Until recently restoring or repairing your car leather seats or trim would require either the expertise or the need to call in the experts to do it for you. Fortunately a number of these experts have recently made DIY leather repairs much more accessible to ALL of us, with the introduction of the DIY Leather Repair Kit.
In this and future articles we will explain the step by step process for the repair of leather car seats and trim. Although much of what we will describe will be equally relevant to the repair of sofas, jackets, bags etc. Our first article will concentrate on scuffs in your leather with future posts taking a look at how to repair leather tears, burns, stains and other damage.
What you will need to repair a scuff in leather:
As a starting point you will need the following:
- A Main Base Leather Colour – i.e Green, Blue, Black, Grey
- Paint Tints (these will help match in the base colour to your requirements)
- Leather Gloss Finish
- Leather Finish Matt
- Leather Alcohol Cleaner
- 1200 Grade Wet & Dry
- Mixing Cup
- Application Sponges
- Tooth Picks
- Mixing Stick
- Cotton Buds
- Lint Free Cloth
Fixing the scuff in the leather
Apply some of the alcohol cleaner to a cloth, sponge or cotton wool bud and thoroughly clean the damaged area. – ONLY USE THE ALCOHOL CLEANER ON THE AREA YOU ARE REPAIRING as you do not want to take the protective coating on the undamaged leather surrounding the scuff.
Making the leather smooth:
For best results, before applying the colour, try removing any of the leather fibres from the scuff that are protruding out of the leather, to make the leather as smooth as possible first. This can be done by gently sanding the scuff damage back and forth with 1200p sandpaper (very fine). Once you have achieved a smooth surface, or a surface you are happy to colour, proceed to the next step.
Applying colour to your leather
Pour some of the base colour into the small mixing cup. Fill it about quarter of the way. Then dip a cotton wool bud into the colour and apply a tiny amount to a hidden part of the leather. Dry with a hair drier or let it dry naturally for 5 minutes. Once dry, if it doesn’t match the colour of your leather add the tints to lighten or darken the colour so that it is a perfect match.
Many of the leather repair kits available on the market today will have a range of tints to accompany the base colour together with detailed instructions on which combinations to use to acheive the desired colour match. The following is just one example:
CREAM – light-dark, yellow cream -peach cream
To lighten: Add white in small amounts to make the colour paler or yellow to lighten with a yellow tone. To Darken: Add umber in small amounts to darken the colour. If you add too much, the colour may go slightly green, this can be corrected by adding a drop of red. Black can be used to make a very dark cream, only add a small amount. To make more Red/Peachy: Add small amounts of red or orange. To make more Golden: Slowly mix in oxide yellow to add a golden tone.
How this works is, you will add a small quantity of the tint(s) to the base colour and mix it together, You then re-apply a small amount of colour with a cotton wool bud to the leather and let it dry. If it matches, use this colour to make the repair, if it doesn’t, keep repeating and re-apply the new colour to the leather until it matches.
Once the colour match has been achieved, simply apply some colour to the sponge and dab the colour onto the repair area. A sponge is best for larger areas. If it is just a small scuff, you can apply the colour with a cotton wool bud or small paint brush. Allow to dry and re-apply if necessary. If you want an even better finish then a small airbrush is the best way to apply the colour to the surface of the leather.
Applying the finish to you leather
Now you colour is applied and is dry you will now need to apply a protective coating to seal in the colour and also to match the sheen to the rest of the article of leather you are working on. For very shiny leather you simply apply apply the gloss finish. For a very dull leather you will need to apply the matt on its own and for a Satin finish (in between the above) all you need to do is simply mix the matt and gloss together 50/50.
Next simply sponge the finish onto the leather and either dry with a hair dryer or leave to dry naturally.
After about 12 hours we would recommend applying a separate leather conditioner or protection cream to provided added protection and supplness to you leather.
Having done a number of DIY leather repairs myself without the benefit of the newly available leather repair kits I know from my own personal experience how easy and straight forward the process can be and the fantastic feeling of real achievement you get from stepping back and admiring the repair you have done, not to mention the money you have saved from not having to call someone in to do it.
If you have some leather that is scuffed or in need of re-colouring – go-ahead – give it a go – if like me you won’t be disappointed.