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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

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 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.


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 was 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 furniture recolours of 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 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. When the tear is in a load-bearing area (seat cushion) and the leather is in damaged condition, repair durability can be compromised.

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


  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


  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


  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


  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 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.


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

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)


  • 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, sanding is possible
  • 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. This is normal. 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.

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?
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
Etch the surface of the leather using fine sandpaper (800 grit)
Apply Prime (No.5) with a paintbrush or sponge to the area you intend to paint
Rough in your design
If your jacket is a dark colour, paint a white foundation for your artwork. One to two coats should do it
Paint in the main shapes and colours
Use black or another dark colour to begin defining the design
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

Seal & protect the colour
Protect the leather
ResinsSoft to touch
Abrasion resistant
Sponge or spray on
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

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 &
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


Clean & Prepare the surface

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
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
Wipe clean with a cloth and allow to dry
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

Pour some Black Jacket Reviver (No.18) on to an applicator sponge
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


  • 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.

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How to Clean & Condition Aniline Leather

Anilines are often considered the finest of all leathers. They are soft, supple, warm to touch and are naturally beautiful. Usually, full-grain, they are strong and display natural markings including pores, wrinkles and even, minor scars. With minimal or no coatings on the surface, they are also vulnerable to stains. Accidents can happen and normal use over time takes its toll. But with the right strategies, this leather can age very gracefully and with character.


With aniline leather, every bit of grime that hits the surface penetrates into the structure of the leather. Putting a few strategies in place to minimise spills and to catch everyday soiling can be the smart approach.

…you don’t want to wrap your designer couch in cling film just to avoid stains!

We know you don’t want to wrap your designer couch in cling film just to avoid stains – and, it’s entirely up to you to decide – but here are some ideas to consider:

  • Protect the headrests and armrests from the impact of hair and body oil using decorative throw rugs. Permanent greasy marks can develop when oils penetrate into the leather
  • During the day, lay down a sheet or throw rugs to catch the kids handiwork
  • Keep pens, textas, slime and nail polish as far away as possible – like, on another planet!
  • Make the sofa a no-food zone. Greasy hands and spills will leave permanent marks
  • Implement a ‘Shirts On’ rule. Bare skin = body oil and perspiration = stains
  • Place throw rugs strategically to protect the sofa during the day and remove them in the evening when the family have had showers and are nice and clean
  • Keep pets off the sofa but if you want them up there with you, consider placing a plush pet bed on the sofa for them to use
  • Keep Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) on hand to treat spills immediately
  • Maintain a regular schedule of maintenance that contributes some protective benefits
  • Unfriend everyone you know who drinks red wine, tea or coffee….kidding

OK, we know for most people, these ideas are a bit over the top but for those of you who want to do everything you can to protect your sofa, they are worth considering. These concepts apply equally to aniline leather handbags, footwear and apparel. When it comes to aniline furniture and apparel, beware dark denim. The dyes can transfer from your jeans to your jacket and once set-in, may not be removable.

When oil soaks into aniline leather, it’s difficult to remove

Regular Cleaning Beats Extreme Cleaning

More than any other type of leather, anilines will thank you for a regular maintenance schedule. A once a year special will not do much to nurture or clean your aniline leather. After a year of absorbing soiling, the damage is largely, done.

A 3 monthly service is recommended and, if you have a busy home, more often may be ideal. Service apparel and accessories at the beginning and end of the season and more often if they are in everyday use.

When cleaning is regular, it’s quick and easy to do. Integrate a lounge wipe over with a lightly dampened cloth into your regular cleaning schedule then, every 3 months or so, use the right products to give them a thorough service.



  1. Start with Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Care Kit. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to assess compatibility with your leather. If there are any unwanted changes, do not proceed


  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Pour the cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth or spray it directly onto the leather one section at a time. It will be absorbed quickly, so…
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
  5. Repeat if needed


  1. Pour conditioner to a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Pour onto a lightly dampened cloth or spray over one section at a time
  2. Working quickly, wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Repeat every 3 months or more frequently in busy environments
  2. Have products on hand to tackle accidental spills and marks


Aniline leathers are porous with an open fibrous structure. They easily absorb cleaners and conditioners. Avoid general purpose leather cleaners, homemade recipes and household cleaners. Instead, opt for one that is formulated for unfinished leathers.

Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) is a mild, non-toxic, water-based, cleaner suitable for aniline leather. It gently removes dirt and is mild enough to avoid damaging the leather.

Most marks on aniline leather quickly become permanent stains. When cleaning, you won’t see them magically disappear. However, with regular cleaning, marks tend to soften in appearance, blending in a more aesthetically pleasing way over time.

The cleaner absorbs quickly and may not leave much soiling or residue on the cloth. This can be frustrating because you may feel that nothing is happening. But rest assured, this process helps to remove the soiling you can see and soiling you can’t see, thereby maintaining the health of your leather. With regular cleaning, marks or stains can soften over time.

