- This article details step by step instructions for re-colouring pigmented (top coated) leather using professional products that require use of a spray gun or airbrush. If you'd like to restore car seats using our DIY sponge on method - CLICK HERE
- Does not apply to Aniline, Nubuck or Suede leather. If unsure about leather type test first in a hidden area by rubbing a drop of water on an undamaged area. If the water penetrates the surface and darkens the leather, it is likely the leather is porous & absorbent. A main characteristic of Aniline leather. If water doesn't penetrate the leather, it's pigmented leather - which means it has a coloured finish on the surface that prevents the water from soaking in to the leather.
- Changing colour of leather surfaces is more work than refreshing the original colour. You need far more paint, time and extra help to colour in all folds, nooks and crannies.
- When re-colouring leather professionally, you will need a spray gun or an airbrush as all the products will need to be sprayed.
STEP 1 - CLEAN, DEGREASE & PREP SURFACE
- De-assemble upholstery and covers as much as possible.
- Remove any dust from the leather with a vacuum cleaner or with compressed air. Compressed air is ideal for cleaning folds and piping edges. Remove any remaining dust with a soft brush.
- Clean visibly soiled and dirt on leather using Geist. Rapid Cleaner (Plant-based) for light soiling or Geist. Rapid Cleaner PRO for heavy dirt. Do not work too wet on damaged areas. Use Geist. Leather & Vinyl Cleaning Brush to agitate dirt and lift soiling from the grain of the leather.
- Cleaning removes dirt but removing grease is an important part of the process too. De-greasing ensures good paint adhesion and forms the basis of a good repair. Pour Geist. Surface Prep on a clean cloth and wipe to degrease and get rid of uneven levels of top coat (lacquer) on leather. Surface Prep dissolves the existing paint layers and leaves the surface feeling tacky and sticky for a few minutes. Do not panic! The tackyness will subside after a few minutes on its own but do not rub aggressively if you feel the cloth starts grabbing the surface. Making sure you have enough product on the cloth is key to degreasing the surface properly. Carefully sand the surface with Geist. Leather & Vinyl Sanding Pads and remove dust with a dry cloth. Cleaning, degreasing and light sanding are important processes to ensure optimal colour adhesion!
- Ensure you mask off all areas and car interior that you don't intend to re-colour. If spraying with seats in situ, be mindful that overspray can end up on dashboards etc making it difficult & tedious to clean later. Try to take the seats out if restoring the full interior. Bolster repairs can be carried out with seats in situ.
- When repairing cracks and rips, first smooth down sharp edges by sticking the edges together with Geist. Leather Glue. Areas requiring filling work will need to be filled with Geist. Leather Filler (PRO). For long lasting results, use a sponge and apply Geist. Primer to damaged areas before filling. These are small details but they greatly improve the adhesion of the filler and thus provide a long lasting and durable repair. Using the filler, spread a light film about five millimetres left and right of the filled crack or rip. Let the filler dry naturally. Depending on the amount used, it can take anywhere between 5 - 25 mins to dry - longer if you are filling a hole on leather. Repeat the filling procedure if required. Any unevenness and high spots can be removed with a Geist. Leather Sanding Pad & Geist. Dissolve. Important: Extremely old, brittle and weak leather should be replaced entirely. They can be repaired cosmetically, but colour and filler can never replace the leather’s strength.
- Spray a thin layer of Geist. Primer at low pressure (approx. 2 bar/15-32 psi) until the surface becomes slightly sticky after drying. Avoid thick coats of primer. The surface should be well coated with the product. Excessive product application will cause it to run. If this happens, dab runs using a sponge and try to spread the product.
- Filter Geist. Leather & Vinyl Paint before filling it into the spray gun. Apply the colour at low pressure (approx. 2 bar/15-32 psi) evenly and not too thickly. Always apply multiple thin layers and dry with a heat gun before applying the next layer until the surface is evenly coloured. Apply the colour only as thinly as necessary: Thick layers of colour affect stability and grip of the surface. Pull apart folds and piping edges and treat those first. Always wear appropriate PPE during spraying. Work only in a well-ventilated space.
- Mix Geist. Top Coat with COLOURLOCK Crosslinker IC2. Details of exact mixing ratios can be found here. Stir well and filter! Spray the mixture thinly over the dried colour and dry with a heat gun. Repeat if necessary. Mix only as much Top Coat with Crosslinker as you need in the following two hours. The Crosslinker is reactive and should not get in contact with water and humidity. Keep away from skin and eyes!
- Primer, Leather & Vinyl Paint and Top Coat can be dried with a heat gun. Carry out each of these steps in immediate succession without any wait time to ensure the fresh layers connect and crosslink well.
- Finally, smooth down rough areas with Geist. 4000 Sanding Pad. This levels out any high spots left over and leaves a smooth finish. Then, if necessary, again apply colour or only Top Coat.
- After 24 hours, rub a moist cloth on the repaired surface to be sure that the surface has sufficiently been treated with Top Coat. In case of discolouration, treat with Top Coat again.
- For added protection, spray Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker via the spray gun to further protect against wear and scratches.
- One week after colouring, apply Geist. Leather Conditioner Regularly repeat this care two to four times a year.
Training - If you are a professional and want to learn how to repair leather, please visit our training page for further details. Our trainings are held throughout the year at multiple locations across UK, EU & USA.