Advice - Recolouring Leather


RECOLOURING LEATHER

CLEANING LEATHER PRIOR TO RE-COLOURING

Cleaning leather before a re-colouring treatment is slightly different to the cleaning we talk about in our Cleaning Leather advice page in that for this task, you don’t have to be as concerned about stripping the leather sealant. Liquid Leather SCUFFmaster Dyes have a built-in sealant, so any sealant that gets removed will be replaced during the re-colouring process, whereas Flexicote will need a layer of sealant over the dye.

Liquid Leather offer a full range of leather cleaners depending on how much cleaning is required. It is recommended that you clean the entire panel with GT12 Intensive Cleaner, and remove any remaining stains or dye transfer with GT19 Stripping Solvent (not recommended for DIY use and should be used sparingly). Next, remove any cleaner residue with a damp cloth and dry. Once the leather is dry and surface dirt is removed, any engrained grease must be removed by applying GT18 Leather Degreasant & Fabric Cleaner to the entire panel.

It is important to clean the leather well before applying a new coat of dye, as the stains can carry through to the new dye, and any remaining grease may return to the surface when warm if it isn’t thoroughly removed. Likewise, it is recommended that you don’t strip off more of the lacquer sealant than necessary, as any remaining sealant will help with the next step, priming.

PRIMING LEATHER FOR COLOURS



We strongly recommend that leather is primed before any colouring project. Liquid Leather has a number of products to prime leather for colours, and we recommend using our Adhesion Promoter mixed with our Cross Linker to achieve the best surface for colouring.


Liquid Leather Cross Linker can be used with the Adhesion Promoter (in a 1:10 ratio, well-mixed for 10 minutes), which is then applied to the leather before dyeing. Cross Linker can also be used in small amounts mixed with the SCUFFmaster Dye itself to improve the leather’s dye adhesion and resistance to water and solvents.

You can also prime with GT23 Precoat Leather Dye Foundation, which dissolves any existing sealant on the leather to leave a tacky surface, making the SCUFFmaster Dye or Flexicote Dye adhere more effectively to the leather surface, adding additional durability to the finished leather.

After thoroughly cleaning the leather (as described in our Cleaning Leather Prior to Re-colouring advice page), apply GT23 Precoat Leather Dye Foundation to the leather surface, allowing the sealant to dissolve and become sticky, then apply your SCUFFmaster Dye or Flexicote Dye with 10% GT23 Precoat Leather Dye Foundation added to the dye.

RE-COLOURING LEATHER WITH SCUFFMASTER DYES



Regardless of the size of the area you want to re-colour, preparation is key. Read our advice pages on Cleaning Leather Prior to Re-Colouring followed by Priming Leather for Colour if you want to get the best results from all your hard work. Do these two steps right, and the re-colouring will be a breeze.


Regardless of the size of the area you want to re-colour, preparation is key. Read our advice pages on Cleaning Leather Prior to Re-Colouring followed by Priming Leather for Colour if you want to get the best results from all your hard work. Do these two steps right, and the re-colouring will be a breeze.

Now that you’ve fully cleaned the leather and primed it with Adhesion Promoter, Cross Linker or GT23 Precoat Leather Dye Foundation, you can get started with the SCUFFmaster Dye.

Remember to always wear gloves and clothes you don’t mind getting ruined when handling SCUFFmaster Dyes, and we also recommend you work in a large, ventilated area with something to protect surrounding furniture, walls and carpet. Believe it or not, SCUFFmaster Dye will stain!

The advantage of using SCUFFmaster Dye is that it has a built in sealant, so no top coat is required. Trust us, once you’re finished cleaning, priming and colouring, you’ll be grateful that you actually get to skip a step!

If you are using a matt dye, the base resins may make the dye a little too thick, so you may need to dilute the dye with water to get a nice, thin, even coat.

You must also make sure the dye is the correct shade before applying to the leather. If your dye has been colour matched by us, keep in mind where that sample was taken from. In most cases, the sample is taken from a hidden area of the item that will not have been affected by sunlight etc., meaning the colour may be slightly different. We recommend you use a Liquid Leather SCUFFmaster pigment starter kit to adjust the dye colours to match. We also recommend mixing the SCUFFmaster Dye with 10% GT23 Precoat Leather Dye Foundation to improve dye adhesion.

Once your dye is well mixed and colour matched, filter with a paper filter to ensure there are no particles suspended in the solution, then apply to the leather.

