Why is the finish drying streaky?

A streaky finish is typically caused by over-working the color as it begins to dry. This is remedied by dabbing or stippling the color rather than using a back-and-forth swiping motion. You can also apply a single spritz of water from a spray bottle to the color before it dries to help it flow, soften any marks, and extend your working time.

Consider these other factors:

  • Material type and grain – In general, vinyl tends to be fussier than real leather and requires a little finesse in application. Smooth leathers lacking a distinct grain can also be difficult. Weathered, porous, or sun-rotted surfaces may also soak up the color unevenly, in which case a mixing a glaze of 2 parts Clear Prep+Finish™ + 1 color is recommended for the first coat.
  • Surface temperature – If a surface is too hot, the color will begin to dry before you have evenly dispersed it, which will result in a streaky, uneven appearance.
  • Sponge moisture – Make sure your sponge is not too dry nor sopping wet. Too much water may erase your work, dilute the color, and streak the surface. Too little moisture in the sponge creates more friction and can etch the surface.
  • Color dispersion – Periodically stir or gently swirl the bottom of the bottle of Rub ‘n Restore® Color, as mineral pigments settle faster and may cause the liquid base to go on chalky and streaky. Don’t shake Clear Prep+Finish™ or Rub ‘n Restore® Colors, as this creates foam which may dry as spots on the surface.

If streakiness persists, consider applying the color with a spray gun.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary says

    Hello, I used your product ( midnight blue) to cover a leather kitchen stool and it dried streaky and chalky looking, what can I do to correct this as I have two more to do and do not want this to happen on my other ones!

    Thank you

    • lesandre says

      Chalky? Be sure you’re stirring and dabbing to avoid streaks. Clear Prep+Finish can be used to add luster. Be sure you’re working with real leather or vinyl and not faux leather. We can be of more help if you email photos to info@rubnrestore.com.

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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.