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Can this leather be restored?

The viability of restoring your leather lounge, leather car seats, handbag or apparel has a lot to do with how much you love it, how much longer you’d like to keep it as well as the quality and condition.

What is ‘restoration’

In this context, ‘leather restoration’ refers to cosmetic leather repairs and new colour coatings. It’s all about repairing damage, slowing further breakdown and getting your leather looking great again. When it comes to sofas, generally, restoration becomes a welcome solution after a few years of wear and tear have occurred and there’s a motivation to keep the furniture for any number of reasons.

In this article, we will focus on leather restoration (refinishing). Whilst we refer to sofas, the same information applies to leather upholstery in other applications such as cars and boats as well as on handbags and apparel.

Reasons for restoring leather

  • Comfort – there’s nothing better than a perfectly worn-in sofa that offers familiar comfort
  • Poor alternatives – a lack of appealing alternative options available in stores. Buying new can mean accepting a reduction in quality and comfort
  • Timing – you might be moving in a couple of years and want to wait till then to replace furniture
  • Expense – restoring is significantly cheaper than replacing with quality furniture or retrimming
  • Maintenance – leather needs regular maintenance just like cars, homes, clothing and gardens, etc to keep it looking good and lasting well
  • Circumstances – there are many! Families and pets can take their toll so making the best of the existing furniture can make the most sense. Selling your house or car can be other reasons to spruce up leather upholstery cost-effectively. Sentimental attachment can be all the reason needed for restoring leather items
  • Environment – we are all becoming increasingly aware of our contribution to unprecedented levels of consumer waste and the need to slow our consumption

When considering a leather restoration, perhaps the first question is viability. Is my sofa repairable?

The decision to restore often depends on personal priorities

and is determined on a case by case basis

This discussion starts with leather and coatings that are shabby, damaged or undesirable in some way; the wrong colour, faded, stained, greasy, scuffed, worn, torn, or delaminating (flaking).

When damage is too advanced

Restoration is not viable when leather is:

  • Brittle and ripped open in large sections; so hardened that the edges are sharp and stiff, especially in load-bearing locations such as seat cushions (often seen in cars as a result of exposure to wet swimwear and high heat)
  • Rotten with grease – in advanced cases, hair and body oil cause leather to tear and can prevent successful repairs
  • Faux materials – many man-made leather-like materials are difficult to repair. Whilst immediate results can be pleasing, the unstable nature of the faux material can undermine your repair efforts

NOT VIABLE: These rips are too large and too brittle to repair. They are also in load-bearing locations (seats) so any repairs would be heavily strained. Retrimming is best in these cases.

NOT VIABLE: ‘Crust’ (unfinished leather) it is a light blue-grey colour. Notice the dark colour of the leather under the coatings? That’s lots and lots of human hair oil. It has penetrated into the structure of the leather causing it to ‘rot’ and split. Repairing leather that is heavily impregnated with oil is extra challenging and likely to deliver poor results.

NOT VIABLE: This man-made PU ‘leather’ is damaged beyond repair. With some careful repair work, it could be improved somewhat but would most likely still look lumpy and bumpy and not aesthetically pleasing. PU leather cannot be sanded as leather can, so repairing this type of damage is less viable. Cat scratches in natural leather can often be repaired very successfully.

Possible, but …

Leather that has been damaged by body oil, perspiration and a lack of cleaning can be improved with restoration. Results vary and the repaired areas require extra care. This level of damage cannot be reversed but it can often be cosmetically improved.

POSSIBLE: This is advanced damage. Repairs are possible if you are up for a DIY challenge. There can be good reasons to try and results can be incredibly satisfying.

With patient work and the right leather repair products, this dark green lounge was repaired to a significantly improved result. It is part of a larger suite of 4 separate pieces, all in very good condition except for one, very damaged panel. By repairing the area, the life of the entire suite was extended.

Extra care and future touch-ups can help to keep leather looking its best.

Delamination

POSSIBLE: ‘Delamination’ describes the breakdown of the original coatings whereby they appear to tesselate into tiny tiles that flake off leaving the leather exposed. It usually occurs on seat cushions. The first close-up image above shows the texture and typical look of advanced delamination. It happens on some leathers after years of use, particularly where there’s been an absence of regular cleaning to remove soiling, body oil and perspiration.

With thorough surface preparation, refinishing (applying new leather coatings) can give a dramatic make-over to delaminated leather. Whilst perfect results should not be expected and the life of the new coatings may be reduced, restoration offers a viable means of prolonging the usable life of ageing leather. With ongoing coatings maintenance over time, a sofa can be sustained for years to come.

The second image above shows the same sample of leather after treatment with Leather Hero’s Binder and Repair Kit. An excellent result was achieved. Every piece of used leather is unique, may respond differently to treatment and give different performance. That said, treating delaminated leather always produces a welcome improvement.

Man-made ‘leathers’

POSSIBLE: Low-grade, man-made leathers and materials can be re-coloured and whilst some are moderately repairable, others are not. Brittle vinyl, peeling bonded leather and flaking PU leather are generally considered unsuitable for repair. Restoration efforts can buy some more time and make things look better but the continued breakdown of the material is usually inevitable.

Having these bed-head panels reupholstered would mean dissassembling the bed. However, the extraordinary weight of the furniture and the second floor location prevented this option.The delaminating upper layers of the PU leather were removed via sanding and scraping (where possible) before a hand-rubbed vintage-style tri-tone effect was applied using leather paints. The restoration created a worthwhile improvement that helped to extend the life of the original panels.

When is restoration viable?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide but here is a list of problems that can be significantly improved with restoration:

  • Fading – UV fading on aniline and semi-aniline is common and can be restored with astounding results
  • Wrong colour – a colour change can make a massive difference to the appeal of a sofa
  • Colour wear – new coatings transform leather that has lost colour due to wear (abrasion from use)
  • Scuffs and scratches – minor surface damage can be repaired using pro-grade repairing materials to a level that can be anywhere between somewhat detectable, discreet or completely undetectable/invisible
  • Tears – these can vary greatly. They are often repairable and can help to slow further degradation. Large, open, load-bearing rips are usually best corrected via re-upholstery
  • Delamination – when the original coatings are flaking, leather Binder can help to stabilise the loose and porous surface and enable refinishing to produce pleasing results. Heavily damaged leather can require periodic colour-work to extend the usable life of the leather and keep it looking good
  • Old and valuable – careful restoration can help to preserve older leather items
  • Greasy – in mild to moderate cases, an oil extractor can help to minimise oils that have penetrated into leather thereby preparing it for colour-work
  • Marks and stains – unwanted marks can be recoated, effectively making them disappear
  • Dry and dirty – with our without colourwork, sentimental pieces can be revived and preserved

Let’s look at each of these issues.

Fading – Restored glory

VIABLE: UV fading is common on aniline and semi-aniline furniture especially in sunny homes. Luckily DIY restoration can produce excellent results. This quality semi-aniline leather lounge showed extensive and uneven fading. Restoring the colour to match the original colour was like hitting the reset button. The leather no longer appears dry and exposed but rather, protected and luxurious. With periodic touch-ups, the original colour can be maintained year after year.

Wrong colour

VIABLE: Let your imagination run wild in the wonderful world of colour. Most leathers can be re-coloured in the same or a completely new and different colour. You can go light over dark and vice versa. With a Large Repair Kit, a 3 seater lounge can be completely transformed with new coatings. Recolouring requires opaque (not able to see through) coverage and this comes from pigments (paints) rather than dyes (which are transparent). A semi-aniline look can be achieved by using a blend of pigments and dyes. Leather Hero features a range of ‘Aniline’ colours that provide coverage with luminous dyes for depth and vibrance.

