Dyes can be used to darken leather (but not synthetics like vinyl). Finishes (paints) are more versatile in that they can be used to darken or lighten the color of leather and vinyl.
Using a paint to change color may require periodic touch-up and result in more maintenance than simply matching and restoring the original color.
Absorbent aniline or semi-aniline leather will wear better than non-absorbent leather and vinyl that repel water and other liquids.
Thorough cleaning and prep are critical to get the best result! For non-absorbent materials, use our pink cleaner and step up to a more aggressive solvent like lacquer thinner or paint thinner.
The following are not great candidates due to the potential maintenance:
- worn, scaly or thinning leather;
- loosely upholstered furniture with lots of wrinkles, folds, deep creases (and therefore stress);
- pieces that receive a lot of contact with chemicals / liquids or critters (particularly dog claws);
- seats in cars or boats (for these we suggest a heavier urethane coating);
- bonded, faux or polyurethane (PU) ‘leather’ which resist all coatings (including their own);
- or changing from dark or bright colors to pale or white shades.
In the latter case, consider a coat of Stone grey as a primer. White is the heaviest pigment and has the poorest coverage. This means you may use 2-3 times the normal quantity and will have a thicker, heavier and less flexible finish that will wear more easily and require more touch-up.
Here’s what wear and discoloration look like:
Touch-up is easy and mitigated by:
- choosing a color that is an analogous to the original color (i.e. nearby on the color wheel);
- choosing a color with a similar value (light, medium or dark);
- dabbing or stippling the color to create a marbled or distressed appearance so future wear will look natural and intended.
Our products are water-based acrylic finishes (paints). Acrylics can be less durable than urethanes and require touch-up. However, acrylics don’t feel plasticky like urethanes. Acrylics also don’t crack or flake, so stripping and sanding are not needed prior to touching up. Still, if you’re wanting to change the color of a boat or auto interior, you might consider a heavier urethane or aerosol.
|Change Color||Match Color|
|More product needed||Less product needed|
|More labor required||Less labor involved|
|Touch-up likely and varies||Little to no touch-up|
|Available now||Wait until sample received; our turnover is swift|
|May be as expensive as matching, depending on scope of project||Matching fee; 8 oz. order minimum for Advanced Custom Color|
|Discouraged for auto, RV, boat interiors||Recommended for auto, RV, boat upholstery, primary or secondary colors|
The video below demonstrates a change from a dark green to a solid, lighter tan color in five coats using Rub ‘n Restore®.
- 0:08 – Cleaning and prep
- 0:48 – First coat of color
- 1:36 – Second coat
- 2:10 – Third coat
- 2:36 – Fourth coat
- 2:54 – Fifth coat
- 3:12 – Final result