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.
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.
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:
Clean and prep the surface – remove any silicons, waxes, oils, and soiling that may prevent optimal adhesion
Anchor the edges of the tear
Fill and smooth any remaining gaps and surface irregularities then texturise to mimic leather grain
Refinish – recolour to blend with the surrounding areas
Here are the tools we used to repair the multi-directional tear on the rear panel of a Chesterfield sofa.
Measuring approximately 10cm x 10cm x 2cm the damage included a 3-way tear, surface scuffing and missing foam padding.
Our repair method
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
Boots & other footwear All weather apparel Saddles Leather that is exposed to liquids Fabrics Carpets
Most pigmented (painted), nubuck, suede, aniline & semi-aniline leathers*
Most pigmented (painted), nubuck, suede, aniline & semi-aniline leathers. Most fabrics and carpets*
3 monthly or as needed
3 monthly or as needed
Pour cream onto clean just-damp microfibre cloth & wipe evenly over surface
Spray 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Light 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-greasy
Can 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
A 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
Natural 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-greasy
Can be used on other leather types when a rich, natural shine is desired. Apply 3 monthly
Specialist leather softening cream designed to soften leather that has become stiff & lost supple qualities. Contains natural plant-derived waxes. Non-greasy & non-shiny
Initially, 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
What type of leather do you have?
What do you need from your leather conditioner?
General care for cars, pigmented sofas & apparel
Maximum shine & a degree of water repellence
Waxy Nourish (No.9)
General care for nubuck, suede or aniline leather
Nubuck, Suede & Aniline Nourish (No.11)
Maximum softening effect
A few rules to follow
Before using a leather conditioner, follow these steps:
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.
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 on a 3 monthly schedule as part of your leather care regime.
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.
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.
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.
Mild cleaner suitable for unfinished (uncoated) leathers. Use immediately when spills happen to avoid permanent stains
Can 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
Stubborn spot cleaning & surface prep before repairing or recolouring
A 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
Can remove fresh transferred dye stains from pigmented leathers
A specialist cleaner for removing dyes from clothing, print, hair colourants & other dyes from the surface of pigmented leather
Best 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
A 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
Remove and inhibit mould and mildew infestations in leather
A specialist cleaner for controlling mould in and on leather. Apply generously and allow to penetrate before conditioning the leather
Use 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not or Less SuitableFor
Leather Paint (Colour No.6)
Aniline Dyes & Stains (No.)
Leather Repair Kits
Aniline Dye & Colour Restoration Kit (No.)
Topcoat (clear coating only)
Types of filling
There are 2 main occassions to use leather filler:
Rips and tears: when accidents happen (scissors, knives etc) or when a tear occurs in weakened leather
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.
How to use Leather Filler
Good surface prep is an important part of successful results, including filled repairs.
Clean the leather surface with Spot & Prep (No.4)
Glue closed any loose tags or open tears with Glue (No.16) and allow drying. Repeat until glueing is completed
At this stage and throughout the process, you can sand to smooth the area using a 400-800 grit sandpaper
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
When dry, the filler can be sanded to smooth the area
Continue applying Fill (No.14) in thin layers until the repair or surface imperfections are filled and smooth
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seal & protect the colour Protect the leather
Soft 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.
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
Soft & subtle
Best by spray. Can also use sponge or brush
Sponge, brush or spray
Sponge, brush or spray
Sponge, brush or spray
Modern 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
Can make colours seem lighter
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.
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.
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 :)”
Clean & Prepare the surface
Apply additional coats as needed. One coat gives a sheer makeover, several coats give a complete colour refresh
Clean up any metal parts using a cloth and the cleaner
When dry, buff lightly using a microfibre cloth
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”
Tape up the edge of the lining and metal parts with masking tape to avoid over-painting
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