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How do I match the color of leather or vinyl?

Approximate matches can be obtained by looking at color swatches and comparing the colors to the original. 

For an exact match, colors need to be tested directly on a sample of the material. A professional service (like Rub ‘n Restore) will do this for you by mail. You send a sample, and a professional will advise if any stock colors off the shelf (or perhaps mixes of colors) will match. Instructions are provided to help you mix one or more shades. Alternatively, a unique custom color can be formulated that can be applied directly from the bottle with no mixing required. Learn more about our color matching services.

You can also bring your upholstery to a service for restoration (or sometimes they’ll come to you) but the cost will be upwards of $800.

Consider these factors in matching your color:

  • Every manufacturer has their own version of mahogany or ivory. Don’t assume the color will match because the name is the same. 
  • Colors display differently on screens and devices. Do not accept a color matched from an image.
  • Do you need an exact match to touch-up a small area? Or does the whole piece need refinishing, in which case a similar but inexact color will work?
  • Swatches often do not resemble their faded counterparts. If so, neither will the mix, so you may have to recolor the entire piece. In this instance, choose a similar stock option.

This video shows how leather fades, examples of different finishes, and how to select a sample for matching.

Video contents:

  • 0:14 – Which color are you matching? Example of how leather fades
  • 0:28 – Comparison of our stock colors to the original and faded leather
  • 1:00 – Example of base-and-print finish
  • 1:29 – Example of multi-toned, distressed, or antiqued finish
  • 1:55 – Example of our Color Analysis service
  • 2:15 – How to find a sample to send for matching
  • 2:53 – Mailing address

Rub ‘n Restore, Inc. can match your color if you provide a sample and pay a fee. Details of our services below.

First, please fill out the Project Evaluation to help us assess your needs. 

Starter Color Analysis

Starter Color Analysis is the affordable color matching solution that enables you to mix your own color. We determine which colors and ratios closely match the original, giving you the ability to experiment and produce numerous different shades. If this sounds scary, and you want it ready-to-go from the bottle, choose our Advanced Matching & Custom Color service.

Starter Analysis with our line of colors gets ‘ballpark’ on 70% of swatches received, especially earth tones, medium and dark browns. If we can’t get a great match with these colors, we will suggest upgrading to the the Advanced Matching & Custom Color service at a discount.

Purchase Starter Color Analysis

You can purchase with credit card or include a check with your swatch. We’ll analyze your swatch and contact you with a recommendation within 1-2 business days after receipt. Colors and Clear Prep+Finish™ are sold separately.

Please note that there may be a slight variation between our analysis and your results after mixing larger volumes of color. That being said, the color blends easily, and most folks are thrilled with the results. Just look at the reviews!

Advanced Matching & Custom Color

Our Advanced Matching service formulates a unique Custom Color. This is recommended for bright primary or secondary colors or for auto interiors requiring an exact match.

Send us a swatch, and we will contact you to discuss the project and create an order. Once funds are received, turnaround time is 1-2 business days. Your Custom Color will work ‘out of the bottle’,  though some experimentation and creativity on your part will be necessary to create mottled or printed finishes. We will recommend techniques and any other products needed during the initial consultation.

Start Your Custom Color

Our formulation process starts with mixing a small amount of color and testing it on your original sample. We examine it in sunlight and indoors. We adjust the color accordingly and re-examine until we are content with the formula. This is a painstaking process done with a professional eye. No computer can read the color on a textured surface nor write a formula as accurately, and certainly not without human refinement. This is especially true with base-and-print or mottled samples.

We then expand the formula to the desired volume. This final color is tested once more on the original sample and adjusted if necessary. We then use the Custom Color to stain a piece of leather or vinyl. Half is returned to you with your order (and any components you may have sent); the other is retained on file in the event of a future re-order.

Our reviews and this video show how pleased others have been with this service.


These are DIY products. Half the magic is in the application process. Our products are easy to use and forgiving but require some creativity and experimentation on your part.

Most samples that we receive are base-and-print or multi-toned. We mix a single color that your eye reads as a match from a short distance. You can choose to work with a single color or two, but replicating the appearance of the original material is up to you.

Swatches often do not resemble their faded counterparts. If so, neither will our mix, and you may have to recolor the entire piece. In this instance, you may prefer going with a less expensive stock option.

Return Policy

We do not accept returns or offer refunds for Custom Colors unless we find fault in the product or match to the sample provided. Please read our complete return policy.

Reader Interactions


  1. Carole Metcalf says

    i bought rub n restore off of Pinterest didnt realize i needed to purchase a color with it. I thought i could rub the clear on my sun faded couch and it would be ok like the video said. Can i try that and then put color over that if i dont like the look? thank u

    • lesandre says

      Yep! The Clear Prep+Finish™ acts as a primer on rough or worn leather too. It won’t correct sunfading (loss of pigment), but you’re fine adding color later.

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The Knowledge Hub is a library of articles and videos complied to help our customers complete their DIY leather and vinyl restoration projects.