Posted on

How to get a sample of your colour

We’ve put together a list of options to help you get 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

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.

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, snip the largest possible section then restaple the dust cover back into position.

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 as we may not be able to get them.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Conversely, when doing isolated touch-ups, results are much better if the colour match is true and accurate. If the colour is not perfect, the repaired area may be detectable. If the armchair you are restoring is a solo feature chair, a new or slightly different colour won’t matter. If it’s part of a 3 piece suite, a good match is likely to be preferable.

As professionals, we often restore the entire piece. It always gives the most cohesive and complete result. A well-executed isolated repair can work perfectly well but the freshly repaired area may still stand out – even with accurately matched colour and finish. That’s because it looks ‘like-new’ whilst the surrounding areas are still soiled, stained, abraded and worn. Even a subtly aged surface can be noticeable against a completely refinished area.

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

What doesn’t work

Unfortunately, we can’t mix colours from codes. Read on.

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.