Prada bag
Protect aniline leather designer accessories with regular care using products formulated for unfinished leathers

Accidents & Spills

Keep a suitable leather cleaner on hand for accidents and spills and treat them immediately. Use a blotting technique to draw the unwanted liquid or contaminant from the leather into the cleaning cloth.


  1. Pour some cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and fold it into a multi-layer square shape
  2. Using the palm of your hand, press and hold the cloth to the spill for a couple of seconds
  3. Repeat using a fresh part of the cloth

Strong Cleaner

Leather Hero’s Spot & Prep (No.4) is a strong cleaner than can be used with caution on unfinished leathers. As it is a strong cleaner, testing is important and it should not be used as a general-purpose cleaner. For accidents and spills, spot clean by blotting the mark a few times then allow the area to dry.

Ink Stick

Ink can be quite deadly on unfinished leathers. A large ink spill and markers are very difficult to remove but a pen mark may come out if treated immediately. Have an Ink Stick on hand so that you can take action as soon as the accident happens.


Avoid saturating the leather. Too much moisture can subtly change the structure of leather, leaving water-marks and stiffening. If your leather is prone to water-marks, finish with an outward sweeping technique to minimise the chance of a noticeable edge to the treated area.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline kit without accessories - Leather Hero
Ideal for the regular care and maintenance of aniline, nubuck and suede leathers


Some leather conditioners can permanently darken aniline leather, making it look wet or greasy. Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) is light, penetrating and moisturising. It is formulated to nurture unfinished leathers without changing the natural appearance of the leather.

Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) has a light lotion consistency. It leaves the leather feeling beautiful to touch and won’t change the natural aesthetic characteristics of unprotected leathers.


The last step towards beautiful nubuck, suede and aniline leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield that helps 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. It also contains a UV barrier that can help to reduce fading in bright environments. Try Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) on your unfinished leathers. Again, test products for compatibility in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service.

Test First

Always test products in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service. There are many makers and treatments used in tanneries so it is prudent to ensure compatibility before using products.

What type of leather? semi-aniline - Leather Hero
There are many different leather treatments used in tanneries

Simple Accessories

To service your aniline leather, you’ll need a soft-bristle scrubbing brush, some microfibre cloths and a sponge. Nail brushes with flexible synthetic or pig-hair bristles are ideal for agitating dirt from the grain. Use a light circular motion with light to moderate pressure.

Semi-Aniline Leathers

Semi-aniline leathers can have light colour coatings and clear topcoats. As they are light coatings (meaning comparatively thin), they can be abraided easily. Avoid the use of harsh scrubbing, intense rubbing, kitchen scourers and magic sponges.

Semi- aniline leathers often have light colour and top-coatings. This is one we restored after years of fading, stains and coatings wear.

UV Light and Fading

In a sun-drenched room or beside a window, aniline leather furniture can fade quite dramatically. Unlike pigmented leathers, the beautiful aniline dyes used to colour the leather in the tannery tend to fade when exposed to sunlight. If possible, protect anilines from direct sunlight by installing blinds, window tinting or placing them away from windows.

Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) contains a UV barrier. Use it every 3 months to slow the fading of aniline leathers.

Leather Protector 250ml - Leather Hero
Easy to apply, Protect (No.3) can help to prevent stains

Older Aniline Leather

If your lounge is older and the leather is dry, you may choose to use a richer conditioner. Waxy Nourish (No.9) is a more robust conditioner that leaves a noticeable waxy coating which can be buffed to a luxurious shine. The look has a pleasing vintage appeal. With multiple applications, anilines can take on a waxed leather look and feel.

This vintage lounge suite was treated with Waxy Nourish (No.9)

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How To Paint With Leather Paint

If you love making art, leather paints open up a world of possibilities. With these chroma rich paints, you can customise your leather and vinyl accessories to your heart’s content. Get creative, your imagination run free and make a statement with customised leather cushions, footwear and apparel.


The Leather Hero range of colours starts with 15 master colours. All other colours are blended from these shades. For artistic painting, you can use any colours within the Leather Hero range. However, these core colours make the ideal art set, enabling the creation of a universe of new colours.

Leather Hero Master Colours Chart
Water-based, mixable and chroma rich colours for your creative projects

Getting Started

The Master Colour Set is a great place to start. The colour dots we mixed are just a few of the many possibilities that be created using black, white, ochre, blue and scarlet.

Master Colour Set 5 x 50ml - Leather Hero

These 5 core colours can be mixed to create many unique colours; from pastels to mid-tones to vibrant and dark tones, they offer a world of creative opportunity

Black, White, Ochre, Scarlet, Blue


Leather Hero paints are a liquid consistency. They are applied in layers. This means you can achieve a range of effects. With a single brushstroke, you can make ethereal water-colour effects. With a few layers, a solid, opaque finish is achieved. Have a jar of water on hand to wash your brushes as needed.

