How to restore the brown colour on a leather couch

Updated April 17, 2017

Brown leather couches, often bought because they add sophistication and beauty to a living room or other seating area, have a tendency to suffer wear and tear, resulting in cracks in the sofa and faded, lacklustre colour that may, over time, more closely resemble a tan or beige shade, instead of a rich brown colour. To restore the brown colour, you can either take the couch to a furniture repair shop, or try a do-it-yourself colour restoration project.

Prepare the couch

Prepare the couch to be restored. If you chose to do anything more comprehensive than simply purchasing a leather recolouring balm, the couch will need to be prepared for restoration. If leather is dirty, clean it with warm, soapy water or with a leather-cleaning solution.

Wipe down the back and the sides of the couch with diluted rubbing alcohol on a clean white cloth.

Wipe the rest of the couch with leather prep. Pour some leather prep on an abrasive pad if the sofa isn’t badly cracked. If there is substantial cracking, use a clean cloth instead, since an abrasive pad would only worsen the cracks on the couch. Rub until the colour from the couch begins to show on the cloth or the abrasive pad. This indicates that the finish has been removed.

Wipe or spray the couch with diluted rubbing alcohol or another alcohol cleaning solution. This will remove any silicones that the leather prep could not dissolve.

Wait half an hour for the leather prep to dry and evaporate.

Restore the leather

Apply a light filler, which will hold the leather together in order to prevent future cracking, with a sponge to repair thin cracks. Apply only a thin coat, and allow it to dry.

Sand the leather with fine sandpaper to remove any excess filler.

Repair bigger or deeper cracks with a leather repair compound. Smooth the compound over the seating cushions of the couch using a palette knife, and allow it to dry for at least half an hour.

Sand the areas where repair compound has been used with fine sandpaper.

Use another coat of light filler if necessary.

Apply the leather colourant

Shake a bottle of leather colourant for several minutes to ensure that it is mixed well.

Rub a thin coat of colourant into the sofa, using a sponge. This will provide a base for the brown colour spray in the next step. Press gently. Do not apply too much pressure.

Wait for the colourant to dry, then use a spray gun or an airbrush to apply the restorative colour to the couch. Practice on paper if you have never used a spray gun or an airbrush before. Allow the colour to dry between coats.

Use a sponge to gently apply thin layers of finish to the couch. Use two layers of glossy sealant and two layers of finish on the leather furniture.


Visit a furniture restoration company or website to find a kit that includes most of the materials necessary for repairing and restoring a leather couch.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm, soapy water
  • Diluted rubbing alcohol
  • White cloth
  • Leather prep
  • Abrasive pad
  • Sponges
  • Light filler
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Leather repair compound
  • Palette knife
  • Leather colourant
  • Paper
  • Spray gun or airbrush
  • Brown furniture colour
  • Glossy sealant
  • Finish
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About the Author

Rebecca Nelles holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Eastern Illinois University. Additionally, she has earned minors in both creative writing and women's studies. She has been published on and also in Eastern Illinois University's literary journal, "The Vehicle."