How to remove paint from leather.?

by Gail

I have painted a few leather pieces of furniture. Two came out great, but one, a love seat, was peeling and tacky right from the get-go. The odd thing is I painted another piece with the same paint and process which came out fine. Is there anything that I can do to rescue this loveseat? Any information on how to repair a tear in a leather couch would also be appreciated.

q how to remove paint from leather
This is the one not peeling.
q how to remove paint from leather
This one is peeling.
  11 answers
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 03, 2021

    Hi Gail,

    So sorry this happened to you. What kind of paint did you use? Can you contact the manufacturer of the paint and see what they would suggest, have the lot numbers ready.

    Most of what I have read is for paint splatters of all kinds of paint, but nothing for an actual painted piece of furniture.

    At this point it will involve a lot of work to remove it and I am not sure it is possible to remove it entirely without damaging the leather. You may want to consider reupholstering it.

    A thought is to contact someone who works in a leather shop and has painted leather. Maybe try Angie's list or Google for help in your area.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 03, 2021

    Consider looking into Heirloom Traditions Paint. I have not personally used it for this purpose but have seen many posts where others have.

  • Betsy Betsy on Nov 03, 2021

    Hi Gail: Well, the success of any project is preparation. You might be able to clean it and repaint it, but if it was a bit wonky to begin with, you may not get a good job. Here's a site that talks about removing paint from leather.,stains%20can%20be%20removed%20by%20gently...%20More%20

    This site talks about sealing paint to leather:

    These 2 talk about painting leather, maybe you missed a step on this particular piece of furniture:

    Good luck

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 03, 2021

    Maybe it wasn't leather after all but just a good copy! Sounds to me as though anything you used to remove the paint, might strip the fabric too. my suggestion would be to try anything and everything, but realizing you may have to strip the upholstery in the end!

    • Gail Gail on Nov 03, 2021

      Yeah…it’s leather except for the sides. Thanks for the (desperate) solution. Lol That was going to be my last resort.

  • I'd suggest contacting the paint manufacturer, see what they have to say. If it's only the sides, replacing that fabric wouldn't be as traumatic as having to reupholster the whole thing.

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 04, 2021

    You can remove most of the dry paint stain using a pin or the tip of a small sharp knife. Be very careful when doing this to avoid accidentally cutting through the leather material.

    If there’s still dry paint residue left behind, spray some citrus cleaner on the area with a plant spray bottle. Be sure to spray a generous amount until the entire area is completely soaked. It’s important to note here that you should stick to the affected area only and avoid any contact with other parts of the material.

    Allow the cleaner to soak for at least one minute before you wipe it off with a dampened piece of kitchen scrubbing pad. Be sure to use gentle force while rubbing the paint away. The last thing you want is to leave a nasty mark or tear on your prized leather.

    Lastly, wipe the area using a clean cloth until it’s dry. Wait for another 60 seconds before you check the final result. If you still notice residue left behind, repeat the above process starting with a generous spray of a gentle cleaner and only stop when you notice that there’s no more paint left behind.

    • Gail Gail on Nov 04, 2021

      Well, the entire piece is painted. Won’t the citrus spray be enough and what kind of citrus cleaner should I use. Thank you for your help.

  • Gail Gail on Nov 05, 2021

    I want to thank you all for your great suggestions. I have a really powerful steamer and used it on a spot where it’s peeling and am able to roll back to paint with my finger. It’s a lot of work and don’t know if I will stick with it. I might just have to get a new couch.

    • Gail Gail on Nov 28, 2021

      I redid it with rustoleum chalked paint. It did work but because it has an acrylic base it’s not as pliable. Next time I’ll make a chalk paint with latex paint. There are many recipes I can research.

      Thank you very, very much!

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 06, 2021

    Hello, sorry this happened, hope it all works out well,, but you could try to redo it with chalk paint

    • See 1 previous
    • Deb K Deb K on Nov 07, 2021

      I was thinking you can do a feathering over that peeling part and blend it with a feathering motion, chalk paint is very forgiving, just rough up the area where it peeled so the paint sticks, hope this helps

  • Glenna Nice Glenna Nice on Nov 07, 2021

    Oh my, I can pretty much bet that the peeling one had some kind of oil soaked into the leather. Could have been a leather conditioner or an oily hand print you couldn't see or something. This is a hard one to answer being it is leather and spray paint. Picking my brain, the only perfect solution would be to remove the paint by peeling it off, which will take a lot of time and effort. Short solution, not perfect by any means, would be to use dawn dish soap and a toothbrush to gently but thoroughly clean all areas where the paint has peeled. you will want to peel back the paint layer about 1/ to 1/4 inch around the hole not removing it but leaving a bit of a flap all the way around. I see from your new photo you have a good start on that. The edges where it is "rolling up" tho need to be unrolled. you can use your steamer on that small patch after you clean it with dawn or a gentle degreaser, and on the rolled edges use something very thin and sturdy but not sharp like the rounded back end of a metal nail file to lift a small ring of paint around the hole, being sure not to stretch the paint too much. Let the leather and peeled paint completely air dry (very very important) making sure no one sits there and smashes the loosened paint ring down. once you have a loose border of the dried paint layer all the way around the hole, you will want to take clear nail polish, with a small brush, and "glue" down the edges securely to the leather. Let that dry for at least a half hour 45 min, or as long as possible. Do not use gel polish, it hardens too much it needs to be bendable, Top or base coat is fine as long as it does not have the fibers in it to help harden nails. After that is completely dry and stuck down remove any loose peeled paint that did not stick down carefully. Next spray some of the same spray paint into the cap of the can enough to make a puddle about quarter size, and get a soft thin liner brush (preferably for oil paint or acrylic so they don't loose their hairs in your couch and make a mess of it. Dab your brush in the paint and go all around the hole first on top of the old paint you just stuck down, with a light coat. proceed to use the brush to fill the hole. this may take a few coats with the brush, and will make brush marks but that is ok, it will get fixed in the next step. Right now just try to even out the thickness of the paint with the thickness of the old paint. Make sure you let each coat dry thoroughly, if not it will not look good and possibly make another hole in the paint. When the paint looks almost level with the rest of the paint you sprayed previously, and is completely dry, you can now do a few light coats with the spray can. Be sure not to hold it too close, you do not want any runs. And work in light coats... each light coat gives the next a gripping surface and will last way longer than thick coats. You can keep doing this till the brush marks are gone and you can no longer see the edge of the hole. I would overspray it a ways out form the hole to make sure you have an even dispersal of paint. Let it dry at least a full day before spraying your sealer, or clear spray paint over it in light coats once again. Also, if you ever decide to spray paint leather again, make sure it is completely oil free. Leather must be oiled to keep it supple and from cracking, if its genuine leather. So be absolutely sure there is no oil in the leather that can seep out over time and release the paint. If it is faux leather it won't be much of a problem. I really hope this helps, its a long process but much cheaper than a new couch. There are leather and suede repair kits online, which use fibers to fix rips holes and scuffs. Unfortunately once you've spray painted it with enamel these will not work. Good luck!

    If you need any more help feel free to contact me through my website, under email, or the tell me your ideas tab.

  • Gail Gail on Nov 28, 2021

    Thank you all for the advice.