Low viscosity paint enables fine detailing

Customised Creations

When you are looking for a truly personalised gift, a custom designed, hand-painted leather or faux jacket really does fit the bill. Paint the sleeves and leave the back blank. Paint the back and make some small references on the front or decorate the entire jacket with random or repeated motifs. There really are no limits.

Making it personal

What do you give to a girl who lives by the sea and loves orcas and her Italian Greyhound equally? Answer: A custom painted leather jacket featuring them all.

On some scrap paper, we sketched the design, decided on a solid colour painting style and got the go-ahead from the client.

A truly personalised and unique jacket

Painting On Black Leather

Here’s how we completed a customised commissioned for our client. She wanted the magnolia motif to be simple and pretty so we suggested a single stem with a flower and buds.

The first step was to clean the leather thoroughly with Spot & Prep (No.4). The leather may have been coated or conditioned at the tannery or thereafter with products containing waxes, oils or silicones. It’s important to remove them before painting to optimise the bond between the leather and your artwork.

Soft bristle brushes enable smooth, flowing strokes
Speed up the drying process by using a hair dryer at 30cm from your artwork
Leather Spot Remover & Surface Prep 50ml - Leather Hero
Spray Spot & Prep (No.4) onto the leather one area at a time. Gently agitate the cleaner with a soft scrubbing brush and wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
Sketch your design using an erazable pencil
Paint the entire area of your design with white paint
Creating a white or light coloured base helps subsequent layers pop
In thin layers, add in the mid-tones, highlights and shadows to form your subject
Add in the details and you are done!
Paint your way using as much detail or expression as you like
A very happy client

Painting With Colour Restoration Cream

Colour Restoration Cream (No.32) has lots of resins to create a rub-resistant, serviceable finish. Blended with leather paints, it creates beautiful colours and a smooth, glaze-like brushstroke, similar to a traditional painting medium. Due to the semi-transparent coverage of this product, working on a light coloured substrate is best.

Painted directly on a piece of crust (tanned and unfinished leather) using Colour Restoration Creams, this lovely image has a delicate, sheer aesthetic. It would make a unique floor cushion.

Working quickly and painting wet-in-wet allows for artistic blending. To build depth of colour and create multi-dimensional effects, allow your work to dry between each layer. Results with Colour Cream are soft and similar to water-colour or acrylic paints blended with lots of medium.

We love to see your works of art. Send them to us via or 0490 796 012

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How to Clean Suede & Nubuck Leather

Warm, velvety and natural, unprotected leathers are widely considered the most valuable and beautiful. They are also the most vulnerable to damage. Having said that, quality unfinished leathers can age gracefully, arguably better than pigmented leather that can delaminate and degrade in other ways after years of use. With aniline, nubuck and suede, sometimes, the compromise is a patina of marks that, over time, blend to create a vintage appeal. Regular care and maintenance help to prolong the health of these leathers whilst softening the appearance of marks and minimising stains.

From Day 1

More than any other type of leather, it’s important to commence and maintain a regular regime of cleaning and conditioning from the day your new lounge or coat is delivered. When that first spill hits your leather, you will be glad you have a suitable cleaner on hand to immediately treat the affected area. You will also be pleased that you have conditioned the leather thereby providing a level of protection. Whilst there is no physical barrier to prevent spills from penetrating into the structure of the leather, regular conditioning adds some factors that may buy you some time as you race to soak up the spill before it enters the leather. Similarly, a leather protector, if suitable for your leather, can also create an invisible shield that helps to prevent stains and repels soiling.

What Not To Use

Due to the open and porous nature of leather and the lack of protective coatings on anilines, suedes and nubucks, the use of harsh cleaners can dry and damage the leather at the structural leather resulting in long term problems. Similarly, overly ‘rich’ conditioners can permanently darken the leather, making it look wet or greasy. Avoid the home-made recipes and so-called clever hacks you find on the internet. They are usually ill-informed and risky. Leather care has already been cleverly hacked by engineers and scientists who have, through decades (if not centuries) of research and development, created dedicated products that are safe and beneficial to leather. Also, avoid the use of household cleaners. They can cause irreversible damage that may show immediately or later on. Rips and stripped colour can result from the use of cream cleansers, cleaning wipes, oils and other unsuitable chemicals.

Bring in the Professionals

If you don’t get around to servicing your lounge regularly, call in a professional once a year. If an accident happens and you are not sure how to deal with it, contact a leather care and restoration expert for advice.

DIY Care

Good suede and nubuck leather care involves just a few steps; cleaning, conditioning and, if suitable a protective anti-soiling barrier often referred to as leather protection treatment.

How Often To Service Leather

Consider how often we wipe down our kitchen benches and wash our clothes… Imagine going a month without doing either. Lounges in regular use gather soiling, spills and ‘human grime’ at the same pace as everything else we use daily. A 3 monthly maintenance clean is recommended or more often in high traffic environments.  For apparel, a service at the beginning of the season and another one at the end of the season is recommended. 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 leather is always a joy to use and looks good too. Mark it on your calendar so that you don’t forget.

Regular servicing is the most effective.


