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Leather Restoration – Making Old Leather Seats Look New

By on March 26, 2010

Professional Leather Restoration

Leather seat restoration demo. Don’t think your seats are too worn out. Take a look at this.

Here is a leather seat that I am going to restore so you can see the results for the worst looking leather. This isn’t nessicarily a do it yourself project but could be depending on your overall skill.

Before image of seat

As you can see this seat is in terrible shape.

It needs to be cleaned and cleaned well before any restoration can take place.  To start use something like Mr Clean and a plastic scrub brush. This is geting all the dirt and grime. Be sure to get into the seams as well. Sometime you will need to hold the seam open while brushing it out.

Just keep doing this alternating between scrubing and wiping with a cloth. When everything looks clean and the cloth starts to show no dirt you can stop. I use a can of air to blow all the loose dirt from the seams.

You also have to get all the oils and waxes from the leather. For this a solvent base cleaner like paint thinner or acetone will work. It might take some of the color out so only use it when restoring the seat.

Just wipe it thoughouly and let it dry off for a few minute.

Repairing the rips in the leather car seat

The rips need to be patched before the rest of the surface can be restored. Using a piece of swede and some leather glue a patch will be glued under the rip.

Patching the rips in the leather

It is easier to place the patch under the leather and get it right where it needs to be before trying to glue it. This way you can control how the leather is glued and get the rip closed up as good as possible.

Use a flat piece of wood or anything else nice and flat to press the repair until the glue dries. This will ensure everything hold how it should while the glue dries.

Fill all the cracks in the leather

Now that all the rips have their under patch the rest of the surface can be filled using a leather filler.This stuff isn’t readily available and often needs to be ordered.

The idea is to build up the surface and fill all the small cracks and pits. This seat took four coats (about 1oz.) to finally restore the surface to new.

Leather being filled and restored

I am creating this as a demo so people can see all the stages of the repair and understand how their leather is being restored.

Adding the grain and texture back to the leather.

Since the leather filler creates a completely smooth surface the grain of the original leather needs to be created again. This is done with an airbrush and colored leather dye. Again it is a slow process where the grain up gradually built up until it looks like real leather.

With the surface of the leather restored it is time to match the original color and shine.

This is the trickiest part since the color needs to be custom matched. It takes a keen eye and a solid knowledge of color to make all the minor adjustments. Once the color is matched it is sprayed with and airbrush in several light coats. Finally a finish clear coat to protect the entire surface of the restored leather.

The process is finished. Now the leather seats need to sit and cure for about 12 hours before being used. This way all the materials reach their ideal strength.

 

More leather restoration resources

Leather Repair Guy – Leather Seat Repair

This demo seat shows just how bad leather can be and still be completely restored to look like new. You are unlikely to take on a repair job like this on your own simply due to the difficulty getting the product. There are several leather kits available online and only one is proven to get good results for DIY’ers. Paul Ford from HowToRepairLeather.com has a good system for do it yourselfer. It is proven and he has many testimonials to support it.

He has a leather repair video series that I highly recommend, especially if you are serious about taking on your own leather repair.

Leather Restoration Experts

How To Repair Leather - How to repair & restore leather . . . step-by-step

Leather Repair Guy – Leather Seat Repair – Leather & vinyl, plastic and upholstery repairs. Articles, information and how to’s

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