Frequently Asked Questions

Product Info

Can it be used on faux leather?

Most faux leathers are polyester or synthetic fabric with a polyurethane (PU) coating, not to be confused with vinyl (PVC).

Faux leather that is peeling, flaking or delaminating from its own backing is rarely worth repairing. Learn how you'd repair it and why we don't recommend it here.

Faux leather that has worn more naturally, exposing a microfiber or fake suede without any peeling, can be stained with our finishes and coated with a clear wax to restore the leather-like appearance. Learn how here.

Will it change the texture of leather or vinyl?

Rub 'n Restore® colors and clear finishes are water-based acrylics and do not alter the feel of leather or vinyl. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Absorbent aniline leather with a warm velvety texture may slightly cool in feel after being refinished. The leather will continue to breathe and may remain absorbent, but it will be more fade and stain resistant.
  • Worn areas or materials with a subtle nap like suede, nubuck or microfiber may stiffen as a result of being refinished / painted, and we discourage using our products on these materials.
Will it stain clothing?

Rub 'n Restore® finishes, once dry, will not stain clothing.

Color transference to a paper towel or white clothing is sometimes observed with bright colors containing a lot of primary (red, blue, yellow) pigments. Buff the surface with a dry rag to remove any unstable pigment, and consider an additional clear sealer. 

If color has transferred to clothing, pre-treat the garment with detergent (washing soda or borax are even better, if you have them) and a gentle scrub brush. Then launder as usual. The color should wash out.

 

How long does it take to dry and cure?

Filler putty is cured when mostly clear and no longer tacky. A heat lamp, incandescent bulb, or sunny window are typically needed. Humid climates can slow cure time. 

Rub ‘n Restore® finishes dry in minutes. When it feels dry, it is dry and ready for another coat or use. 

Cure time (when the color is unaffected by water) varies depending on temperature and humidity. For example, leather seats in a car parked in the Arizona summer sun will cure in a day. A boat in a humid climate may take weeks to cure but can still be used.

Prevent water from pooling on any surface for extended periods of time. The worst that may occur is slight discoloration of the finish, and this often ‘dries down’. If it doesn’t, simply touch-up the color, and allow more time to cure before exposure to water.

Will the color need touch-up?

Changing the color of leather or vinyl will require periodic touch-up. Ensure the surface is clean and free of body oil or conditioner, and reapply as needed. Click here for a video and more info.

What is the shelf-life?

Soft Filler repair putty will last any where from six months to two years. Minimize air exposure and keep refrigerated to extend its shelf-life.

Rub ‘n Restore® colors and clear finishes are guaranteed for one year from date of purchase, though we find these products are shelf-stable for many more. Store finishes in a temperate, dark place away from children. Rubber band your stir stick to the bottle, and use it to re-disperse the pigments until smooth and creamy. Colors that have sat a long time may need several minutes of vigorous stirring to reconstitute the color.

How is Rub 'n Restore® different than other leather finishes?

Our finishes (paints) are pigment-rich water-based acrylics designed for leather and vinyl upholstery. Acrylics emulate the texture of the material; they don't look or feel plasticky like urethanes or spray paints. Acrylics also wear more naturally, so touch-up doesn't involve harsh chemicals to strip peeling paint. 

Assess Your Needs

What's the difference between leather dye and leather paint?

Dyes are in the leather and are prone to fading. Finishes (paints) coat the leather on the outside and are more stain and fade resistant. Leather paints are usually either acrylic (like Rub 'n Restore®) or urethane.

Most leathers are both dyed and finished. Vinyl can only be painted. Learn more about the differences between dyes and finishes and your needs here.

How do I know if my material is leather, vinyl or faux leather?

Auto interiors are usually leather and matching vinyl.

Boat upholstery is almost always vinyl.

A wide array of materials are used on home furniture. A tag may state what the outer upholstery fabric is. Removable cushions are a sign of good quality leather. So is price. As of 2018, average quality top grain leather cost US$100 / yard. A typical three-seat sofa requires 15-20 yards of material and costs $1500 - $2000 in leather alone. If you bought a new couch for under US$2000, it's likely faux leather.

Learn more about the many types of real and artificial leathers here. If you're still unsure, consult a pro here.

Can I refinish a small area and avoid doing the whole piece?