The ideal cleaner gently lifts dirt and is mild enough to avoid damaging the leather.

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

Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Cleanse (No.10) is a professional-grade general maintenance cleaner that is ideal for everyday maintenance. It’s formulated specifically for unprotected leathers, is water-based, non-sudsing, non-greasy, non-abrasive, non-toxic and easy to use. With regular use, it minimises marks and removes some of the soiling, body oil and perspiration that damages leather.

When it comes to unprotected leathers, you won’t see stains magically disappear when cleaning. Most often, soiling, spills and marks have penetrated, set-in and are permanent. However, with regular cleaning, marks tend to soften in appearance, blending in a more aesthetically pleasing way over time.

Besides improving the appearance of the leather, regular cleaning helps to minimise the harmful impact of body oil, hair oil and perspiration on leather. With long term exposure, unprotected leathers absorb these contaminants and are degraded at the structural level. They may become dry from perspiration or rot when soaked in oil.

Nubuck, Suede & Aniline kit without accessories - Leather Hero
Ideal for the regular care and maintenance of aniline, nubuck and suede leathers


For aniline, suede and nubuck leather that feels beautiful to touch and is nourished throughout, a light conditioner is best. Products containing the wrong types of waxes and oils can be too ‘rich’ for these leathers. They may clog the pores, look waxy, add unwanted shine, create a greasy appearance or permanently darken the leather.

Unlike a dense wax or thick cream-style conditioner, Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Nourish (No.11) is more like a lotion. Whilst a test spot is recommended to determine compatibility with your leather, it typically leaves a beautiful feel without changing the natural characteristics and physical appearance of unprotected leathers.

The Right Accessories

A suitable cleaner, a gentle scrubbing brush and some microfibre cloths are the all you need to clean unprotected leathers.

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.

For cleaning anilines, look for a bristle brush similar to a nail scrubbing brush with pig-hair bristles or a synthetic domestic cleaning brush. The bristles should not be too hard or inflexible. A light circular motion is usually ideal for agitating dirt from the grain.

Due to the absence of protective coatings, cleaners penetrate quickly. Spray across one area of the leather then, working quickly, use a lightly dampened microfibre cloth to work the cleaner into the leather, then wipe over the leather. You can also pour the cleaner directly onto the cloth, squeeze to incorporate and wipe over the leather.

Semi-aniline leathers can have light colour coatings or clear topcoats. As they are light coatings (meaning comparatively thin), they can be abraided easily. Avoid the use of harsh scrubbing, kitchen scourers and magic sponges. For all leather types, too much heat and water can cause irreversible damage. Whilst steam kills germs and can dislodge some soiling, it is very risky and is not recommended.

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

Test First

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.


The last step towards beautiful nubuck, suede and aniline leather is an invisible, anti-soiling, breathable shield that helps 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. Again, test products for compatibility in an inconspicuous place before proceeding with a full service.

Leather Hero’s Protect (No.3) leaves a transparent barrier to spills and stains.

Leather Protector 250ml - Leather Hero
Easy to apply, Protect (No.3) can help to prevent stains

Brush The Nap

After cleaning, conditioning and protecting, brushing the surface can lift the nap revealing the soft, fuzzy feel of the leather. It can also greatly improve the look, hide marks and leave a lush, velvety finish. A synthetic or fine wire-bristle brush can be used. Brush the surface gently. If there are marks, go over these areas a few times, gradually increase the pressure whilst watching carefully for any unwanted changes.

The Method


  1. Start with Leather Hero’s Nubuck, Suede and Aniline Care Kit. Test each product in an inconspicuous place to assess compatibility with your leather. If there are any unwanted changes, do not proceed


  1. Vacuum any dust and particles
  2. Pour the cleaner onto a lightly dampened microfibre cloth or spray it directly onto the leather one small section at a time. It will be absorbed quickly, so…
  3. Working quickly and gently, agitate the cleaner into the grain using a scrubbing brush
  4. Wipe clean with a microfibre cloth
  5. Repeat if needed


  1. Pour conditioner to a lightly dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze to incorporate
  2. Wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Pour onto a lightly dampened cloth or spray over one section at a time
  2. Working quickly, wipe over the surface evenly and repeat until all areas have been treated


  1. Brush all areas to lift the nap and render a luxurious, velvety feel. On upholstery, use a strong bristle brush and on apparel, use a soft bristle brush


  1. Repeat every 3 months
  2. Have products on hand to tackle accidental spills and marks
A heavily soiled nubuck lounge
Cleaned by hand using Leather Hero Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Cleanse & Nourish

Other Care Strategies

Over time, hair and body oil can create dark areas, usually on the backrest, headrest or armrest of the favourite seat of a lounge. We have even seen the shadow of a full human figure sitting on an aniline lounge – made of grease! True story.