How you apply the dye will depend on both the size of the area you are re-colouring and whether you want a solid colour or a mottled or veined two-tone effect. For two-tone effects, read our Re-Creating Mottled Two-Tone Finishes advice page.
If you are only applying SCUFFmaster Dye to a small area of the leather, you can apply the dye by dabbing with a sponge to form a thin, even coat. If you are re-colouring a large area, we recommend you spray the SCUFFmaster Dye using a Hobby Spray Gun, Airbrush or a Mouth Operated Diffuser, and always wear a face mask and safety glasses such as our 3M Reusable Half Face Mask Respirator and Arco Safety Glasses. Spray equipment and protective equipment is available available from the Liquid Leather Accessories Page.

When applying SCUFFmaster Dye to the leather, the aim is to apply the dye in thin, even layers, allowing the dye to thoroughly dry between each layer. If you apply SCUFFmaster Dye too thickly, it will not dry properly and will result in uneven tones.
After three or four thin coats with SCUFFmaster Dye, the re-colouring is complete. Be sure to let the leather fully dry before use (perhaps leave overnight just to be on the safe side). As SCUFFmaster Dyes contain a built in sealant, the item can be used as soon as the SCUFFmaster is dry, but an extra layer of protection can be added with our Leather Sealant Lacquer aerosol if desired.

COLOUR MIXING SERVICE

After years of colour-matching leathers, Liquid Leather has built up an extensive bank of genuine car leather colours and furniture leather colours. Our SCUFFmaster and Flexicote leather dyes are trusted by some of the biggest international furniture and car upholstery manufacturers, as well as airlines, upholsterers, retailers and automotive/marine trimmers throughout the world.

Bottle Sizes of DyeAverage Cover Equivalent
65mlSmall touch-ups
250ml5 Cushions/fronts of 2 car seats
1 LitreEntire furniture suite/entire car

If you need a colour mixing that’s not in our colour bank, we can also match to samples you send us, but keep in mind that larger samples will result in a more accurate colour matching. The sample should also not be contaminated with glue, dirt or other substances for the best result. The table below shows the relative accuracy of our colour matching in relation to the size of the sample.

Sample Size
Accuracy
10 pence piece55%
50 pence piece75%
3 inch x 1 inch95%
3 inch x 3 inch100%

We mix our SCUFFmaster and Flexicote dyes by first scanning the sample with our spectrophotometer and then using our state-of-the-art mixing machine. If colours need “tweaking”, final adjustments are made using the trained eyes of our experienced technicians.

Most samples are mixed and posted first-class within 3-5 working days, but larger batches with multiple colours may take longer.

Car and Motorbike Colour Matching Service

We are one of the only leather care companies to offer a genuine colour matching service where our highly trained colleagues mix colours individually once your leather has been scanned for its colour composition by our spectrophotometer.  This ‘magic eye’ reads the exact profile of the sample to give a true colour reading.

When ordering SCUFFmaster Dyes or Flexicote Dyes for your car upholstery, make sure you provide as much information as possible in order for us to find the perfect match. The identification plate (usually in the engine bay or driver’s side A-pillar) should list the original leather colour as “TRIM”.

For older cars with black leather upholstery, standard black SCUFFmaster Dyes and Flexicote Dyes used in conjunction GT21 Gloss Enhancer and GT22 Matt Enhancer can be used to match your leather upholstery.

Furniture colour Matching Service

We have an extensive stock of leather dyes that have been colour-matched to manufacturer’s samples for use by the manufacturers themselves along with professional repairers and official retailers. All these colours are available to the general public for home repairs of scuffs, scratches, creases cracks and general wear or fading. We recommend using our SCUFFmaster Leather Touch-Up Kit’s toners to adjust the colour to match your furniture, as the colour and shine of leather changes through time and use.

How to order your SCUFFmaster Dyes

Ordering SCUFFmaster Dyes from our colour bank to match your car or furniture is easy. Simply select whether it is for your car or your furniture, and then select/enter the information to find your colour-matched leather dye. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our website, then give us a ring. It may be that it has recently been added to our stock, but if we don’t stock the colour, simply send us a sample (recommended 8cm X 5cm min) and we will mix the colour to match. Please read below for the best places to find leather samples.

Providing samples for colour matching

Our state-of-the-art colour scanning and mixing machines, along with our highly experienced colour technicians mean we can match colours to extremely precise tolerances. We use spectrophotometers to scan the sample and a specialised dispenser that mixes the dye to the spectrophotometer reading and produces a certificate of conformity. Delta-E (dE) readings measure the amount of difference between two colours. We mix our colours to 0.3dE, which is 40% more accurate than is required to meet industry standards.

Where to find good car leather samples

In cars, there is usually ample leather below the seat from which to find an adequately sized sample. If not, you can often find a sample at the base of the side panels, which is hidden by the seat. Estates will also usually have leather that is covered by plastic trim covering the joint between the carpet and the rear seat. Many customers simply remove the headrest and send it to us via secure post, which will usually provide a 100% colour match, and we will return the headrest to you via a secure method. Always supply the make, model and year of the car, as well as the trim code in order to make re-ordering easy and allowing other customers to access the colour via our colour bank.

