s exterior or aesthetics.

Typically, the best type of paint to use on leather products are acrylic paints specifically meant for leather, for example the Angelus Acrylic Leather brand. They’re the best for a reason.

Acrylic paints for leather are specially formulated to pair with your leather items and articles very well. They’ll adhere smoothly to the surface without peeling, lifting, cracking or fading away over a short period of time.

Acrylic paints meant for leather are also very durable and you can easily get them in various shades of colors or even purchase multiple colors and mix them together to form a custom color that suits you.

They are also water based which means they’re not harmful to us or the environment. Being water based also means that they will dry easily when applied to surfaces.

That aside, other options you have include other types of acrylic paints like those meant for canvas or wood, or you can use leather dyes to realise a permanent finish on your leather couches.

When using acrylic paints other than those meant for leather, do not expect a polished look, and do not expect everything to go smoothly. The paint may not stick well to the surface or not be as durable as leather based acrylic.

How to paint a leather couch

So now, hopefully, you have your choice of leather paint, and in what form you want it: whether spray or brush type form, and you’re all set to begin your decoration journey.

The next thing on the agenda is to begin preparation.

First, before anything else, is to carefully inspect your couch for any cracks and tears and make sure to fix them right away. Then make sure the place you’re working in is fully ventilated!

Then condition as directed by the leather conditioner product you’re using, then clean afterwards and degrease. Thereafter, deglaze and degloss and your leather skin should be ready to welcome new ideas on it.

To paint leather couches, first, prepare yourself. Put on an apron and wear gloves to prevent splashes that would be very hard to get rid off when they set.

After that, you want to prepare the couch too. Is there any place you don’t wish to have paint on? Tape it off using a carpenter’s tape.

Next up is choosing the right brush for your project. Take a look at your couch and decide whether a foam, brush, or sponge works best. Rub them against the leather to have an idea.

After that, you’re all set to apply your first layer of coating and subsequent ones.

Thin the paint using a paint thinner or using equal parts of water (as the paint). We’re making the paint thinner than initail so it catches onto the leather and seeps into it.

This way, we have a first layer firmly adhered to the leather, and the rest of the layers can be painted over this layer to build the design to the right opacity.

After the first layer, revert back to the product instruction manual on how to properly apply the paint onto the couch or leather surface for best result.

If that sounds like extra work for you, do this, apply thin paint in long strips that are perpendicular to each other. Meaning, pick a point and apply one straight srip vertically, then apply a horizontal one such that some parts overlap or cross over it. Then continue in the same manner until you have painted the entire region you wish to paint.

Reapply coats as many times as you wish, but always allow the earlier set of coatings to dry for at least two hours first before applying the subsequent ones to ensure no cracking occurs.

Tip: The easiest way to get even layers on your couch when painting them is to use acrylic spray paint. I’ll recommend you go for it when money isn’t a problem.

Sealing the leather paint

When your done applying as much layers as you like on your leather (because there’s literally no limit to it), your work is almost done. What you need to complete it is a leather finisher, preferably from the same brand you brought the paint.

What a finisher does is to give the painting a professional look, and also ensure that your paint sits on the couch for a very long time without cracking or fading.

When it comes to finishers, you have a whole lot of variety to choose from, high gloss, matt, satin and even standard gloss. So feel free to choose what suits your project best.

Before applying a finisher, make sure to clean the surface of your newly painted leather to ensure it doesn’t have any dust or dirt that would be sealed into the design.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to apply the finisher to your painted leather.

If you wish to adopt an extra layer of protection, you can add an additional layer called waterproof layer. You can find that with brand stores that sell leather paints and finishers.

As with the finishers, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the coating. And if you’re using a different brand of waterproofing than the one you used for the paint and finisher, confirm that the contents are compatible first before applying to the finish to avoid ruining it.

And that’s it, your leather is all shiny and glorious in it’s new skin!

Final Thoughts

Leather couches can be more than painted. When their current painting begins to wear off or fade, or the couch is beginning to look like a scary shadow of its original self, painting is the next best bet.

To paint a leather couch, first inspect it to ensure no cracks and tears are present, and if so, fix them using appropriate techniques, then cleanse and clean the couch to rid it of dirt and dust.

Next, apply a paint specifically formulated for leather and finish it off using a leather finisher or sealer. Afterwards, apply a waterproofing coat and your couch should be as good as new.

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