Isolated repairs on nubuck and suede are possible and are great for treating faded jackets and unwanted marks but whole nubuck furniture recolours are not viable.

Colour-wear – The typical pattern

VIABLE: Colour-wear is the gradual abrasion of the colour coatings. It typically occurs in high impact areas like seat cushions. Soiling, scratches, early-stage delamination and colour-wear changed the appeal of the white leather sofa. Above, the texture of the red leather was smooth and the cuticle (surface) strong, making it ideal for restoration. New coatings re-set the aesthetics and gave protection to the leather thereby extending the usable life of these sofas.

This process can be repeated as needed as the years go by. Well maintained coatings make for a well-maintained sofa.

Scuffs and scratches – pets and bingles

VIABLE: Restoration doesn’t always produce perfect results but it usually creates a dramatic and welcome improvement. Here, the cat scratches were sanded, glued, filled and smoothed before being refinished. They were not 100% invisible but they were very inconspicuous. The full refinish addressed years of colour-wear thereby revitalising the vibrance and finish of the entire couch.

Tears – Accidents happen

VIABLE: Despite the tear, this leather was in good condition and therefore repairable to a pleasingly discreet result. The area was cleaned, a sub-patch inserted, then Leather Hero pro-grade repairing and refinishing products were used to join and conceal the rip. Repairs to rips in non-load bearing areas can be extremely successful.

Old and valuable

VIABLE: Beauty and value are in the eye of the beholder and sometimes, the collector. This iconic 1970’s Anfibio sofa bed by Alessandro Becchi has been treasured for half a century. Despite the aged condition of the leather, there were no rips or tears, just lots of stains, colour-wear, dryness and cracking. The quality, designer and historical value of the piece made it ideal for restoration. The results were true to the original look and incredibly satisfying.

Greasy – Hair and body oil

VIABLE (mild cases only): Restoration of oil affected leather can be viable but it’s a question of severity.

Leather is porous and can readily absorb body and hair oil. On aniline leathers, this shows as dark patches. On pigmented leathers, it can be hard to detect until it’s too late. Oils can ‘rot’ the fibers causing it to split. To spot it, look for the colour of the leather (not the coatings). If it is blackish, that may indicate heavy oil absorbtion. Torn, oil sodden leather is extremely tricky to repair and may not be worth the effort unless the repaired furniture is no longer used as a functional piece (ie, the chair you don’t use). As with most other types of leather damage, prevention and regular cleaning are key to avoiding these unwelcome problems.

Where oil penetration is light and correct surface preparation is undertaken, results can be satisfying. The use on an Oil Extractor can help to draw oils from leather before refinishing.

In the example shown above, a semi-aniline lounge was treated using Leather Hero’s Aniline Dye & Colour Restoration Kit. This refinishing system for aniline and semi-aniline make-overs, blends dyes and pigments (paints) to give partial coverage thereby allowing the characteristics of the leather to shine. Where heavy stains are present and full coverage is needed, the Large Repair Kit can be used. This converts the finish from aniline to pigmented.

Marks and stains

VIABLE: Marks and stains happen. Refinishing pigmented leathers with new coatings completely conceals unwanted blemishes, large and small.

Dry & dusty

VIABLE: Technically speaking, this is not a restoration as no leather coatings or dyes were used.

The sentimental and heritage value of this Australian Super Northern, Genuine Wieneke saddle meant that a sensitive restoration was most appropriate. There was no desire to make it look like new but rather to retain the character features and to bring up a lustrous vintage shine. The process was simple; a good clean with Spot & Prep (No.4) followed by a generous application of Nourish (No.2) to moisturise then Waxy Nourish (No.9) to render a rich waxed finish. A light buffing was all that was needed to transform this cockroach and mouse gnawed, dusty old saddle to a treasured family heirloom.

Maintaining leather coatings

Re-colouring quality leather that is in good condition can give extremely durable results that last for years. Giving leather correct care extends the life of the leather and coatings. Repairs in non-load bearing areas can also last indefinitely.

When leather is compromised or damaged, restoration can help to extend the usable life thereby maximising the value you get from the upholstery. Like the original coatings, your restoration may need a touch-up in the future. In fact, replacing worn coatings is part of maintaining leather upholstery. Leather Hero offers simple to use restoration products that make light work of maintaining leather coatings.

In short, the better the condition of the leather and regular leather care,

the longer your restoration lasts.

In areas where leather is weaker, some coatings maintenance may be needed sooner.

The same can be said for usage. Light use means a restoration can endure for years. Heavy use can mean periodic touch-ups are needed to keep things looking great.

Once you’ve completed a restoration,

you will be amazed by the easy process and incredible results.

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How to Clean Leather

The renowned luxury of leather is undeniable. When it’s not clean, that luxury fades and the experience of using it is greatly diminished. Soiled leather becomes clogged with contaminants that damage the structure and compromise the coatings, eventually leading to dry, greasy, peeling and ripped leather. Leather care is something you want to get right. It’s a relatively expensive material when compared to man-made options and using the wrong approach can have swift or delayed and disastrous results.

First, What Not To Use

Skip the ’clever hacks’ and the ‘all-natural’ home-made recipes you find on the internet. They are ill-informed and the risks are real. We’ve seen beautiful Italian leather destroyed when toothpaste was used to remove mould – as suggested by an online blog. Also, give a wide birth to household cleaners. We’ve seen many sofas ruined – rips, flaking coatings and stripped colour – from the use of the wrong type of cleaner such as cream cleansers, cleaning wipes, oils and other unsuitable chemicals. Your leather deserves better than supermarket grade leather care and although the kit you purchased with the sofa from the furniture store may do no harm, it might not have much cleaning grunt.

Bring in the Professionals

If you clean and maintain your leather furniture once every 3 months or so using the right products and methods, you’ve got this. Put your feet up, it’s time to relax. If you don’t, you may need the help of a trained leather technician.

Companies that specialise in leather care and restoration are experts with unique skills and knowledge. They are best placed to provide the thorough, correct and results-driven services you need. All too often, we encounter customers who complain that they were disappointed with the results of their last service. When we ask if they used a dedicated leather care company, the answer is most typically ‘no’.

Our tip; stick with the people who can address colour and finish problems, identify the leather type and select the right cleaner and technique rather than the one-size-fits-all approach you might find elsewhere. The cost of a quick, cheap or incorrect service can prove expensive in the long run.

Customers also tell us that they weren’t sure what to do to maintain their leather lounge so they did nothing. There’s no doubt that DIY done wrong can be a source of regret. So, how do the pros clean leather?

Success lies in the use of the right products, accessories and method.

The Right Products

Good leather care involves 3 steps; cleaning, conditioning and a protective anti-soiling barrier often referred to as leather protection treatment

Cleaning

The ideal cleaner is strong enough to lift dirt yet mild enough to avoid damaging the coatings or the leather.

Leather cleaning needs to balance short term results against long term effects

A professional-grade pH neutral general maintenance leather cleaner is ideal for everyday cleaning. It should be formulated specifically for leather, water-based, non-sudsing, non-greasy, non-abrasive, non-toxic and easy to use. With regular use, a good cleaner controls soiling and makes light work of maintaining your leather.

