How To Change The Colour Of Leather?
You can change any colour to either lighter or darker colours, anything is possible.
The leather re-colouring kit used in this guide can be used to change the colour of various types of leather including car seats, sofas, chairs etc.
Leather Colourant Kit – Used for colouring leather
The first step is to prep the leather, using an abrasive pad wrapped in a towelling material, soak this in leather prep and rub the leather finish quite vigorously to remove the old finish from the leather item, you must remove enough to make the surface absorbent again.
It is advisable to wear a mask as this part of the process is very smelly.
As you rub you will notice that colour is being removed, this is good and is proof that the finish is coming off. This is what you need to do to prepare the leather for re-colouring.
The leather will start to look very patchy and will be a matt finish now, this is because you are removing the surface colour and finish.
There will be a lot of residue from the colour which can be removed just by wiping with a cloth which will take off the excess prep as well.
You should now be able to see the original colour of the leather underneath, do not worry if not all the colour is removed it will cover evenly but do try to remove as much as you can.
As long as the surface is a matt finish you should be ok to carry on to the next step.
Please Note…… Leather is coloured in the manufacturing of the skins.
When the leather gets old and dries out the leather looks cracked but actually most of the time it is only the top surface of colour that is cracked.
Using the leather prep breaks down or removes fully that colour coat therefore evening out the “cracking” that is in the top surface.
The leather then looks much smoother as the cracking that was in the colour has been removed by the leather prep. There may be some cracking in the leather which we will deal with at a later step.
Using a new towel and the alcohol cleaner continue wiping down the leather to clean any residue of colour or dirt and grease leftover.
This prepares the surface and makes it better for applying the colour.
Preparation is the key point in colour changing do not skip these steps it will not work and rectifying it will take time.
At this stage there may be a few cracks in the surface of the leather that you would like to sort out.
Using the coloured heavy filler and a palette knife smooth the filler into the cracking and leave to dry.
Once this is dry you can sand any excess with a 320 grade sandpaper to smooth the area.
Give the area another wipe with the alcohol cleaner to ensure it is dust and dirt free.
When all this is completed you are ready to start applying the colour.
Start by using a sponge and apply a coat of colour over the whole area ready to be fully re-coloured, this is like a primer coat so do not worry if it is a bit thin or not even.
Try to get colour into hard to reach areas like between cushions and tight gaps you can dry with a hairdryer in these areas hold the cushions apart until dry if possible, the thinner you do the colour the quicker this will dry.
If you do these areas first it will save time later and you will find the spraying much easier to achieve if the difficult areas are out of the way first.
It should only take a few minutes for the first coat to dry thoroughly. Enabling you to apply the next coat quite quickly.
The next step is to spray on the leather colourant with an airbrush, you may find the easiest way to do this is in straight lines stopping the flow of air at to the end of each stroke.
You can then proceed to re-colour the whole area ensuring even coverage is gained.
You can apply as many coats as required but usually 3 or 4 are sufficient ensuring you fully dry each coat before you apply the next one.
Once you are happy with the colour you are ready to seal it in.
This is done with the clear lacquer.
There is a gloss finish and a matt finish, these can be mixed together to create any kind of sheen you prefer.
This can be applied in the exact same way as the colourant, by airbrush in thin coats, and fully dry in between each coat with a hairdryer before applying the next coat.
Ideally 3 or 4 coats will form a hard wearing finish that will last.
Avoid A Dry Line Edge
- Note; when spraying colour or lacquer make sure you overlap the spray lines by at least 50% to make sure you don’t end up with a dry line edge. What this means is that when your spraying if you don’t overlap each time you will miss small sections causing the paint to look and feel dry like sandpaper.
- It’s best to spray colourants at a distance of approx 12 to 15 inches away from the object spraying at approx 20psi for colourants.
- When spraying lacquer try to reduce the nozzle slightly and spray at about 18 inches away and reduce the pressure to about 15psi to 18psi.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT PREPARING THE LEATHER FOR A COLOUR CHANGE / REPAIR
Any job that requires a recolour it’s important that the leather surface is prepped correctly. You have to make sure that you take off enough top coating / colour to make the leather absorbent again.
To test this it’s best to place a ten pence size drop of water on to the surface for around a minute and then wipe this off if it has gone darker and soaked in to the leathers surface then that’s the perfect situation to carry out a repair to the colour of the leather.
If you imagine a car body that has been painted and they have just sprayed over the top of the old colour in time this will flake off and come away, this is what will happen to the leather coating you are applying if you don’t prep the surface correctly.