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Old 06-18-2007, 01:59 PM
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Re-coloring leather

A lot of you have asked about re-coloring leather and vinyl. In my shop, I get a lot of people who want a leather car seat repaired. The only way to repair most large rips or holes in leather is to replace the bad part or parts. The problem comes in matching the color of the leather seat. Sure, I could order leather to match most seats, but I'd have to order a whole hide from most places, and at a minimum a half hide from others. This would make most repairs very expensive, and leave me with unwanted leather inventory. The answer is to re-color a small piece of leather with SEM Classic Coat. This is done in 3 steps. 1) clean the leather with SEM soap using a gray cleaning pad. 2) continue the prep process by using SEM plastic/leather prep. 3) spray on two coats of SEM Classic Coat. I wait 24 hours after re-coloring to let the Classic Coat dry completely, and then use the leather as needed to repair the seat. The SEM soap has an abrasive in it to scuff up the surface. The 4th picture shows what came off the surface of the new leather after using the SEM soap. The last picture shows the leather after re-coloring. It's really hard over the computer to show the difference after re-coloring the leather, so when I'm done I'll take a picture of the completed repair.
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Last edited by DanTwoLakes; 06-18-2007 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:36 PM
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Could that process be used to color old leather for a distressed leather look in a different color?
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:44 PM
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The distressed leather look is not possible with this method, if you're referring to the two-tone look that I think you're talking about. You can basically change the color to any one color, and if you want to spray it with a sprayer instead of an aerosol, you can get any color mixed up special, or go with stock colors.
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:13 PM
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Thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:40 AM
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Here's the finished repair. It's really hard to find a piece of leather with the right grain to match the original, but at least this is solid again. Also, the amount of wear on the rest of the leather makes a big difference. I told the owner I could dye the rest of the seat front to make a perfect match, but he was thrilled with having it fixed at a reasonable price. I have another similar repair to do on a rear seat that I will post pictures of.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:05 AM
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I do a similar thing dan. I keep blacks, tans, and whites in stock. That way I can dye it to match. Keeps cost down and I try to buy hides that have huge discounts just for repairs. Like the last batch of black hides I purchased. I got em for $50 a hide avg 47sq.ft.
I also use another small company that will come out. After I do the repair, he'll come and custom mix a dye and hit the repair. The great thing about his is that he can even match the color to the worn leather in the vehicle. He's resonably priced, as we send each other work.

Sorry that wasn't any great DIY help, but just some info.
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:18 AM
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I could match the repair exactly to the worn leather if I wanted to, but most of my customers are repairing older vehicles and want to keep the cost as low as possible. I always offer to match it exactly, though. I keep every scrap of leather I can get my hands on.
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:25 AM
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As promised, here is the other repair requiring re-coloring. The first picture shows the leather I started with. It's dark brown, and I would not normally start with leather so completely different in color, but I wanted to show you what can be done with re-coloring. The second and third pictures are the spraying process. I kept re-coating until the leather was the right color. Normally you wouldn't need to spray more than 3 coats. The last picture is the finished repair.
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