There are a few products you’ll never see a professional use. Abrasive cleaners are close to the top of that list. Many people have turned to them in an emergency to make quick work of an ink or red wine stain – but with disastrous results. They not only cut through the stain but the manufacturer’s coatings as well. Harsh and drying, they inevitably lead to rips and tears. Oily cleaners can leave a greasy, dust-collecting finish and detergents require too much water to rinse. Essential oils and strong solvent cleaners can react with the coatings causing tackiness or can dissolve the finish completely.

For the structural health of your leather, a pH neutral solution is best. Other cleaners can leave leather dry or greasy leading to cracking, peeling, rips or rotting.

Pros Know Leather

As there are a few main types of leather in use today, there are leather care products tailored to their requirements. What works on a pigmented lounge may be unsuitable for a suede handbag so it’s important to consider the type of leather before selecting a cleaner and conditioner.

The wrong conditioner

Imagine the owner’s dismay to see these white marks appear as he applied a respected household name conditioner on a favourite leather jacket. The conditioner is perfect for boots but not appropriate for unfinished apparel leather. We extracted the wax and applied a conditioner designed for anilines.

The Right Accessories

To get a great result you may be surprised to learn that most professionals use a scrubbing brush and some microfibre cloths.

When it comes to leather cleaning, you want to strike a balance between using gear that makes light work of the job and not damaging your leather. Gentle is best.

Look for a bristle brush similar to a nail scrubbing brush or a standard domestic cleaning brush. The bristles should not be too hard or inflexible. A light circular motion is usually ideal for agitating the dirt from the grain.

An absorbent microfibre cloth is perfect for wiping away the dirt. After cleaning, especially if the leather was very soiled, your technician may rinse the cloth or use a fresh damp cloth to wipe over the surface to ‘rinse’ before applying the conditioner.

Some accessories are in the toolbox but it’s important to use them with discretion. For the most part, we avoid magic erazers as they are deceivingly abrasive. They can quickly cut through the clear topcoat which can rapidly advance the normal aging process. If recolouring, however, and there’s an ink stain to remove first, a magic erazer can help. For most pros, these effective white sponges would not be the go-to solution for marks unless they intend to replace the abraided coatings with new ones.

Similarly, when it comes to cleaning leather, kitchen scourers can be overkill – unless refinishing (recolouring) is in the plan. They are usually less abrasive than magic sponges and when new, tend to be more abrasive than a scrubbing brush. Using steam to clean a leather sofa can be risky. To much heat and water can cause irreversible damage. Whilst steam kills germs and can dislodge some soiling, nothing does as good or safe a job as hand detailing.

Nothing does as good or safe a job as hand detailing

Leather Care Accessory Pack 4 Piece - Leather Hero
Simple accessories get the job done

Technique: Scrubbing ‘v’ Rubbing

The leather care industry is unanimous in its advice: Do Not Rub! A standard bristle brush helps to gently agitate soiling from the grain of the leather. We start gently, watching for any unwanted change in the finish. Extra care is needed when working on vintage sofas such as Chesterfields. The coatings may be unstable and simple cleaning can remove colour and finish. On most leathers, moderate scrubbing is safe and effective. In contrast, rubbing with firm force using a cloth clad finger or fist can be far more abrasive.

A few seconds of determined rubbing to remove a mark can result in the finish being stripped and an unwanted ‘bald patch’

The mark is gone and so is the finish. This was done using a cream cleanser and rubbing

Conditioning

After cleaning, to prevent drying and stiffening the professionals apply a non-greasy, non-shiny, non-darkening breathable leather conditioner. A good conditioner is penetrating so that it can be absorbed into the fibrous structure where it lubricates and moisturises. With regular use, this helps to promote suppleness and softness.

For most apparel, furniture and car applications, conditioners that are heavy in beeswax or oil are less appropriate as they may clog the pores, attract vermin or rot the fibres. Rich, waxy products can be ideal for achieving a high shine on a pair of boots or for a waxed leather lounge but care is needed before applying them to anilines or pigmented leather. Nubuck, suede and aniline leathers are highly porous. A conditioner that is rich in waxes or oils may cause darkening or leave white waxy marks. Your leather professional carries a range of conditioners and can identify the right one for your leather.

Protecting

The last step towards beautiful leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield to help keep your leather clean for longer. Helping to protect the leather from the uptake of spills, grease, transferred dye and stains, it’s a smart inclusion if you want to make light work of maintaining your upholstery.

Do It Yourself

A professional service every couple of years ensures your furniture has the best chance of looking great over many years. In between those services, you can clean and maintain the look and feel using Leather Hero’s professional-grade Leather Care Kit. It has the gear you need to clean, condition and protect your car, boat, office and home furnishings. Best suited to pigmented or ‘painted’ leather, you can trust that it will get the job safely and beautifully.

The essential combo that makes leather look amazing and last longer

There are many leather finishes and qualities so regardless of the instructions on the pack, it’s important to test and observe how your leather responds before proceeding with a full service. With wear and tear, topcoats can wear very thin. If you think the original topcoat has eroded because the colour is wearing away, it’s time to replace it. Leather Hero Topcoat (No.7) is quick and easy to apply and is best used in conjunction with the rest of the refinishing system.

If you have unfinished leather, the Leather Hero Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Kit will take care of it. Designed to gently clean and nourish without changing the natural appearance of this special type of leather. Unfinished leathers stain easily. Keep this kit on hand to quickly address new spills before stains are formed.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit with accessories- Leather Hero
The right solution for Nubuck, Suede and Aniline leathers

Waxed pull-up style leathers are very popular. They offer relaxed sophistication and age gracefully, especially when maintained with a gentle leather cleaner and rich waxy conditioner such as Leather Hero’s Waxy Care Kit.

You can restore a luxurious vintage glow to waxed leather with this buffable conditioner

When It’s Time To Recolour

If you have decided to recolour your leather, a stronger cleaner is needed. Spot & Prep (No.4) by Leather Hero has the power to remove waxes, silicones, heavy soiling, marks and surface grease. A thoroughly clean and prepared surface is key to a lasting leather finish.

Leather Spot Remover & Surface Prep 1L - Leather Hero
Before colouring it’s important to prepare the surface correctly using Leather Hero’s Spot & Prep (No.4)

Out Damned Spot

Before selecting leather care products, it’s a good idea to know your leather type and the issue you want to resolve.

Dirty

Pigmented leather
Surface soiling can be cleaned as shown in this half and half pic.

If the soiling and marks are on the surface of the leather or leather coatings, it’s dirty. This type of soiling cleans up well with a good leather cleaner such as Cleanse (No.1) or Spot & Prep (No.4) if you are recolouring.

Mouldy

Mould can be cleaned and it’s best to catch it early

If mould has grown on your leather, it is both on the surface and in the structure. Leather Hero’s Mould Remover (No.21) kills mould and mould spores and helps to prevent them from reforming. Free of bleach, chlorine, triclosan and peroxide, it is non-caustic and kills 99.9% of germs, including staphylococcus, e-coli and pseudomonas. If mould inhabits leather long enough, it can ‘eat’ into the coatings causing cloudy marks. This can also be corrected via recolouring.

Stained

Aniline leather
These stains are permanent. The lounge was recoloured to hide them.

If the mark has penetrated the structure of the leather or leather coatings, it’s stained. Most stains are permanent and can usually only be minimised with cleaning rather than completely removed. Stained areas can be restored via recolouring using a Leather Repair Kit.