Where to find good leather furniture samples

Finding a sample of furniture leather is generally very easy by looking under the settee, chair etc. Manufacturers will usually leave enough loose trim to remove a sample without damaging the furniture.

If possible, send us the manufacturer name, model, leather colour swatch name and/or colour code along with the sample.

Samples can be sent to:

Gliptone Leathercare Ltd Unit 29
Hunt End Industrial Estate
Dunlop Road
Redditch
United Kingdom
B97 5XP

Please enclose a completed Car sample form or a Furniture sample form. If you are posting an item such as a headrest or small trim panel, please send it by Recorded Post and we shall return it by the same or a similar secure method at your cost. Unfortunately, we can’t colour match to photographs due to ambient light, reflections, etc.

If you are emailing photographs in order to request our opinion, please do not send more than 2 photos.

SELF-MIXING OF COLOUR DYES

Some people are daunted by the mere mention of self-mixing colour dyes, whereas others may be more comfortable with the idea. Chances are, if you’re reading this, then your probably one of the latter.

Whether you’re just starting out, or simply looking to improve your colour-mixing skills, we’re put together some tips-of-the-trade to transform you into a colour-mixing master.

If you’re just making your first foray into the world of colour-mixing, then start out with a SCUFFmaster Pigment Starter Kit, along with a 250ml bottle of white SCUFFmaster Pigment. The SCUFFmaster Pigment Starter Kit contains 16 65ml bottles of the pigments we use in our mixes, and the white SCUFFmaster Pigment can be used as a blanking primer to go from a dark shade to a light shade or to cover a dark mark on the leather. How to mix colours and alter colours effectively

To mix colours quickly and effectively, it’s going to take some practice, and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. To help you along your way, however, the hints we have provided below should save you a little time in failed experiments.
Mixing cream, ivory and white dyes To mix cream, ivory or white coloured dyes, you will want to use white, light brown, tan and shading black pigments. Shading black and brown pigments are used when you want to dull the colour down, but these colours must be mixed in tiny increments and looked at from all angles before adding more, as side angles will tend to look darker. Blacks are generally better for making ivories, whereas brown is better for mixing cream colours.

Mixing black dyes

Mixing black may sound a little strange to some, but the truth is, blacks are rarely pure black. When you look carefully, especially from an angle, blacks often contain hints of other colours such as yellow or red. When mixing black dyes, start with deep black. If this is too dark, however, then start with shading black. Deep black can be darkened using purple, and if you’re lightening with white, be sure to add the white in tiny increments.

Mixing brown and tan dyes Browns

These tans are often considered the most difficult colours to mix. For tans, start with a tan pigment base and use yellow, then darken carefully with black, if required. Solid browns primarily use tan, black, and sometimes yellow. Lightening browns should generally be done with yellow, as white can turn the colour grey and dark brown will make the colour milky. Carmine can add richness to darker shades of tans and browns.

Mixing pink dyes

Experiment with white, Turkey red and light brown, using brown and blue to darken. Carmine works with some shades, but flame red should be avoided.

Mixing burgundy and antique red dyes

Carmine is the best base for burgundy and blue should be used to darken rather than black (black turns carmine brown if too much is used). Burgundy can be toned down using tan or light brown. Antique red top coats are made using carmine and blue gloss pigments, as rubine will result in a brownish finish.

Mixing green dyes

To mix light greens such as lagoon green, use white, lemon and shading black, and perhaps a hint of blue. Brown will darken greens. To mix aqua or lichen greens, use light brown, white, shading black and blue pigments. To make turquoise, use lemon, white and bright green.

Mixing blue dyes Blues

Can be another tricky colour to mix, but the most common colours to use are blue, shading black, light brown and white for dull blues, whereas carmine should replace the light brown for lighter shades of blue. For even lighter shades including pale blues, you can include lemon. If the standard blue pigment is too blue, try adding some bright green to mellow it out a little.

Mixing grey dyes

The mostly widely used pigments for grey dyes are shading black, white and light brown, sometimes with a small amount of carmine. Blue can sometimes come out of the black when lightened, but you can try adding dark brown to remove the blue tint. To darken, use brown rather than black unless you want that blue tint. If you find your dye coming out with an unwanted yellow tint after using light brown, then try a little rubine or carmine, which will usually solve this problem.
Mixing red and orange dyes To make scarlet reds, try flame and light brown, then darken with blue, brown or carmine. To mix oranges, simply add a little more light brown or yellow, depending on the desired hue, but avoid darkening with black pigment.
Mixing yellow dyes Try using light brown and white to make yellows and add lemon to remove any pink tint. Shading black or brown can be used to darken, and sometime Turkey red. Keep in mind that any colour containing large amount of lemon will require a white base coat to cover damage.