So, whilst it’s entirely up to you to decide, the use of throw rugs can be part of a strategic plan to minimise the effects of oils on aniline leathers. They are removable and can be washed regularly, unlike you lounge. In the old days, our great grandmothers used antimacassars; decorative cloths that were put over the back of a chair to protect it from grease and dirt. A crocheted doily may not be your idea of style especially when paired with a sleek contemporary lounge, but a stylish throw rug can serve as the modern alternative.

If you want to share the lounge with your pets, place a pet bed on the lounge and train them to use it.

Antimacassars; decorative cloths that were put over the back of a chair to protect it from grease and dirt.
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How To Recolour A Leather Lounge

If the coatings on your pigmented (painted) lounge are looking tired, there are stains, scuffs and scratches or you’d like to recolour or change the colour, this guide will help you choose the right products for the job and step you through the refinishing process.

In A Nutshell

So, you are wondering how to recolour your lounge. Here is the express answer. Using pro-grade leather finishing products, follow these 4 steps:

  1. clean and prep the leather
  2. apply primer
  3. apply a few coats of leather colour
  4. seal with a leather topcoat

It’s that simple! With the right gear on hand, it’s an immensely satisfying DIY job that dramatically improves the appearance of your furniture and can help to extend its viable life.

In just a few hours and for a fraction of the cost of a new one, you can give your furniture a jaw-dropping makeover

slider recolour
These chairs faded from taupe to blotchy pale green.
Refinishing them in a lively shade of orange-tan gave them a whole new lease on life.

Surface soiling, stains, fading, scratches, peeling, wear and tear, greasy marks and delamination detract from the original good looks of any leather sofa. The good news is that many of these problems can be repaired or corrected. With a well-stocked Leather Repair Kit containing professional-grade products, you can replenish worn coatings, cover indelible stains, fill and smooth scratches and dramatically improve the look and appeal of your sofa.

What is leather ‘finishing’

‘Finishing’ refers to the coatings and treatments that are applied to the surface of the crust (tanned skin) to render the colours, touch, texture, sheen and effects you see. Leather goes through a number of steps such as pressing, tumbling, sanding, buffing, ironing, heating and embossing and is treated with coatings in addition to the colour, including base coats, primers, accent coats and topcoats. In the tannery they are applied by roller, spray and even hand-rubbed techniques.

Innovation and technology have seen leaders in the industry develop new, safe, clean and green products. Now you can use products that are the same or similar to those used by tanneries to restore your lounge.

A satisfying and lasting leather restoration happens when the tannery finishing process is replicated using pro-grade after-market products

Options, Products & Processes

There are different leather finishes, more than one way to refinish leather and a few factors to consider before buying restoration products. Exceptional DIY results can be achieved so let’s go through the major considerations, products and processes to help you arrive at the best possible result.


  • the application method you can use: ie, spray-gun ‘v’ hand application
  • the type of leather you have. This guide applies to pigmented (painted) leather
  • whether you want to keep the same colour or change to a new one
  • whether you want a light quick cosmetic make-over or a full refinish
  • whether there’s surface damage that needs to be repaired before recolouring
  • whether you can find a sample swatch for colour matching

Application Methods

One of the first considerations is your choice of application method. When it comes to recolouring a lounge, leather finishes can be applied by hand or sprayed on using an air compressor spray gun. Hand-rubbing is convenient and can render pleasing results. The big win here is that you won’t have to move your furniture. Spraying tends to produce the most refined results but generally requires the lounge to be moved to a suitable work-space to avoid potential issues with over-spray.

Most products can be sprayed or hand-rubbed. Some have been developed for hand application purposes only.

Leather Primer Yes Yes
Leather Paint Yes Yes
Leather Topcoat                                                 Yes Yes
Aniline Dye Stain Yes Yes
Colour Restoration Cream Yes No

Types of Leather

There are several main types of leather finishes typically used on furniture. When it comes to products and techniques for lounges, they can be grouped as follows:

Not sure what type of leather you have? Check out “What Type of Leather”.

Same Colour ‘v’ New Colour

It is generally easier to refinish your lounge in the same colour. It tends to require fewer materials, take less time and less work in the hidden areas such as between cushions. That’s not to say that changing colours is not possible; it certainly is. So based on your leather type, here is a guideline regarding colour:

  • If your leather is pigmented or man-made, pick a colour – any colour. The world is your flamingo pink sofa!
  • If it is aniline, for most DIY situations, staying within a similar colour range or slightly darker is advisable

A Light Make-Over ‘v’ Full Refinishing

Both systems have merit. Colour Restoration Cream gives a very satisfying make-over. It contains leather dyes and/or pigments and resins. With semi-opaque coverage, you can apply 1 coat as a refresher or a few coats to build coverage. It is quick and easy to apply by hand and easy to touch-up as needed. Success lies in having a good colour match. This method is not suitable for covering most repairs or for changing colours. It is ideal for DIY restoration of aniline and waxed leathers because it doesn’t deliver full opaque coats of pigment (paint). It works equally well on pigmented leathers.

