A reader’s red leather couch. (Reader photo)

QI have a red Natuzzi leather sofa. The leather on the seat is starting to crack. What’s the best way to restore its former appearance, and how should I moisturize it after I get the cracks filled in? Also, is it possible to change the color? The red is nice, but it really dominates the decor of the room!

Silver Spring

AIt’s the color finish, not the leather itself, that is cracking. This type of damage can sometimes be repaired. But sometimes the only option is to replace that panel of the upholstery.

Natuzzi’s warranty on upholstery is for only two years, so unless your piece is quite new, you’ll probably need to pay for the repair yourself. David Zein at the Natuzzi Italia store in Georgetown recommends getting help from Ram Leather and Fur Care in Manassas (800-333-2302; www.ramleatherandfur.com). The company offers free consultations for people who e-mail pictures of damaged pieces to ramtech@ramlfs.com. Or you can arrange an in-home consultation for $75. If you go ahead with a repair, $50 of that will go toward the repair bill.

The cost will depend on the extent of the damage and how your couch is constructed. If the cracking is so severe that panels on the cushions need to be replaced, the leather cost would range from $200 to $600 per hide, and labor would be $170 to $500 per cushion, depending on whether the cushions are loose or integral to the couch. Pickup and delivery costs $150.

Natuzzi recommends spot-cleaning with a soft cloth moistened with a little mild soap diluted in water. It recommends against using any type of conditioner or leather moisturizer.

And, yes, you can have the bright red toned down, but it’s wise to stick with burgundy or another color in the red family so you don’t see a dramatic color change if some of the new color wears away over time.

The April 4 “Checklist” suggested cleaning and sealing driveways and referred readers to the Virginia Asphalt Association, which “lists contractors who meet standards.” I went to www.vaasphalt.
and searched for such a list. Sure, there were links to member paving firms that would be useful if I wanted to build or repave a road instead of a residential driveway. How do I find contractors who meet standards for driveway sealing?


You raise a very good point. Most of the companies listed by the Virginia Asphalt Association focus on big projects such as roads or are materials suppliers. But there is at least one company that advertises residential work, Templeton Paving in Lynchburg. A representative there recommended Young’s Sealcoating (434-239-8575; www.youngsealcoating.
), but it’s also in Lynchburg, which is too far from you to be very helpful in a direct way. Indirect help, though, is something else. Owner Steve Young said one of the best ways for homeowners to find a reputable seal-coater in their area is to use the listing service of the Virginia Asphalt Association, but just as the first step. He said people should call one of the companies listed there and ask for a recommendation for someone who does sealcoating in that area.

Mike Horrell, an estimator at Virginia Paving, a manufacturer that’s listed and has an office in Alexandria, recommended going with a company that not only does sealcoating but is also equipped to rip out the asphalt and redo it when the pavement is too deteriorated for sealcoating to be of much help. One company like this on his list is Collegiate Sealers & Paving in Chantilly (800-220-7615; www.sealmydriveway.com).

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.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in May, such as testing sump pumps, at washingtonpost.com/home.