Greasy

Body and hair oil sinks into leather. It’s difficult to remove so prevention is key

If the leather has darkened with an oily appearance, it may be greasy with hair and body oil that has penetrated through the structure. This compromises both the strength and aesthetics of leather. Cleaning with Spot & Prep (No.4) by Leather Hero may remove grease from the surface but cannot fully reach the oils that are within the fibres. Recolouring is possible but the oils tend to resurface in time.

The Method

Test

  1. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to test for compatibility. If the finish changes or transfers onto a cloth it is not stable and may be removed by cleaning. Unless recolouring is intended, it may be best not to proceed

Clean

  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Spray the cleaner directly onto the leather one small section at a time
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. During cleaning, if the cloth becomes very wet or heavily soiled change to a fresh one
  5. Repeat until clean
  6. Wipe over the area with a dampened clean or rinsed microfibre cloth

Condition

  1. Apply a tablespoon-sized amount of conditioner to a just dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated

Protect

  1. Apply by spray to one section at a time
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated
  3. Buff if desired
Leather upholstery is an investment worthy care

How Often To Clean

Consider how often we wipe down our kitchen benches and wash our clothes… Imagine going a month without doing either. Lounges and car seats in regular use gather soiling, spills and ‘human grime’ at the same pace as everything else we use daily.

A 1-3 monthly maintenance clean is recommended or more often in high traffic environments.  The more regularly you wipe over your leather, the quicker the job. Light and regular is infinitely better for leather than harsh spring cleaning or worse still, the one in 5 or 10 years clean. It ensures your furniture is always a joy to use and looks good too.

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How to restore scuffed Chelsea boots

Are your quality leather Chelsea boots scuffed and damaged? Whether it’s one too many whole-hearted rodeos or a season of free-roaming festivals or inner-city scuffs and bingles that have left their mark, this pro-grade restoration kit lets you restore the colour and lustre to your favourite riding boots with ease.

Success starts with the right colour

Kits are available in Black and RMW Chestnut. It is best to use a matching colour so that the new finish is harmonious with the original colour.

Prep, Colour & Polish

Follow these steps to transform your boots:

STEP 1:
Spray Spot & Prep (No.4) over one area of the leather
STEP 2:
Working quickly and using a soft scourer or brush, gently agitate the cleaning solution into the grain and crevices. Light pressure is ideal and if the scourer seems to abrasive, soften and flatten the fibres by rubbing it on a hard surface for a minute or two
STEP 3:
Lightly sand any scuffed areas to smooth the surface. If there are deep dents or loose tags, Leather Hero’s Fill (No.14) & Glue (No.16) (also available in a kit) can be used. Bond any tags using glue then fill, cure and smooth the dents. Note that a dash of Reboot Colour (No.24) can be added to the leather filler to create a tinted filling compound
STEP 4:
Pour some Reboot Colour onto an applicator sponge
STEP 5:
Using moderate pressure and even strokes, wipe the colour over the boots, one area at a time. Avoid any fabric components, contrast features, and branding tags by leaving a 1-2mm margin of leather uncoated. With light, even strokes, continue to coat the boots until all areas are evenly coated. Allow drying for around 30 minutes or use a hairdryer at 30cm to speed drying. Apply 2-3 coats of Reboot Colour or until you are satisfied with the coverage and finish. The heel and edges of the sole can also be coated if desired. Allow drying between each coat.
STEP 6:
To refine your colouring at the edges, try cutting the applicator sponge into quarters to create points. Use the tips to carefully coat the leather where it joins components you do not wish to colour. Apply a couple of coats to render an even and well-blended finish
STEP 7:
Dip a cotton tip or a fine paintbrush into the Reboot Colour then paint the crevices as needed. Leave the boots to dry for 24-48 hours before polishing
STEP 8:
Apply a very small amount of polish to a sponge
STEP 9:
Spread the polish over the leather upper and the outer heel (not the sole). Once the polish is on the boots, stop wiping and allow it to ‘set’ for a few minutes. It will have a matte finish when set
STEP 10:
Use a lint free cloth to buff and polish the treated areas

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Beautiful! These trusty boots are looking good and are ready for their next adventure

Reboot offers a durable finish that can restore the scuffs and scrapes on your favourite boots bringing them back to their impressive best. More durable than polish, it actually allows you to replace coatings that have been worn away Even after years of wear and tear, your boots can still look beautifully maintained and continue to turn heads.

Even weathered and worn-in riding boots can be refinished to conceal scuffs and scratches
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How to tackle complex leather repairs

In truth, there’s more than one way to tackle complex leather repairs. In this guide, we will show you the method that we used to repair a large star-shaped tear.

Let’s face it; accidents happen. Pets, moving, children and all manner of other situations can lead to leather damage. Left unrepaired, rips can deteriorate making a bad situation worse. Thankfully, it is possible to not only slow further damage but also to completely conceal it with a well-executed repair.

The repair process

There are 4 main steps to a repair:

  1. Clean and prep the surface – remove any silicons, waxes, oils, and soiling that may prevent optimal adhesion
  2. Anchor the edges of the tear
  3. Fill and smooth any remaining gaps and surface irregularities then texturise to mimic leather grain
  4. Refinish – recolour to blend with the surrounding areas

Equipment

Here are the tools we used to repair the multi-directional tear on the rear panel of a Chesterfield sofa.

BEFORE

Measuring approximately 10cm x 10cm x 2cm the damage included a 3-way tear, surface scuffing and missing foam padding.

Our repair method

STEP 1

Clean the area thoroughly using Spot & Prep (No.4). It is important to remove any factors that might compromise adhesion.

Replace any missing padding.

Anchor the tear into position with stitching. This can provide the strongest foundation for repairs especially when the leather is torn in multiple directions. Pierce holes in the leather first to make stitching easier. Use a curved upholstery needle and strong thread.

STEP 2

Stitching is complete. This was not a load bearing repair so a few stitches were enough. In a load bearing location, more stitching may be prudent.

Optional: We did not use a sub-patch on this job but it can be helpful when the leather needs stabilisation from behind. Glue it in place at the edges. Suitable sub-patches include, leather, vinyl, mesh, silk or interfacing.

STEP 3

Apply some leather glue into the gaps and allow it to dry. Some of the glue will seep behind and between the edges further reinforcing the join. Repeat as needed.

Using a palette knife, lay in the first thin layer of leather filler. Don’t try to fill the gaps fully. Apply pressure to push this first layer into the gaps.

Allow the filler to dry. A hair dryer can be used to speed the drying process.

STEP 4

Using a sponge or palette knife, commence building thin layers of filler to cover the tear and stitching. Experiment with wiping, scraping and dabbing methods of application.

Tinting the filler with colour is optional. It can make it easier to achieve coverage when finishing and is less aesthetically jarring should another scuff occur to the same area in the future (Let’s hope not!).

STEP 5

Continue applying coats of filler, allowing drying time between each coat.

As coverage builds, try going back to using a palette knife and white filler to more easily locate the troughs. For the next couple of applications, concentrate on filling the pits to level the repair site.

STEP 6

Sand to smooth and highlights any low spots or bumps. Run your hand over the area to detect any unwanted irregularities.

Hand sanding using 400 – 600 grit sandpaper or an electric palm sander with 120 – 240 grit pads is ideal for a job like this, where the leather is flat and taught.

STEP 7

When you are satisfied that the repair is adequately filled and smoothed, apply a final layer of tinted leather filler using a stippling motion to texturise the area.

