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-   -   Vinyl vs Leather Upholstery Kits, My Experiences (https://forums.tbforums.com/showthread.php?t=342066)

MSGGrunt 05-18-2018 09:12 PM

Vinyl vs Leather Upholstery Kits, My Experiences
I am by no means an upholstery expert, but as an amateur I have discovered a few things while redoing the upholstery in my 240 wagon in black vinyl and in my BMW E30 in leather. Having worked with both my third go around in my new to me 1991 240 will be in leather. The vinyl kit for the wagon was purchased off EBay for $109.00 plus shipping per seat, so pretty inexpensive.


The leather company I used for my BMW seat covers was Lseat.com and I was very happy with their product, especially at their price point. The standard kit for a pair of front seat covers in a tan leather is $299.00 plus shipping and a bit extra if you add piping, which I did.


My observations... Though the vinyl is less expensive than the leather kit there is a reason for it. I found that I had to be especially careful with the vinyl kit with how much I stretched the covers and how much stress I put on the sewn seams. I started tearing one out, thankfully in a hidden location, because I was stretching it too hard. Probably my fault for pulling too hard. Also, the aftermarket vinyl kit wasn't as thick as the original vinyl covers. With the leather the material is much thicker and the thread used in the sewing of the seams appears to be of a much higher quality. I am replacing my front cloth seat covers because they are pretty worn and decided that going with leather would give me better durability than the aftermarket vinyl. The vinyl seems like it would also be easily punctured compared to the leather. Currently Lseat.com does not sell a rear upholstery kit, but that is about to change. I contacted them and am sending them my rear covers to be used as a pattern for future leather kits. You will have to cut your own holes for the headrests and side adjusters, but I had to in the vinyl as well. And I advise using proper hog rings for installation vs zip ties that I have seen others use.

My biggest advice with the leather kits from Lseat.com is to order their sample swatch card before placing your order. The leather samples in person do not look ANYTHING like the pictures depicted on their website, especially the browns. The S0013 Beige is a perfect match for the tan interior in my dark blue 240, but you would never think so by looking at that color on the website as it looks more grey. The S0024 Sapphire looks like it would be a good match to the blue cloth in my other Atlantic Blue 240.

You can order matching leather by the square foot from them as well and I ordered enough to recover my rear parcel shelf in matching leather.

MSGGrunt 05-18-2018 09:13 PM

Lseat.com now has my rear seat covers to use as a pattern, so anyone looking to recover their back seats they should have them available in the near future. Their main focus is leather, but I do see on their site that they offer vinyl as well if one wanted to match vinyl front seats.

A lot of people, myself included, like the cloth seats in the 240's, especially if heated, but these are not easily replaced when they wear out. When they do wear out you are pretty much left with like colored vinyl covers, custom made by a local shop, or now leather covers being sold by Lseat.com. I went the vinyl route in the front on my wagon because my back vinyl seat covers were still in good condition and I wanted everything to match and while they turned out OK in the end, the vinyl just wasn't/isn't as robust as the leather. I am not saying that leather covers can't be bought from other vendors, but at around $300 per set front and rear the price of the Lseat.com covers is pretty hard to beat. I was very happy with their product when I used it to restore my BMW E30 sport seats. And they have 8 separate pieces vs Volvo's 2.

I have blue cloth interior in another 240 that is in perfect shape that it kills me to have to cover up with seat covers just to try and preserve the covers from wear.

Hope this helps...

MSGGrunt 05-18-2018 09:16 PM

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My cloth covers being replaced aren't too bad, but the driver's upper bolster is a little worn. I'll post more once the covers from LSeat arrive and I install them.

M.H. Yount 05-18-2018 09:24 PM

Following along....

Redwood Chair 05-19-2018 04:56 PM

The problem piece of the puzzle anymore that's for sure.

Tfrasca 05-19-2018 11:52 PM

Also interested. I bought some vinyl/cloth covers for my 142 two years ago from VP. The top part of the rear seat has already ripped wide open, and needs to be replaced.

MSGGrunt 05-20-2018 06:17 AM

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This is the rear cover in my E30 BMW. Of course the Volvo one will have the fold down armrest, but still a pretty simple design.

Tfrasca 05-20-2018 11:05 AM


Originally Posted by MSGGrunt (Post 5799690)
This is the rear cover in my E30 BMW. Of course the Volvo one will have the fold down armrest, but still a pretty simple design.

Is that the "Tan" color from the Lseat site? It looks like maybe a passable match to my tan door panels.

MSGGrunt 05-20-2018 11:31 AM

The color in the picture above is their S0019 brown which has a bit of a redish tint to it and what I used in my BMW. The tan I ordered for my Volvo was their S0013 Beige.

MSGGrunt 06-07-2018 08:50 PM

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The leather arrived today and I can report that they are way heavier than the Ebay vinyl covers I bought for my wagon. The vacuum sealed package with nothing but the covers weighed 10 pounds.

MSGGrunt 06-07-2018 08:54 PM

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The leather is very thick and should be very durable. The leather has a foam backing, for what purpose I do not know, but I guess it can't hurt.

MSGGrunt 06-07-2018 08:59 PM

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I am happy with the color. It is a very close match to the vinyl of the door cards, but a bit darker than the cloth of the seats which can be attributed to the fabric being a bit lighter to begin with as well as being faded over the last 28 years. The only "detail" not like the original covers is that the center section of the seats have three panels while the stock seats have four. This does not bother me in the least bit.

MSGGrunt 06-07-2018 09:03 PM

The plastic parts that I painted with the SEM Camel Color Coat are a little darker than the leather, but I would be afraid that their palomino would be too light.

nel621 06-07-2018 09:44 PM

You'll never get the plastic and door panels to match the leather unless you have the leather first. Then have a custom paint mixed to match. Even the OE Volvo interiors had a mix of tans. I agree with you about the vinyl covers. I did a pair of front seats for a client and sure enough I got a small tear on the side when tugging too hard. Good thing it was down low and not easily seen. I just did another front seat for a different customer and sure enough I took more time with it and no rips. The customers provided the covers so I don't know who made them. The second set seemed more robust. The OE vinyl I think is twice as thick if not more.
Curious, what was the cost for the pair of leather covers?

nel621 06-07-2018 09:52 PM

Quick note, both cars I worked on had blue interiors. The new vinyl was a slightly lighter shade of blue and not shine like the new covers. Could have been years of Armour All or some other treatment. I did notice on a test section, if you applied a conditioner to the new vinyl it did get darker and shine.
If you ordered extra leather you may want to try and test a section with leather condition to see if the color changes to your liking.

MSGGrunt 06-08-2018 05:28 AM

The covers are $299.00 plus shipping from Lseat.com. I believe with the piping option, which I opted for, they were $329.00 plus shipping.


The rear set will cost the same. They don't have the rears listed on their site yet as they are still working on the cloth covers I provided them as a pattern.

I have found that the German vinyl, either BMW or especially Mercedes, are really durable. I had "MB Tex" in a 190E and that stuff wore like iron.

Yes, Tan is not easy to match. I know I am just being picky. I am sure the interior will come together nicely when I have it all put back together.

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