Mixing for two-colour finishes

Although you are unlikely to get away with repairs to two-coloured finishes with one colour, you can usually adjust the base coat to make the top coat, or vice versa. For more information on two-colour finishes, read our Re-creating Mottled Two-Tone Finishes advice page.

Mixing pearl and metallic dyes Pearl finishes can either have a pearl finish applied in a thin layer over the dye, or can be mixed in with the dye itself. Metallic colours are similar, except the resulting tone is largely affected by the colour of the undercoat. For example; a light silver would result from a white undercoat whereas a dark silver would result from a grey undercoat.

The main rules for mixing and tinting colours are:
• Allow colours to dry in order to see their true colour
• Avoid whites in browns and blacks in reds
• Add tiny amounts of tint and test before adding more
• Look at the colour from all angles, in particular when a darkener is used on a light colour

CREATING MATCHING COLOUR FINISHES

When re-colouring leather, even the most perfectly matched colour mix doesn’t always look perfect when applied, as the leather will fade in sunlight and become smooth and shiny from use. To rectify this and to make your SCUFFmaster or Flexicote repair match the rest of the leather, you can adjust the finish in three ways.

1. To adjust the shine/matt of the leather, use GT21 Gloss Enhancer or GT22 Matt Enhancer.
2. Spray with sealant, using your own combination of matt and gloss.
3. Spray with our water-based aerosol sealants such as Leather Sealant Lacquer to reduce the brightness of the colour and match the used, un-repaired leather.

When your SCUFFmaster Dye or Flexicote Dye is mixed to match a sample taken from a hidden area of furniture, you will often find that the visible portion of leather has lost some colour, but this can be easily matched by using a Liquid Leather SCUFFmaster Pigment Starter Kit to adjust the dye colour.

RECREATING MOTTLED TWO-TONE FINISHES

Mottled two-tone finishes are quite a popular look on leather, but this can make re-colouring and repairing a little tricky. You will almost always need two different coloured SCUFFmaster Dyes or Flexicote Dyes to achieve this, and they must be applied in two layers. We can supply both the top coat and the bottom coat colours from a sample you supply. You must also be careful not to apply the top coat to the undamaged leather, as this will result in a second layer of top coat which will appear darker.

If your leather has a top coat colour in blobs, streaks and patches, try a natural sea sponge or even a feather to apply the dye.
If your leather has a different colour in the veins of the leather, simply apply the bottom coat and allow it to dry, then apply the top coat (making sure it soaks into the veins) and lightly wipe off after a couple of minutes with a damp Cotton Cloth. This should remove the top coat from the raised portion of the leather but not from the recessed veins.

If you are creating a two-tone effect with Flexicote Dye, then be sure to use a sealant before adding the top layer, or the dyes will blend together.

RE-COLOURING AN ENTIRE FURNITURE SUITE

If you are re-colouring an entire furniture suite, either your own or for a customer, you first want to make sure you have a large warm and dry area in which to work, and make sure the surround area is protected from overspray.

As with any re-colouring project, you will first need to thoroughly clean and prime the leather, as described in the Cleaning Prior to Re-colouring and Priming Leather for Colour advice pages, then it’s simply a matter of methodically working over every surface of the suite, re-stuffing cushions if necessary.

For areas that fold over themselves and make colouring awkward, you may need to use sticks or clamps to keep the surfaces separate whilst they dry. These areas should be completed first.

For colour-contrasting piping on cushions, use a plastic card to wedge between the piping and the main panel and separate the colours. NEVER use masking tape or painter’s tape, as the colours will bleed through.

USING FLEXICOTE FOR WELL-WORN LEATHER



Flexicote dyes are specially developed for repairing badly damaged leather, and they carry twice the strength of normal dyes. Unlike SCUFFmaster Dyes, Flexicote Dyes require a sealant to protect the dye and provide a dry surface. Flexicote Dyes also contain twice the pigment content of standard dyes, making them ideal for re-colouring. Flexicote Dyes should only be used when re-colouring a complete panel rather than localised repairs. For localised repairs, SCUFFmaster Dyes with built in sealant are recommended.

Due to the strength and flexibility of Flexicote, it is highly recommended for use on panels that receive heavy wear or are subject to frequent spills and high levels of dirt.

Before applying Flexicote, the leather should be very well conditioned with GT11 Leather Conditioner, as leather treated with Flexicote seals in existing conditioning agents meaning they will not need to be replenished, but also blocks out any future conditioners due to its water tight sealant.

Both gloss and matt sealants are provided with Flexicote Dyes, allowing you to mix them to your preferred finish.

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