Allow drying. Sand by hand (not machine) to render a smooth grain effect that is ready for finishing.

STEP 8

It’s time to add colour to hide the repair! Using your leather repair & repair kit, first, apply leather primer, then a few coats of matching colour. Allow drying between coats. When the colour is completely dry (after a few days), apply 2 coats of matching clear topcoat. Blend the new coatings with the original to achieve a seamless result.

AFTER

The final result! Chesterfields are two-toned. An antiquing effect was applied to match the surrounding areas. This repair will last as long as the lounge lasts or longer (or until another major bingle occurs). It blends well and along with other repairs has helped to save the entire lounge suite from the scrap heap.

The finished lounge suite.

Tips for using leather filler

  • Filler is laid down in very thin layers. Each layer must be dry before applying the next. This is the slowest part of any repair and requires the most patience
  • Drying can be overnight or assisted by sunshine or a hairdryer. Filler is dry when it sands well. If it balls or crumbles when sanding, it’s not dry yet
  • Filler can be tinted using a small amount of leather paint or dye (depending on your job)

Factors that affect repair results & durability

  • THE LOCATION of a tear or rip may influence the durability of a repair. If the tear is in a non-load-bearing location, repairs can be extremely successful and remain intact indefinitely. If the tear is in a load-bearing location, the performance of the repair is less easily predicted
  • THE CONSTRUCTION of the piece can impact the ease of repair. If the leather is stretched taught, repairing can be easier than when it is baggy or loose
  • THE CONDITION of your leather has a direct impact on the ease and durability of a repair. If leather is strong and intact, results can be very satisfying and the repair may deliver excellent longevity. If the leather is a highly compromised state (thin, strained, damaged, oilyThe The or brittle), pleasing results may be achievable but, the leather may lack the integrity to hold the repair

Sometimes, the best possible outcome is that the damage is repaired so that the chair or lounge good again but is placed in a location where it is no longer used as seating.

A bit of DIY ‘magic’

Repairing is merely a process. There is nothing ‘magic’ about it. Instead, it is a matter of securing open edges, filling pits and troughs, building coverage, refining, and smoothing, and finally, concealing the damage with professional-grade leather finishing products until it blends well.

When you look at a large tear in leather, it’s easy to think that it’s all over; that the sofa cannot be rescued. However, with some patience and the right materials, incredibly satisfying results can be achieved.

For lots more information about leather repairing, leather finishing and which products are best for your job, visit https://leatherhero.com.au/resources/

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Choosing a leather protector

Your gorgeous new white sofa has arrived and you are in loooooove with it. You purchase a glamorous new suede handbag and urgently move out of your old bag and into the mint-condition new one. You buy some nubuck boots and want to take steps to prevent stains as soon as possible. Your 2 new aniline armchairs are the most lux furniture you’ve ever owned. You promise you’ll do the leather care to keep them looking that way. The intent is there, but often, we forget to follow through or don’t know what to do. In this guide, we will explore the difference between leather protector and leather water repellent, explain their uses and identify the ideal application schedule to ensure ongoing benefits for your leather.

A white leather car interior only looks good when clean. Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) helps to keep it that way

Leather Protector ‘v’ leather Water Repellent

Leather Hero leather protector is a wipe-on cream protector that provides an invisible shield on the surface of the leather. Leather Hero leather water repellent bonds to leather fibres, slowing the penetration of liquids.

Let’s look at the features and uses for the 2 products:

PROTECT (No.3)WATER REPELLENT (No.23)
FEATURES
Inhibits dirt and grime from sticking to leather
Slows the penetration of dirt, oils, ink, spills and transferred dye into
leather or leather coatings
Makes cleaning easier
Nourishes leather
Slows liquid penetration
BEST FORFurniture, sofas, chairs
Leather & vinyl car interiors
Apparel
Vinyl & Faux leather
Boots & other footwear
All weather apparel
Saddles
Leather that is exposed to liquids
Fabrics
Carpets
LEATHER TYPESMost pigmented (painted), nubuck, suede, aniline & semi-aniline leathers*Most pigmented (painted), nubuck, suede, aniline & semi-aniline leathers. Most fabrics and carpets*
SCHEDULE3 monthly or as needed 3 monthly or as needed
APPLICATIONPour cream onto clean just-damp microfibre cloth & wipe evenly over surfaceSpray and wipe evenly over the surface using a sponge and allow drying before use
*Always test in an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility with your unique leather. Reapply more often when traffic and usage is high.

Why leather protection is important

The use of a leather protector can be a lifesaver in cars, on boats, apparel, bags, and on all types of leather furnishings such as lounges, armchairs, dining chairs, ottomans, and bar stools. Making cleaning much easier and helping to avoid marks and stains, leather protection is smart insurance for both the good looks and health of your leather.

White leather gets no dirtier than other colours but the soiling shows much more easily. For this reason, many people think its the best colour to own. With a regular care regime in place including the use of Protect (No.3) it’s possible to enjoy hygienically and aesthetically clean leather. The leather and coatings, in turn, are also likely to remain robust and intact for longer.

In contrast, whilst soiling is less visible on dark coloured leathers, we are lulled into a false sense of satisfaction. We cannot see the dirt and servicing tends to occur less regularly. Typically, such furniture is coated in grime but we don’t realise it. Instead, after a few years we suddenly notice that the surface is cracking, peeling and flaking. The soiling (a film of body oil, skin cream, food grime, perspiration, pet grime and dirt) has damaged the finish (topcoats and colour coatings) which has broken down and lost adhesion.

The finish on this sofa has been undermined by years of neglect. Leather protection in combination with cleaning and conditioning helps to reduce the unwelcome effects of body & hair oil, perspiration and grime on leather and leather coatings

No matter the colour, soiling happens. However, with the use of leather protection, that soiling can be reduced making cleaning easier, helping to prevent stains and extend the life of leather.

Extract care for nubuck, suede, and aniline leathers

There is great love out there fore the natural, earthy, timeless appeal of unfinished leathers. From sofas, to handbags, jackets to armchairs, dining chairs to footwear, and did we mentions sofas? They look and feel beautiful, blending perfectly in both classic and cotemporary settings.

For all that style, however, there is a practicality trade-off. These leathers are ‘unfinished’ meaning, they have no or little protective colour or top-coatings on the surface (semi-anilines have light coatings). Therefore their beauty and vulnerability go hand in hand.

The porous nature of this unprotected leather has allowed hair and body oil to penetrate into the structure of the leather.

This is where leather protection can be the hero that saves the day. By regularly servicing these leathers with a leather cleaner, conditioner and leather protection treatment, permanent stains can be minimised. Providing an invisible shield Protect (No.3), slows the penetration of the agents that cause marks and stains. It’s important the invisible shield is consistently maintained for full protection to be in place.

Leathers that are dyed may fade in high UV environments. A leather protector that contains a UV barrier can help to slow or prevent fading. This can make a significant difference for nubuck, suede, aniline and semi-aniline leathers in bright homes.

There are many makers of leather creating a wide array of finishes and styles. Always test products in an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with your leather.

Leather Water Repellent

It can be difficult to avoid water coming in contact with leather, especially when outdoors. Whether it be rain, snow, spills or splashes, Water Repellent (No.23) helps to slow the penetration of liquids, thereby helping to avoid water marks and the consequences of overly wet leather.

Love jumping in puddles?