First, let’s look at the ‘light make-over’ option:

Great For:Not Great For:
Refreshing the existing colourChanging colours
Covering minor marks & surface wearFully covering repairs
Pigmented leatherFully covering heavy stains
Aniline and waxed leathers*Covering extensive wear and delamination
Quick, easy application and top-upsMaximum durability

Aniline and waxed leathers* For these leathers, a Dye Stain and Colour Restoration Kit is generally most suitable.

Now, let’s look at the ‘full refinishing’ option:

Full refinishing refers to the more extensive process of surface prep, priming, colouring and topcoating. This is an after-market replication of the finishing applied at the tannery. Coverage is complete so this system is perfect for covering repairs and stains and for colour changes. In high wear areas, it offers the most durable finish. Semi-aniline effects can be achieved. Quality Leather Repair Kits contain a full refinishing system that can be applied by hand or by spray gun.

Great For:Not Great For:
Changing colours or same colourQuick, easy application and top-ups (it’s easy but not as easy as Colour Cream)
Covering repairsAniline and waxed leathers**
Covering heavy stains
Covering extensive wear and delamination*
Maximum durability
Pigmented leathers

Covering extensive wear and delamination* When wear and tear are advanced, correct surface prep can improve the coverage and durability of coatings. As a general rule of thumb, the stronger the substrate the greater the durability (in conjunction with correct care and usage)

Aniline and waxed leathers** Can be used although full refinishing permanently changes aniline and waxed leather to pigmented finish. Semi-aniline effects can be created with pigments if desired.

Wear and tear happen over time. New coatings can dramatically improve the look and feel of your lounge

Need to Make Some Repairs?

If you are repairing, it is advisable to use a Leather Repair Kit rather than a Colour Restoration Kit. Leather filler is white and must be concealed under opaque colour.

Matching To A Sample

When it comes to colour, you will need a good match if:

If you want to change the colour, go for it. All you need is a Large Repair Kit in your choice of standard colour or you can mix your own.

Here’s some more information about finding a sample of your leather and how to custom mix a matching colour.

Where To Find Professional-Grade Products

In Australia, commercial-grade products are sold online by specialist leather finishing companies. They are not available through the major hardware retailers such as Bunnings or Mitre 10. Look for professional-grade, high-quality products. When comparing prices, be alert to the likelihood that cheaper products are diluted with water or other inexpensive filler components. Typically, cheaper paints and dyes are stripped-back formulations that lack the resins that give quality products advanced wear properties. What you spend on products will likely correlate to the results and longevity of your job.

A huge range of colours to match your job

Do I need a kit or just some dye?

It’s tempting to look at a marked and damaged leather lounge and think ‘I’ll just get some dye’. Firstly, you probably need some leather pigment or paint. Most furniture is coated with pigments. Terminology differs around the world but in Australia, paints are called pigments and aniline dyes are called dye or dye stain.

Unfortunately, the ‘just dye’ approach doesn’t end well. Without suitable surface prep, adhesion promoters and a hard-wearing topcoat, the coatings may wear more quickly. In high traffic areas, results might be short-lived and disappointing.

So, now you know the type of leather, the method of application you want to use and the type of finishing you want for your project. Let’s dive into the ‘How to’s’.

Pigmented and Man-made Leathers

Is your lounge a solid, block colour? Say, white, stone, red, blue or black? Is the finish like these pigmented lounges? Yes, then this info is for you.

To revamp the colour on your pigmented leather lounge, you have 2 options:

  • Full refinishing in any colour using a Large Repair Kit
  • Refreshing the existing colour using a Colour Restoration Kit


To recolour a pigmented leather lounge you will need a Large Repair Kit that includes a strong cleaner and surface prep, primer, paint, dulling agent and topcoat as well as the various accessories you need to complete the project. If there is surface damage such as scratches, scuffs and small tears, opt for a kit with leather filler and glue.

Large Leather Repair Kit - Leather Hero
A Large Repair Kit with accessories provides the materials you need to complete the job with ease

With pigmented leather, when it comes to colour, the choice is yours. You can go lighter or darker, for example, black over white or white over black. If you would like to recolour in the same colour, you will need to match the colour by tweaking the base colour using a Colour Adjustment Kit. Alternatively, some companies will mix the colour for you if you can provide a sample. See 7 Ways to Find A Colour Swatch

Colour adjustment Kit 3 x 50ml - Leather Hero
A Colour Adjustment Kit allows you to make adjustments to your base colour to achieve a perfect match

Steps to Recolour A Group 1 Leather Lounge Using Option 1

Step 1 : Protect Your Work Area

If you are applying the products by a hand-rubbed technique; ie, by sponge, in most cases, you can work on the lounge right where it sits. Be sure to put down drop-sheets, move nearby furnishing and move the lounge away from walls. It’s best to work in good natural light and ventilation.

If you wish to spray the lounge using an air-compressor and spray gun, move the lounge to a suitable work area. Tape or cover any components that you do not wish to colour.

Take a set of before pics. They make a satisfying comparison when you are done.