Yes, but you need a matching color, and you may still have to do some blending. 

Do I need a sealer or clear finish?

Most Rub 'n Restore® colors do not need a clear sealer. The exception is bright primary or secondary colors (reds, blues, Forest, Persimmon and Eggplant), and there are two options:

  • Clear Prep+Finish™ can be used alone for a glossy finish. It can also be mixed with any color (what we call a glaze) to create anything from a satin to semi-gloss finish. The extra clear in the final topcoat of color improves durability and prevents color transference on bright colors. A glaze can be used throughout on absorbent leather.
  • Special order Satin or Dull Sealers are recommended for bright colors wanting a low luster finish. We also recommend them when changing the color of a piece that receives a lot of stress and better durability is needed. Learn more about these sealers here, as they can be a little more tricky to use.

 

Mixing, Matching or Changing Color

Can colors be mixed together or modified with other pigments?
How do I match color?

An approximate match can be achieved by ordering color swatches and comparing them to the leather. For an exact match, it's best to send a sample and pay a fee for testing of colors or customization. Learn more about matching color here

Can I change color? Can I go lighter?

Yes, but changing color may involve more maintenance than restoring to original. A different color will wear better on absorbent aniline or semi-aniline leather. Non-absorbent leather or vinyl may need more frequent touch-up.

Thoroughly clean and test adhesion of the color to ensure the best result. Do not use our products to change the color of faux leather.

White is the heaviest pigment and has the poorest coverage. Thus, changing to white, ivory, beige, or ash grey will use 2-3x the normal quantity and will result in a thicker, heavier and less flexible finish. This will wear more easily and require more touch-up and is strongly discouraged.

Learn more about changing color here before proceeding.

I already used Rub 'n Restore®. Can I apply a new color over it?

Yes! You don’t have to strip the previous color. However, less is ultimately more, because our products are a finish (paint), not a dye. The type, quality, and condition of the material as well as the current and desired colors are all factors that can affect the durability of a color change. Stripping the previous Rub ‘n Restore® color is recommended if you are restoring to original or changing to a lighter shade. Use denatured or rubbing alcohol, even paint thinner.

Quantity Needed

How much color and / or clear finish do I need?

In general:

2 oz. bottle ≈ one coat on 15 – 20 square feet (or three coats on 5 – 6 square feet) = $16 color / $8 clear
4 oz. bottle ≈ one coat on 30 – 40 square feet (or three coats on 10 - 13 square feet) = $30 color / $14 clear
8 oz. bottle ≈ one coat on 60 – 80 square feet (or three coats on 20 - 26 square feet) = $48 color / $21 clear
16 oz. bottle ≈ one coat on 120 – 160 square feet (or three coats on 40 - 53 square feet) = $70 color / $31 clear

The quality and condition of the material, the type of use it receives, and whether you're matching or changing color affect the quantity of color and clear finish needed. Click here for more info.

How much filler do I need?

Tears and holes require more filler than worn, scaly, or chafed areas that have not yet torn.

1 oz. tub ≈ couple thin coats on 4 sq ft (2 ft x 2 ft) of scaly leather OR 12 sq in (1 in x 1 ft) hole
2 oz. tub ≈ couple thin coats on 8 sq ft (2 ft x 4 ft) of scaly leather OR 24 sq in (1 in x 2 ft) hole

Click here for more info.

How To Repair & Restore

How do I clean before restoring?

Solvents like denatured or rubbing alcohol are the single most important cleaner for everything from mold, body oil, and ink.

Non-absorbent leather and vinyl should also be cleaned with our water-based degreaser

Learn more about cleaning leather and vinyl here.

How to repair leather or vinyl?

If you can feel the damage, it would benefit from repair.

Cat scratches and minor nicks on real leather are best repaired with super glue and sandpaper. 

Scaly, cracking leather and synthetics (vinyl) should be repaired with a flexible filler putty.

Holes or tears must first be subpatched. 

Learn how to repair all this and more here. If you need more help, consult a pro.

How to recolor and refinish?

Most folks apply our finishes with a damp sponge, but you can use a brush or spray gun. Click here for application instructions.

More techniques and tips for things like metal tacks and tufting are here.

Troubleshooting

Care & Maintenance

How do I condition leather after using Rub 'n Restore®?

