How To: Condition a leather sofa

June 20, 2012

Q. We have an English-style leather sofa that we have used and enjoyed for 15 years. The leather, a mottled brown and black, now appears dry and dull. Is it possible to give it some shine? I’d like to do the work myself.

Columbia

A. If the leather just looks dull and dry but hasn’t cracked, you should be able to restore the luster by applying a rub-on leather conditioner. The treatment won’t fix leather that’s begun to crack, however. If you’re not sure about how far gone the leather is, you can e-mail pictures (including close-ups of any especially worn areas) to Ram Furniture Services in Manassas at ramtech@ramlfs.com and ask for advice, said Kathy Wimbish, the office manager.

If conditioner is an option, Ram (800-333-2302, www.leather-furniture-repair-services.com) sells Soft Touch Leather Conditioner for $35 a bottle. Treating a sofa typically requires one or two bottles, depending on the size and whether you need one or two coats. Application is easy: Just rub on with a soft, white, lint-free cloth, such as an old T-shirt.

Many other companies also make leather conditioners. Guardsman, which has a wide-ranging line of leather-care products, sells a seven-ounce bottle of Unfinished Leather Conditioner for $5 at www.guardsman.com. Sue Harman, a technical expert for the company, says one bottle is enough for several applications on even a long sofa. Once the conditioner is on, she said, you can then maintain the finish using the company’s leather cleaner and leather protector, available at the Havertys furniture store in Columbia (410-715-9700, www.havertys.com). The retail products aren’t enough to add luster to leather that’s become chaffed, however.

Your turn: soundproofing

A reader wrote in with a caution for those considering soundproofing their apartments: “Although Ms. Huber’s recommendations were generally correct, she neglected to inform the reader that any work performed on a floor/ceiling assembly involves a modification to the fire rating of the assembly as well as possible impact to lighting fixtures located within the assembly if insulation is installed. In both instances, a building permit is required for this work, and the work should be reviewed by the jurisdictional authority and a licensed design professional to ensure conformance with building and life-safety related codes.”

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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Loudoun County designer Raji Radhakrishnan joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A about decorating and household advice. Submit questions now.

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