Step 2: Clean The Surface Thoroughly Using a Pro-Grade Surface Prep Solution

Success happens from the bottom up. This cannot be stressed enough. Without good surface prep, coatings adhesion can be compromised. Vacuum to remove grit and hair then put on some gloves and working in one area at a time, spray the deep cleaning leather prep solution onto the leather, scrub using a soft to medium bristle brush and wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. Note: scrubbing is essential to most jobs. Simply wiping with a cloth may leave substances that repel the coatings or prevent adhesion. The aim is to remove soiling as well as any oils, waxes, emollients and silicones from the surface. If not removed, adhesion problems may ensue. Avoid household cleaners to avoid damaging the leather. Also, avoid using general-purpose leather cleaners that are not suitable for pre-colour surface prep.

Step 3: Sand the surface

Allow a few minutes drying time then sand the entire surface using sandpaper in 600-800 grit. The aim is to lightly smooth any roughness, open the pores and key the surface to maximise the bond between the old coatings and the new. You don’t need to remove the old coatings. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any loose particles. Note that vinyl and faux leather generally cannot be sanded so you can skip this step.

Step 4: Repair as needed

If your lounge doesn’t need any repairs, move on to Step 5.

Use leather glue to bond loose tags and re-join cut edges etc. Allow drying time then sand to smooth. If there are pits, scratches and cracks present, apply leather filler in thin layers to fill any surface imperfections. Allow drying between each layer. Once cured, use sandpaper to smooth the repaired area. This is the slowest stage of the project. Be patient as the results are worth it.

Often the tops of seat cushions are more heavily worn than other parts of the lounge. The leather may be delaminating, flaking and showing a heavy patina of surface wear. Leather Binder is a viscous, wipe on cream that fills minor pitting and surface irregularities whilst adding surface structure to weakened and strained leather. It dries quickly, can be texturized and sanded.  Applied in layers, it can radically improve the texture and finish of worn lounge seats. Leather Binder is sold separately as it’s not needed in every circumstance.

Step 5: Apply leather primer

At this point, surface prep is complete and you are ready to commence the colouring process. Primer is a clear coating that promotes adhesion thereby optimising the bond of the colour coats. It is easy to apply, dries quickly and is self-levelling. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the handling of the products by starting on the back or sides. However, your main priority is the seat cushions and armrests so ensure you reserve ample product for the main areas. Apply primer to a sponge and wipe over the surface in long even strokes until all areas are coated. Allow drying. If your leather is quite porous, you may apply a second coat.

…Between the Cushions…

Leather finishing products are designed to stick, so they will stick if pressed together whilst drying. When finishing areas where leather touches leather; ie, between seat and backrest cushions, engage a helper to hold the cushions apart whilst painting then drying off with a hairdryer.

ink on sofa after

Step 6: Apply leather paint

Wearing gloves, shake the colour, then squeeze some leather paint onto a sponge. Apply to a small area at the back to get a feel for the product and how it handles on your leather then start on the front. Apply to one area at a time using long even strokes ensuring even coverage. Use moderate pressure to press the first coat into the grain and crevices. Wipe the colour into the seams then wipe again to remove any excess.

You can change the colour of your lounge

Don’t try to achieve a perfect finish with your first coat. Multiple thin coats give the best results. Dry each layer with a hairdryer or allow an hour or two drying time between coats. Some colours are more opaque than others so the number of coats needed can vary. If you are refreshing the original colour, fewer coats may be needed whilst a colour change may require more – 2 to 6 coats are typical.

A refined quality finish is achieved via multiple thin coats. The coverage shown here is incomplete. Another 2 coats were applied to achieve a completely even black finish

Step 7: Apply leather topcoat

Improving wear properties, 2 thin coats of topcoat finishes your project. Apply by sponge in long even strokes ensuring even coverage. Most furniture has a Satin finish. Note that Matte finish is best applied by spray if possible. If not, shake the bottle often whilst applying.

Well done! You have fully refinished your lounge.


If you’ve decided on a Colour Restoration Cream makeover, here’s how it’s done.

Leather Colour Restoration Kit - Leather Hero
Available in a range of kit sizes and configurations, there’s one for every job. This one is: Heavy Duty

Step 1 : Protect Your Work Area

See details above

Step 2: Clean The Surface Thoroughly

See details above

Step 3: Apply Colour Restoration Cream

Again, start at the back to get a feel for the way the product handles before moving onto the front of your lounge. Pour a generous amount of cream onto a sponge and wipe across the leather.

Pour the cream onto a sponge and wipe over the leather

Work into the grain, seams and crevices and finish with long even strokes or a cross-hatch pattern. Wipe excess from the seams and allow drying between layers. Work quickly and avoid disturbing the finish as it dries.

Colour resto small
Colours are lighter when wet and dryer darker

Coverage builds as you apply more layers. Often 1-2 coats are sufficient on the back and sides and a few coats on the high wear areas (seat cushions and armrests) can extend the life of your job.