Leather conditioners or wipes may discolor Rub 'n Restore® finishes and are discouraged. Such products are often silicone or oil-based and are not all that effective. In fact, most attract dirt and grime to the upholstery, and can chemically react with the finish.

Rub 'n Restore® is a lightweight acrylic finish that protects leather and vinyl from desiccation (drying out). Our colors have pigmentation that shield from UV damage and stains. They will not sunfade or attract dirt. As such, our products are superior to leather conditioners and are easily touched-up.

How do I clean leather or vinyl after using Rub 'n Restore®?

Leather wipes, soaps and other chemicals will gradually degrade the finish and may necessitate touch-up, so be minimalist in your cleaning. Start with a rag dampened with water. If you must use a cleaner, choose a mild soap diluted with water. Spray the cleaner onto a soft cloth, rather than directly on the surface, and use only where needed.

Other Applications

Shoes, jackets or handbags

We've used Rub ‘n Restore® to freshen leather shoes, boots, handbags, purses, jackets, and even pants. Because these items are heavily used, changing color is discouraged, particularly of non-absorbent materials. You'll find the color needs touch-up on areas that experience a lot of stress.

Do not use our products on stretchy kidskin leather, patent leather, nubuck, suede, microfiber or faux leather.

Motorcycle seats and saddlebags

Whether leather or vinyl, Rub ‘n Restore® can be used on your motorcycle's seat and saddlebags.

Seats are high-stress components, so it's best to stick with the original color. Saddlebags and other components, however, do not endure the same abuse as seats and thus are better candidates for a change of color. 

Amps, cases & trunks

Many vintage amps, cases or trunks were made of Tolex, Rexine or vinyl cloth. Our finishes work beautifully on these materials. Learn how to repair minor gouges here.

Plastic

Yes, Rub ‘n Restore® can be used on plastic too, but you'll want to first apply a plastic primer like Bulldog® or SEM® Plastic Adhesion Promoter (found at automotive paint supplies or online).

Restaurant seats and booths

Many restaurants and hotels have used Rub ‘n Restore® on their upholstery and seating. Learn more here.

Aircraft interiors

Our water-based leather finishes are exceptional for general aviation and fall within the realm of 'preventative maintenance'. Rub 'n Restore® is an inexpensive way to extend the life of the aircraft interiors and will not alter flammability characteristics. Learn more here.

Health & Safety

What are the ingredients, and are they safe?

Rub 'n Restore® products are safe for home use, around pets and children. Click here for safety data sheets and a breakdown of ingredients.

Does Rub 'n Restore® contain VOCs?

Rub 'n Restore® finishes exhibit a chemical odor in their liquid state. This odor is no worse than anything you’ll find in the laundry detergent aisle at a supermarket and less noxious than painting a room with interior latex. Once dry, the odor readily dissipates. More info about VOC content here

My dog is licking the finish. Is this safe?

There have been reports of dogs licking Rub ‘n Restore’d furniture and eating the compostable (corn) packing popcorns. No dogs have been injured as a result, but it's best they avoid these activities.

Shipping, Returns & Guarantee

Can I buy Rub 'n Restore® locally?

Sorry, our products are available only through our secure online store here

How long will it take to ship?

Orders received before 10 am MST on weekdays are typically processed same-day. Most domestic orders are shipped via Priority Mail unless otherwise requested. Packages over 6 lbs. may be shipped via UPS, as are all international orders.

Click here for more shipping information.

Do you ship internationally?

Yes, we use UPS, and you will likely have to pay duties. Rub 'n Restore, Inc. is not responsible for any duties or fees. Use coupon code internationalCLUB (case and space sensitive) to discount the cost of 8 or 16 oz. bottles of color.

Shipping costs are quoted at checkout based upon the weight of items in the shopping cart and the delivery address. Please provide a physical address, not a PO box.

Click here for more shipping information.

How do I return of exchange?
Is there a money-back or satisfaction guarantee?

Yes, if you submit a consultation, follow the recommendations therein, afford us the opportunity to troubleshoot any issues, and are not thrilled with the result, we will refund your money.

For those who do not consult with us prior, please ensure your project is a good candidate for Rub 'n Restore® products. We will refund your money if you follow our site's suggestions, instructions, and give us the opportunity to troubleshoot any issues.