Water is not really wet but rather, it makes solid materials wet. This happens when the water is able to adhere and then penetrate or sink into the material. When leather becomes wet, oils in the leather bind to the water molecules. As the water evapourate, it takes the lubricating oils with it, rendering the leather dry, stiff and brittle. Rips and tears tend to follow. The occasional spill that is quickly wiped or exposure to a few raindrops generally does no harm. However, a good soaking or many spills that are not wiped immediately can be the beginning of the end for leather.

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Choosing the right leather conditioner

Soft, supple leather offers a unique sensory experience. It is both strong and yielding at the same time. Warm to touch, smooth yet textured, there is nothing quite like leather. It’s also low maintenance but certainly not, no maintenance. Over time, especially in the absence of regular care, leather can become dry, brittle and cracked. A quality leather conditioner can help to maintain the luxurious qualities of leather and prevent dryness and other related problems.

These chairs have a matte finish. A conditioner that doesn’t render shine is needed to maintain the matte aesthetic

Different conditioners for different leathers

As there are a few different types of leather and leather finishing, there are also various types of leather conditioners. Each one has different properties and is designed to enhance the desirable qualities of each leather type. Selecting the most appropriate conditioner for your leather will help to ensure satisfying results and the best of care for your leather.

Choosing the right leather conditioner

It’s not a matter of which one is the best leather conditioner, but rather which is the best conditioner for your type of leather. Let’s look at Leather Hero’s 4 conditioners:

PRODUCTPURPOSE DESCRIPTIONCOMMENTS
Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Nourish (No.11)Regular care after cleaningLight conditioner designed to nourish nubuck, suede, aniline & semi-aniline leathers without changing the look of the leather, eg; unwanted darkening or additional shine. (Note, heavy/oily conditioners can permanently darken the colour of unfinished leathers & waxy conditioners can add unwanted shine). Non-greasyCan be used on dull-waxed leathers to avoid unwanted shine. Can be safely used on all types but other conditioners are more appropriate for other types. Apply 3 monthly
Nourish (No.2) Regular care after cleaningA balanced conditioner designed to nourish pigmented (coated/painted leathers). Non-greasy, non-dust-attracting & non-shiny. Leaves a soft sheen & silky hand (touch). Great general purpose leather conditioner that suits most applications. Appropriate for all finished (pigmented) furniture & all car interiors. Ideal for use on man-made substrates such as vinyl and faux leather as well as waxed & many semi-aniline leathers. Apply 3 monthly
Waxy Nourish (No.9)Regular care after cleaningNatural waxy conditioner designed for nourishing high shine waxed leathers. Easy to buff, it renders an appealing natural-looking lux shine typical to classic cigar chair & chesterfield styles. Lends a degree of water repellence. Non-greasyCan be used on other leather types when a rich, natural shine is desired. Apply 3 monthly
Softener (No.22)TreatmentSpecialist leather softening cream designed to soften leather that has become stiff & lost supple qualities. Contains natural plant-derived waxes. Non-greasy & non-shinyInitially, repeat application 2 or 3 times then apply once a year as a treatment. Ideal for sofas and car interiors. Can be used on most leathers
Suede has no coatings. It requires a conditioner that won’t cause darkening, shine or flatten the nap of the leather

In summary

What type of leather do you have?

What do you need from your leather conditioner?

General care for cars, pigmented sofas & apparelNourish (No.2)
Maximum shine & a degree of water repellenceWaxy Nourish (No.9)
General care for nubuck, suede or aniline leatherNubuck, Suede & Aniline Nourish (No.11)
Maximum softening effectSoftener (No.22)
Nourish (No.2) is the ideal conditioner for caring your leather car interior

A few rules to follow

Before using a leather conditioner, follow these steps:

Clean first

Always clean before conditioning. Invisible dirt (body oils and perspiration) are typically the most damaging factors that affect to health, appearance, and longevity of leather. It is the job of a cleaner to remove them as well as the dirt you can see. It is the job of a conditioner to penetrate into the structure of your leather where it lubricates the fibres, adds moisture and nourishing emollients, and leaves an appealing look and feel on the surface. Note; conditioners do not improve colour problems or remove stains.

Test

There are many variables with leather; different makers, different finishes, different grades of leather, different states of wear and tear to name a few. Before proceeding with a service, it’s wise to do a quick test of the leather conditioner in an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility with your unique leather. Having been scientifically developed and tested and widely used in the marketplace, the products are known to be broadly compatible with most substrates. However, your leather may be atypical. Check for any unwanted changes, such as darkening, shine or other effects before proceeding.

Reapply

Reapply on a 3 monthly schedule as part of your leather care regime.

Waxy Nourish (No.9) produced a desirable natural shine on this much loved old saddle.

The value of leather care

Leather that receives correct care last around 3 times longer. With regular servicing, the work is light and easy. It’s fair to say that when left longer, the job becomes a bit more daunting. Light and regular is the key!

Leather care is about keeping that lush showroom look and feel for as long as possible. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a clean, soft sofa or a well-maintained car interior? It’s also about ensuring you benefit from sanitry clean surfaces. Cleaning and conditioning go hand-in-hand when it comes to extending the good looks, pleasant feel and overall longevity of your leather assets.

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Choosing the right leather cleaner

Leather is luxury; it is robust and durable. It is so durable that we can be lulled into thinking that it doesn’t require any maintenance and will remain beautiful forever. Yet, just like everything that we touch and use on a daily basis, it gathers grime, oils and perspiration from our skin, dust from the air, and marks and stains from spills and other accidents. Choosing the right leather cleaner for your job helps to ensure a great result that cares for your leather.

Different cleaners for different jobs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all leather cleaner that is safe and effective for use on all leathers. It is important to use the correct cleaner for your leather type and your purpose. A mild cleaner may be safe to use on all leather types but would be less effective in some situations. For example, a mild cleaner would not be suitable for preparing leather for recolouring. A strong cleaner may be too strong for some leathers. It could cause unwanted coatings disturbance.

Cleanse (No.1) did a great job on this soiled leather sofa. It is an ideal leather sofa cleaner (for pigmented leather)

Choosing the right cleaner

You might be wondering how to clean dirty leather. It all starts with choosing the right leather cleaner for your job. Let’s look at a few cleaners to get a better understanding of their correct applications.