Use firm pressure for the first coat. Maintain the integrity of the seams by wiping away any excess

And, you are done!

Congratulations! Now, How To Care For Your Handywork

Just like a pro, you have refinished your pigmented leather lounge. Allow 2 days drying before using the lounge again. The new coatings will be cured in 14 days and need careful care and handling during the curing stage. This process is a simplified, safe and user-friendly version of that used by tanneries. With good care and maintenance, it is capable of delivering lasting results. Keep pets off your lounge; their claws are like sandpaper to your leather coatings. Remove soiling, body and hair oils and perspiration regularly as they are the enemies of your lounge.

The feedback we’ve received from customers and DIYers says it all. Here are just a few samples:

“My wife REALLY loves me now”

” We’ve decide not to sell the house because the lounge looks so good in it”

“The couch looks absolutely incredible. I am lost for words. My son came home and said “Mum, what did you do?” I said “I found Leather Hero”

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How to get a sample of your colour

If you’d like to have your colour custom mixed by us (fees apply), we’ll need a sample to match to. Here are some ways to find a colour sample.

The ideal sample size

The ideal sample is 15cm x 15cm but we know that’s not always possible. It should, however, be no smaller than 5cm x 5cm. It doesn’t have to be a square but we do need an area to test the colour as we mix. If your sample is very small, call us to discuss before proceeding with an order.

Old leather, new leather

Aged leather upholstery can display more than one colour due to UV fading, stains and wear. Unused areas usually reflect the original colour. They may no longer match high traffic areas such as seat cushions which have been extensively used.  Where possible, try to obtain a representative sample that matches the main areas of your project.

8 Ways to find a sample

1) Ask the Manufacturer or Retailer

Call the maker or drop into the store and ask if they can supply a colour swatch. Some may have samples they can post to you or allow you to borrow.

2) Snip a piece from the underside

If you want to work on a piece of furniture and need a colour sample, turn it onto its side and remove a few staples from the dust cover at the base. Look under the dust cover to see if there is a margin of leather to the inside of the staples. If there is, carefully snip the largest possible section then restaple the dust cover back into position. Also, check inside zippered cushions for a seam allowance from which you can harvest a piece.

3) A matching Dulux colour

From the enormous range of Dulux colours, look for the one that matches your leather colour. Email the name of the colour (and the code if you have it). If you find the colour you need in another brand, send us 3 swatches in the post.

4) A detachable component

You can’t send us a sofa in the post but you can send a cushion cover or a detachable headrest or footrest. In cars, look for plastic parts that are the same colour as the leather seats or consider sending the headrest. Also, check under the seats for excess material from which to cut a sample. Although it is rare for parcels to be lost, we strongly recommend you fully insure your shipment for replacement value.

5) Buy a scatter cushion

If your colour is still current, you may be able to purchase a scatter cushion from the retailer. This will give you a new sample of the colour that you can post to us for matching. It also gets you a new scatter cushion!

6) The sample provided with your receipt

Often, retailers provide a leather swatch when you make your purchase. Find your original receipt and you may just find the sample. Alternatively, samples are sometimes stitched into the lounge under the seat cushions. If the cushions are loose, lift them to see if there’s a sample hiding there.

7) Ask a leather merchant

In most major cities there are leather merchants and wholesalers that supply leather to trades and consumers for upholstery, craft, shoe-making, accessories and a myriad of other purposes. It may be worth running your colour specifications by them to see if they can provide you with a useful off-cut.

8) Emailed photos are not as reliable

It would be wonderful if photos provided reliably accurate colour representation but they don’t. Colours can change depending on light, exposure, saturation and other factors. Computer screens can also greatly distort colour. We do mix colours from photos in situations where there’s no alternative. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed with this method.

9)HEX colours

If you know the HEX code for your colour, that can help. With this method we can get a close match to your colour but it may not be perfect.

Make life easy for yourself

There are circumstances when a close colour will suffice. Sometimes, the smart money is on recolouring the whole sofa or car seat, rather than attempting a small touch-up. When you recolour in full, you can change the colour all together. If the colour was matched from a photo and isn’t completely accurate, it’s unlikely to matter if you recolour the entire surface. As professionals, we often restore the entire piece. It always gives the most cohesive and complete result.

Each job is different. Our best tip is to consider the priorities of your job.

  • If you need colour accuracy, find a sample
  • If you want the most cohesive result, give the entire surface a makeover
  • If you can be flexible in terms of colour, send us a photo and we’ll send you a colour that’s similar

OEM colour codes cannot be used

Unfortunately, OEM codes, manufacturer colour names and serial numbers are of no use as there’s no comprehensive database of cross-referenced colour ‘recipes’ available. There are many makers of leather finishing products, many tanneries and many techniques used to create leather. Each maker uses its own materials and formulations. There are literally millions of different colours in use, currently and historically, across the various industries using leather.

Leather Hero after-market colourants are universal and each colour is mixed from a base range of 15 colours. With a sample in hand, we can match most colours.