How Do Professional Cleaners Dye or Recolour Leather Couches?

From furniture to car seats to apparel, leather continues to be a popular natural material for a wide variety of applications. However, despite being a highly durable material, leather can fade over time and lose its original lustre.

But there is nothing to worry about. Faded or dull leather furniture is not a lost cause. You can restore discoloured leather by dyeing it. If you’re planning to dye your leather furniture on your own, you should know that dyeing leather involves a lot of trial and error. There is no foolproof way to guarantee a successful result on your first attempt. Before dyeing something like a couch, it would be better to start with smaller items like belts or wallets.

Why should I consider dyeing my leather furniture?

There are a number of reasons why people consider dyeing leather upholstery. One of the most common reasons is the aesthetic appeal. Maybe your leather couch has discoloured overtime or the current shade no longer matches your interiors. Apart from enhancing visual look, dyeing leather may also be necessary for damaged leather. If any area is repaired, you will want it to match with the rest of the furniture.

How do professionals dye or recolour leather couches?

Dyeing leather isn’t a straightforward process. The products and methods used for dyeing leather vary depending on the type of leather and preferred finish. Here we’re sharing a common process used by professionals for effectively dyeing leather upholstery.

1. Prepping the Leather

The first step is prepping the leather for dye application. Ideally, the furniture should be taken outside or to a well-ventilated room to minimise any fumes released from dyes. The furniture is moved on to a plastic sheet to prevent the dye from ruining your floors.

Experts start by thoroughly cleaning the leather to remove any waxes, oils, dust particles and silicones. These elements can prevent the dye from adhering to the leather and thus, should be effectively removed.

Next, an abrasive pad with a leather prepping product is used to remove the existing finish. Dyeing over finished leather can prove to be futile as the dye may fail to penetrate the surface. After rubbing with a damp abrasive pad, the colour transfers from the leather to the pad. If there are any cracks or creasing in the leather, they are filled using a leather filler for a smoother appearance.

Followed by that, professional cleaners wipe down the furniture with alcohol-based cleaners. This is necessary to remove finishes that aren’t soluble in solvents. The leather furniture is left for at least half an hour or till the cleaning products completely evaporate.

2. Preparing the Dye

Oil-based and water-based dyes are two commonly used options for recolouring leather sofa and other upholstery. Both have their own set of advantages. Oil-based dyes have shown to provide an even coat without drying out the leather too much. On the other hand, water-based leather dyes are available in a myriad of shades and unique finishes. But consistent coat can be achieved using both.

A leather dyeing expert dilutes the dye with a dye reducer or water to achieve a smoother look. Professionals prefer to apply several coats as opposed to getting the perfect finish with just one coat.

3. Applying Base Coat

Moving on the actual dyeing process, experts use a sponge, or a cloth dipped in dye to apply the base coat. Basecoat is the most important coat and requires patience. They glove up and using a light circular motion, start applying the dye to the surface. A light touch is crucial to avoid an uneven and patchy dye job. Once the sponge has run out of dye, they dip it again and go over the area that might not have been properly covered in dye. The next coat is applied only when the previous one has completely dried. A hairdryer or any other drying tool can be used to speed up the drying process. They ensure every surface and edge, including the backside, has an even coating.

4. Applying Second & Third Coat

Depending on the type of leather and desired look, the second coat may be applied in the same manner as before or in a leftward diagonal motion. When the second coat is dry, a third coat is applied in the previously mentioned manner or in a rightward diagonal motion.

5. Condition the Leather

Applying more coats dries out the leather more, especially in case of water-based dyes. That’s why it’s imperative to restore the moisture before sealing the leather. Or else, the leather becomes prone to cracking. Professionals use a wax-based conditioner to re-moisturise the leather. The leather conditioner is applied in a circular motion to thoroughly re-hydrate the leather. The leather furniture may be left to set for a few hours or overnight before applying the finishing coat.

6. Applying Finishing Coat

Applying a finishing coat cannot be overlooked. Otherwise, anyone sitting on your newly-dyed leather sofa will end up with soiled clothes. Some popular leather finishes include gloss, semi-gloss, semi-matt, matt and satin. Satin is typically used for furniture, while semi-matt is a preferred finish for car interiors.

Leather specialists may use a circular motion as before or an airbrush to apply the finish. Again, the second coat is applied only when the previous one is completely dry. After the finish is applied, the furniture should be left to dry and shouldn’t be touched or used for at least one day.

7. Buffing

After the finish has completely dried, the expert uses a cotton cloth to buff the leather upholstery. Buffing is necessary to remove excess dye sitting on the top of the grain that wasn’t absorbed by the leather. This gives the leather an even shine.

Are you thinking of tinting leather furniture on your own? It’s always advised to do a dye test run before dyeing the entire piece. Dyeing leather is not as simple as it might. It’s a tricky job that requires lots and lots of practice and patience. You need to have a thorough understanding of different types of leather and how a particular type of leather will react to dye. Instead of attempting to do it yourself and risking ruining an expensive piece of furniture, it’s best to consult experts for tinting leather furniture.