PRODUCTPURPOSEDESCRIPTIONCOMMENTS
Nubuck, Suede &
Aniline Cleanse (No.10)
Regular care & accidental
spills
Mild cleaner suitable for unfinished (uncoated) leathers. Use immediately when spills happen to avoid permanent stainsCan be used on all types but less effective therefore less suitable on other leather types. Old stains may not be removed but may soften in appearance with regular ongoing maintenance (cleaning & conditioning). Not suitable for pre-repair or recolouring cleaning. Always clean before conditioning
Cleanse (No.1)Regular care & accidental spillsA maintenance strength cleaner for use on pigmented (painted) leather such as car seats, & pigmented sofas, apparel & bags. Compatible with pigmented leathers & most man-made leathers (vinyls & faux). Not suitable for pre-repair or recolouring cleaning. Always clean before conditioning
Spot & Prep (No.4)Stubborn spot cleaning & surface prep before repairing or recolouringA strong leather cleaner for use when repairing or recolouring leather. Can be used for spot cleaning and spring cleaning. (Test before use as weaker coatings may be disturbed by strong cleaners)Best for pre-colouring cleaning & surface prep. If using for spot or spring cleaning, note that it can flatten shine so use a leather conditioner to restore a pleasing luster and hand (touch). Not suitable for regular maintenance cleaning
Dye Remover (No.15)Can remove fresh transferred dye stains from pigmented leathersA specialist cleaner for removing dyes from clothing, print, hair colourants & other dyes from the surface of pigmented leatherBest results are achieved when the dye is removed before it has penetrated into the topcoat or colour coatings. Porous coatings may absorb the dye, making removal difficult. Keep this cleaner on hand especially if you have white or light coloured leather and wear dark blue or black clothing or throw rugs and cushions. Always condition after cleaning
Ink Stick (No.17)Can remove fresh ink from pigmented leatherA specialist cleaner for removing ink from leather. (Test before use as weaker coatings & some dyes may be disturbed by this cleaner)Best results are achieved when the ink is removed before it has penetrated into the topcoat or colour coatings. Porous coatings may absorb the ink, making removal difficult. Keep this cleaner on hand for when accidents happen. Always condition after cleaning
Mould Remover (No.21)Remove and inhibit mould and mildew infestations in leatherA specialist cleaner for controlling mould in and on leather. Apply generously and allow to penetrate before conditioning the leatherUse before and after placing furniture and apparel into storage and as needed at other times. If possible, manage mould-friendly conditions. In rare cases, well-established, long-term mould colonies can eat into the coatings making them look ‘frosted’. Recolouring can resolve this minor surface issue. Always condition after cleaning or treating mould

Inks and dyes

Inks and dyes are made from seriously potent stuff. They are designed to pack a strong colour punch and be permanent and are therefore, not something you want on your precious leather. Specialist cleaners such as Dye Remover and Ink Stick work wonders when cleaning stains for leather and are best kept on hand for when accidents happen as time is of the essence. Once penetrated, the stain may be indelible and recolouring may be the best option.

Ink Stick - Leather Hero
The ink is removed quickly and easily using Ink Stick (No.17)

Cleaning regimes

Leather responds best to light and regular servicing. Depending on your usage, this might be once a month or once every 3 months or so. Once a year is definitely not often enough in most environments. Remember, it’s the soiling you can’t see that does the most damage to your leather. That’s body and hair oil together with perspiration. The places you touch are the areas that most need regular care.

Harsh cleaning can do more damage than good. Avoid machine (steam cleaning) and stick to cleaning that you can watch and control as you go. Leather that is correctly maintained lasts around 3 times longer and looks a great deal better than leather that receives no care at all.

This white leather lounge was overdue for a thorough service. Spot & Prep (No.4) cleaned away heavy grime. A conditioner was used to restore a pleasing look and feel to the leather after this much-needed spring clean. Note that the coatings on this lounge were good quality and in robust condition and therefore able to take strong cleaning. Spot and Prep is not suitable for regular maintenance cleaning. Test before using.

Leather accessories

Routine maintenance using the correct cleaner and conditioner, along with a soft bristle brush and white microfibre cloth is all the equipment needed to produce optimum results.

Cleaning Mould

When cleaning mould, have lots of cloths on hand. Use half of them to clean the mould off and the other half to ‘rinse’. The aim is to remove mould spores ensuring that you last wipe-over is with a clean cloth carrying a generous amount of Mould Remover. Lauder the cloths well or discard them in a sealed bag.

Mould thrives in warm, high humidity environments where there’s a good source of organic matter (grime from our hands) and a fibrous home to colonise. Mould Remover kills mould spores and inhibits further infestations.

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How to use Leather Filler

What is Leather Filler?

Leather Hero leather filler (Fill No.14) is a flexible, sandable, water-based, air-drying compound with excellent adhesion properties for filling surface imperfections in leather. It has a white base and comes in a variety of colours.

Compatability

It is designed to be used under leather paint to create discreet repairs and surface corrections. Due to its opaque qualities, it is suitable for use under opaque finishes and not generally suitable for use under transparent finishes.

Suitable ForNot or Less Suitable For
Finishing SystemLeather Paint (Colour No.6)Aniline Dyes & Stains (No.)
Leather Repair KitsAniline Dye & Colour Restoration Kit (No.)
Topcoat (clear coating only)
Leather TypePigmented Nubuck
Man-made leatherSuede
Aniline
Semi-aniline

Types of filling

There are 2 main occassions to use leather filler:

  1. Rips and tears: when accidents happen (scissors, knives etc) or when a tear occurs in weakened leather
  2. Surface corrections: when the surface has imperfections such as delamination, scuffs, scratches and other such textural irregularities

In this guide, we will focus on the second type of usage as it is the most common.

The finish on these seats is delaminating, making them look old and worn

How to use Leather Filler

Good surface prep is an important part of successful results, including filled repairs.

  1. Clean the leather surface with Spot & Prep (No.4)
  2. Glue closed any loose tags or open tears with Glue (No.16) and allow drying. Repeat until glueing is completed
  3. At this stage and throughout the process, you can sand to smooth the area using a 400-800 grit sandpaper
  4. Load some filler onto the back of a palette knife then drag the knife on a 20-45 degree angle across the repair area, pressing firmly and evenly so that a neat, thin layer of filler is deposited. Allow drying
  5. When dry, the filler can be sanded to smooth the area
  6. Continue applying Fill (No.14) in thin layers until the repair or surface imperfections are filled and smooth

Optional steps

  • Apply leather Binder (No.33) before applying Fill (No.14) to stabilise loose, flaking, open and porous leather. It can be sanded, helping to seal and smooth a rough and unstable surface before filling
  • Mix around 10% Leather Paint (Colour No.6) into white Leather Filler to tint it
  • Apply a final layer of filler and texturise by dabbing with a sponge to stipple the surface to mimic leather grain
  • Insert a sub-patch behind a tear. Use a palette knife or similar to flatten the patch so that it lies flat under the leather. Use Leather Glue (Glue No.16) to join a small margin of leather around the tear to the backing patch then apply more glue to join the edges of the tear back together. When the glue is cured, apply Fill (No.15) as described previously.
    • Suitable sub-patch materials include leather, vinyl, mesh, interfacing or fabric

Here we track the progress of a lounge restoration from worn and delaminated to fully refinished and vastly improved.

1) Before: Delamination
2) Cleaned and sanded
3) 2 coats of Binder (No.33)
4) Mix of Fill (No.15) and Colour (No.6)
5) Blended to create a tinted filler
6) Applying filler
7) Firm and even pressure
8) Filling in layers
9) Refinish using Prime (No.5), Colour (No.6) and Topcoat (No.7)

Troubleshooting

  • Leather filler is not designed for rebuilding missing leather. Using a patch then filling to cosmetically improve the joins is preferable to attempting to lay in large areas of filler
  • Oil in leather prevents coatings and compounds from forming a bond. If your leather is very oily, it may appear dark in colour and soggy or spongey to touch
  • Filler that it applied too thickly, may not cure. Thin layers are recommended
  • Filler that is not dry, may not sand well. Allow to cure properly then, when cured, sand as needed
  • Repaired area looks smooth. This is normal where a lot of filler has been used or when the grain is smooth. Try stippling to mimic leather grain if needed
  • Repaired area feels a little stiffer than the surrounding leather. Depending on the size of the repair, this can be the case. Cured repairs may relax as the leather flexes with use

What to expect

Leather Filler (Fill (No.14) can produce very rewarding repairs. When an accidental tear happens in leather that is in good condition, a carefully glued, filled and refinished repair can conceal virtually all evidence of the tear. When leather is aged and no longer in great condition, filling can soften textural imperfections to improve the surface before refinishing.

