Remove paint from a painted couch

Hello. I’m trying to find out what I can do to fix my leather couch that I ruined by painting it. It’s tacky and has peeled a little in some places. I tried removing some of the paint but there is a layer of primer under the layer I’m taking of and I just can’t remove it all. It there anything I can do to paint it with the right paint over what’s there now?
Thank you for your help.

Hey Gail,

Welcome to the forum. Can you tell us the type of paint (upholstery paint?) and primer you used on the couch? Also, what type of leather was the couch (i.e. suede, smooth - slick?). Also what color paint? And is it water based or oil based? This is going to be a tough one, but maybe there is a slight chance to recover…maybe…

In God’s Grace,

Pastor Bob

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8

Hello Gail, in addition to Bob’s questions do you have any photos of the couch? It might be a lost cause unfortuantely but there might be a chance you can salvage it by using some different products specific for leather to restore it.

Hi Bob,
I first used zinnzer primer, I believe, and white Valspar latex paint. I used the valspar on another leather loveseat, but not the primer and it was fine. I’m thinking the primer was old. It was very thick, like pudding, and I thinned it out with water.
The leather is smooth. Not shiny.
Thank you.

First step is to remove paint…

Scrape off excess paint. Mix a solution of one part liquid hand dishwashing detergent to one part cool water . Sponge the stain with the detergent solution, tamping it vigorously. Rinse and repeat until no more paint is removed.

Second…try to remove primer…

use denatured alcohol or ammoniated detergent to soften and remove primer.

I have never painted leather with valspar, nor tried to remove it. It sounds like the primer is the culprit. If you can remove the primer, you may be able to repaint it to match the love seat.

If this doesn’t help, set the couch at the curb.

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Hi Gail,

dsnyder and Bob have some good thoughts. I was thinking too, knowing the type of leather (natural, faux) might help us suggest an idea. If possible, could you share a photo?

If it’s faux leather, and depending on the size of the painted area, it might even be possible to very lightly sand the primer down, removing it, though leaving a slightly rough/textured surface. That might be then possible to apply a layer (or a few very thin ones) of leather filler, followed by a leather paint to blend with the areas around it.

These are just concept ideas, knowing a bit more, might be able to help with a more specific suggestion or so. Hopeing we can save it! We’ll see :slight_smile:

You can see where I tried to remove the paint. It’s impossible. It is leather where it touches the body. The leather part isn’t sticky, but the other parts are.
Thanks for your help.

Hi, ahh, I see, thank you the photo is very helpful.

It could possibly be a faux leather, that then bonded with the chemicals in the primer.

One idea, is since it is in the head area, is to possibly cut pieces of white leather (rectangles with rounded corners, or a decorative cut) and adhere them to the head rest area of each main cushion. That could cover the discoloration, and if done with a design-eye, might look ok.

That might not be a desired option, too. Maybe some other folks will come by with some insights.

Hoping there might be something that can be done :slight_smile:

Thanks for sharing the photo. It makes it a little easier to see what you’re dealing with. I agree with @Dan-Crafter on trying to cover that section on the headrest. I am surprised at how well the rest of the couch looks. I was envisioning a massacre of paint on leather. It really looks nice, except for the headrest section.

You could do as Dan suggested and adhere with contact cement, some small sections of color matching panels. You could probably source the materials from either Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. If you go this route, you can make it less obvious by skiving the edges down around the edge of the panel. Or you could make a decorative accent by stitching around the edge of the panel then gluing it to the couch, making it look like it is sewn on (if you have a machine, you could actually roll the edge under to provide a smooth edge to the panel.)

You could also get a contrasting color panel (the white may be hard to match) and whip stitch it, attaching it at the back edge only where the back of the head rest meets the top of the back frame piece. The remaining 3 sides of the panel would be unstitched and resemble the “vintage” head rest covers on some recliners. If you leave edges loose, you may want to burnish the edges (smooth them down using a burnisher (sold at Hobby Lobby ~ $5) or fine grit sandpaper.

All said, with the rest of the couch looking as nice as it does in the pictures, I would not go through the trouble of trying to remove all the paint and starting over. I would come up with some way to conceal the area on the headrest.

Good Luck!!!

That part is leather. The parts that are faux are on the sides and they’re sticky.
I ordered some chalk paint because I’ve been reading where others have painted over leather and otherwise types of material on their couches with much success.
I worked with leather as a hobby when I was a teenager. I often miss it, but with how expensive it is now it’s not something I can get back into.
Thanks again!

Hi Gail,

Thanks for sharing more about it. Always feel free to reach out with any questions. Hoping the chalk paint works!

It worked! I painted it it’s rustoleum chalk paint and then went over it with Johnson Paste Wax.

I am glad you found a solution and shared it with us. That looks amazing! Not sticky anymore, either, I bet.

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Thank you for sharing the update! That’s great to know that it works, and it came out looking very nice. Great project!