This Before and After comparison clearly shows a dramatic improvement in the appearance of the leather upholstery

When it comes to rips and tears, perfectly undetectable repairs are possible but rare. In contrast, results that deliver significantly improved outcomes are common and perfectly achievable in most cases. With older leather, when you aim for an overall improvement in the look and feel of your leather as well as an extension of the usable life of your upholstery, handbag or car seats, a lot can be achieved.

The finished result was very impressive and extremely rewarding

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A jacket like no other

Leather jackets come in many styles; from high fashion to seasonal fashion, motorcycle to op-shop and custom made specials. But if you want one that really stands out from the crowd, why not embellish yours with personalised hand-painted or commissioned artworks?

Here’s one of our commissioned jackets. Step by step, we transformed a smart ladies motorbike jacket into a very beautiful, one of a kind functional artwork. We used just 6 colours (ochre, magenta, blue, scarlet, rust and yellow) plus black and white to create it.

STEP 1:
Consider your canvas. How much space do you have? What composition will works well? Where are the stitching lines and how can you make them work with your design?
STEP 2:
Use Leather Hero Spot & Prep (No.4) to clean the artwork area. A soft scrubbing brush can be used to agitate the prep solution into the grain. Wipe with a lint free cloth
STEP 3:
Etch the surface of the leather using fine sandpaper (800 grit)
STEP 4:
Apply Prime (No.5) with a paintbrush or sponge to the area you intend to paint
STEP 5:
Rough in your design
STEP 6:
If your jacket is a dark colour, paint a white foundation for your artwork. One to two coats should do it
STEP 7:
Paint in the main shapes and colours
STEP 8:
Use black or another dark colour to begin defining the design
STEP 9:
Add details and refine shapes. Make adjustments, corrections and changes as needed
STEP 10:
Redefine any lines that have been over painted. Balance the colours and refine shapes
STEP 11:
Add detailing. When you are done, use Spot & Prep (No.4) to clean up any little dots of colour that may have splashed onto the leather. Alternatively, use black paint to paint over them!
STEP 12:
When you artwork is finished and dry, give it 2 coats of clear topcoat to seal and protect your masterpiece

And you are done!

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Choosing The Right Topcoat

The job of a topcoat is to ‘seal’ and protect the colour coatings. Topcoats act as a physical barrier between the leather and damaging factors such as body oil, perspiration, soiling and abrasion. They have additional physical properties that lend rub resistance and thereby help to slow colour wear. They also provide a degree of water resistance.

Professional grade topcoats are beautiful to touch, soft and flexible. They deliver a desirable ‘finished’ look that resembles a tannery finish.

A satin topcoat was used to protect this soft, quilted aniline leather jacket

Topcoat Basics

PURPOSECOMPOSITIONCHARACTERISTICSUSABILITY
Seal & protect the colour
Protect the leather
ResinsSoft to touch
Flexible
Durable
Abrasion resistant
Transparent
Water-based
Sponge or spray on
Non-toxic
Fast drying
Self leveling
Variable gloss levels
Low to no odour
Can be tinted
Can be dulled

As wear and tear take their toll over time, the manufacturer’s original topcoat can wear thin or become compromised. Refreshing the colour coatings and replacing the worn topcoat can go a long way to extending the life of your leather whilst also making it look much, much better.

Leather Hero Topcoat (No.7) in Matte, Satin, Gloss and High Gloss finish

Level of Sheen

Topcoats can increase or decrease the level of gloss you see. It is best to match the sheen of your colourant to the sheen of your topcoat ( or vice versa). Leather Hero pigments (paints) can be ‘flattened’ using Dulling Agent (No.30).

Getting the right colour is important. Equally important is getting the right level of sheen for your topcoat. Here is an overview of Leather Hero’s 4 Topcoats

MATTESATINGLOSSHIGH GLOSS
SHEENExtra flatSoft & subtleModerate glossVery shiny
APPLYBest by spray.
Can also use
sponge or brush
Sponge, brush
or spray
Sponge, brush
or spray
Sponge, brush
or spray
USESModern cars,
some sofas
Most common
for all applications
Not often used
on cars or sofas
(except some Chesterfields)
Some handbags
& shoes. Rarely
used on furnishings
OPTICSCan make
colours seem lighter
Balanced Can highlight
textural features &
imperfections
Can highlight
textural features & imperfections

If in doubt, Satin Topcoat

is usually a safe choice

Not sure which topcoat is right for your job? Start with a small bottle to test first.

A glossy finish on this piece of leather helps to highlight the beautiful textural markings
Topcoats, from Matte to High Gloss, absorb and reflect light
Here, a glossy topcoat has been used to draw the eye to embossed features

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How To Restore A Black Leather Jacket

Some loyalties go on and on. If you have a faithful, beautiful, timeless, designer or knock-about black leather jacket that needs some love, here’s a step-by-step guide to restoring it. Banish scuffs, marks, fading and general surface wear and give your favourite leather jacket a new lease on life.

Black Jacket Reviver (No.18)

This intense potion is a black restoring cream that coats leather with colour and finish. It boosts faded blacks, covers minor scratches and scuffs and leaves a protective coating. Easy to apply, fast-drying, sheer or nearly complete coverage, it’s ideal for replenishing and reintensifying your black leather apparel and accessories. Use it on your black leather jacket and handbags.

Black Jacket Reviver Kit - Leather Hero
Super simple. Just 2 steps to go from shabby to sharp

UV fading has bleached the colour from this jacket

“Thanks heaps – I love this jacket but have been annoyed at the fading for years…Really appreciate such a great product :)”

Kat C

Method

Clean & Prepare the surface

STEP 1
Spray Cleanse (No.1) onto one area at a time. Spot & Prep (No.4) can also be used on most leathers. Do a test area before proceeding
STEP 2
If the leather is soiled, gently agitate the cleaner into the grain using a soft bristle brush or scourer – don’t rub. If the scourer seems too course, rub it on hard surface to flatten and soften the fibres. Treat delicate leathers with care
STEP 3
Wipe clean with a cloth and allow to dry
STEP 4
If there are any scuffs or damaged areas, lightly sand to remove any loose matter and smooth the area. This step also opens the pores of the leather which can help to improve the penetration and adhesion of the products. Use a cloth to wipe away any sanding dust

Restore Colour

STEP 5
Pour some Black Jacket Reviver (No.18) on to an applicator sponge
STEP 6
Using moderate pressure and even strokes, apply to one area at a time. Complete one side then flip the coat and do the reverse side.
Continue until all areas are coated. Allow drying. You can use a hairdryer at 30cm to speed up drying
  1. Apply additional coats as needed. One coat gives a sheer makeover, several coats give a complete colour refresh
  2. Clean up any metal parts using a cloth and the cleaner
  3. When dry, buff lightly using a microfibre cloth
  4. Allow 48 hours before conditioning the leather

“Wow – I have just used the repair kit to restore a much loved leather jacket. So quick, easy and I am amazed at how the jacket looks like new. Could not be happier with the product”

Michelle S

Tips

  • Tape up the edge of the lining and metal parts with masking tape to avoid over-painting
  • Protect the workspace because Black Jacket Reviver (No.18) carries a potent colour punch

Not Just Jackets

Jackets, handbags, footwear, belts and pretty much any black leather or vinyl accessories can be given a colour boost using Black Jacket Reviver (No.18.