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Can my leather furniture be repaired?

Leather is an organic material, and much like wood, has properties that allow for damage to be corrected. So, cuts, stains, abrasions, ink, etc., are usually correctable. The determining factors are the nature and integrity of the leather, as well as the type and location of the damage.

Generally speaking, if the integrity of the leather is sound, it can be repaired. In a worst case scenario, if a leather panel is damaged beyond any viable repair, then a new panel can be cut, colour-matched to the original, and installed to replace the damaged panel.

How do I clean my leather furniture?

Soiling and staining detracts from the beauty of your leather, whether in a car, home or office. With the right products and techniques you can usually affect dramatic results by cleaning and conditioning your leather, as long as it qualifies for cleaning. Delicate leather such as calf skin, suede and nubuck must be treated carefully. Whereas fully finished leather (colour coated) responds well.

As a general rule, simply wiping the leather down with a slightly damp, white cotton cloth as often as you'd dust your wood furniture is sufficient, unless the leather is indeed soiled. This will effectively remove topical dust.

If the leather is soiled, the correct product should be used. The key is to make sure the cleaner is chemically engineered for leather. If you use the wrong cleaner, you can damage the leather, weakening its internal fibrous structure and shortening the leather’s life. Leather is acidic with a pH of about 4.5. To avoid unintended damage, the cleaner should be pH-balanced to your leather. Leather Restoration Co. has chemically engineered it's own leather cleaner after discovering most retail cleaners to be too alkaline. Avoid products like saddle soap, or harsh general-purpose household cleaners. These products are too alkaline and will potentially harm your leather.

For best results, the cleaner should have both cleaning and degreasing properties. The cleaner should be able to work on the topical soiling as well as resolve topical body oils from hands, head (skin that comes in contact with leather) or pets. It should not be so harsh as to disrupt the top coat (protective clear coating) on the leather. Leather Restoration Co.'s leather cleaner is perfect for this process.

Once the correct cleaning product is selected, application technique is important to maximize the cleaner’s effectiveness. We recommend using an exfoliating glove, micro-fiber cloth or terrycloth towel. Apply the cleaner to the glove, or cloth. Use about two table spoons. Massage it into the cleaning tool and gently scrub the leather, cleaning about a 300-400ml square area at a time. Rub the cleaner in the target area for 30 – 45 seconds. Let the cleaning solution sit for a minute or two while you repeat the application of cleaner and gentle scrubbing process on the next section of leather. This allows the chemistry of the cleaner to work on releasing the ground-in dirt particles from the leather. Using a terry cloth towel, (slightly damp is good) wipe the soapy soil residue away. Make sure to turn the towel to clean areas so that you can see the soiling coming up from the leather. If there is deep ground in soiling, repeat the process as necessary.

In many cases, with regular dusting, the only real maintenance procedure the leather requires is conditioning. The goal of conditioning is to re-instill lost moisture (leather will dry out over time without conditioning) and return a degree of luster back to the leather. The same general chemistry rules apply. Make sure it’s a conditioner that is pH-balanced to leather. Non-greasy, creme- or gel-consistency formulas work best as they don’t leave an oily or sticky residue, and are easy to apply.

Leather should be conditioned periodically with a frequency that depends on the dryness of the environment. Hot, dry climates require conditioning every 4 – 6 weeks while humid, cool climates perhaps once or twice a year.

Apply a dollop (few table spoons) of conditioner to a soft white cotton cloth. Then simply wipe the conditioner onto the leather. It does not require a lot of effort or material to accomplish the goal. It’s a simple wipe down procedure. If you feel you’ve put too much conditioner on the leather, then wipe off the excess with a dry cloth. Let the conditioner dry (absorb into the leather) for an hour or two before use. That’s all there is to it.

Like everything else in life, quality products will produce better results. Leather Restoration Co.'s cleaners and conditioners have all been chemically-engineered with the finest ingredients to produce professional level results.

Finally, keep in mind that cleaning your leather may not solve your problem. To resolve issues such as sun-fading, deep dye transfer (from fabrics or printed materials), heavy body oil accumulation, damage to the leather such as cuts, scrapes, etc., or colour coating wear may require leather restoration and colour application, which is the next step beyond a simple cleaning.

We’re here to help. If you have questions about the process or our products, call 0430 224 300 or email patbates@leatherrestoration.com.au for advice regarding your particular needs.

Will I see the repair?

Using the correct materials, a skilled technician can make damage seem to disappear. In some cases the damage will be invisible, other times (depending on severity) it may appear as a natural characteristic of the hide.

How long will the repair last?

Under normal use conditions, you can expect the repaired area to last as long as the surrounding leather.

What about the colour, can you match it?

Our technicians are experts at colour matching, even in cases where there is colour variation or mottling to the colour. In those cases, we would artistically re-create the effect in the areas where there is colour damage.

How can I remove ink from my leather furniture?

Ink is a dye. Your leather has literally been re-coloured to the colour of that ink in the affected area. As such, it is not something that can be "cleaned", as any cleaning compound that is strong enough to remove the ink, will also remove the surface colour of the leather. Ink sticks are available from various sources. However, we urge caution, as there are generally two outcomes.

  1. The ink is removed along with the surrounding colour, leaving a larger, "bleached" area.
  2. The ink is smeared, leaving a larger smudge mark.

There are some things you can try. Using a soft, white artist's eraser, gently trail down the ink line with the eraser. This may lighten the ink stripe. Another strategy is to do nothing. One of ink's attributes is that it migrates into porous materials. If there is a small amount of ink, it may dissipate into the leather, presenting a decreasing amount on the surface, and may eventually fade away entirely. This is unlikely with any heavy concentration of ink.

Keep in mind that the ink isn't harming the leather, and is an aesthetic issue only. In the end, the ink can be removed successfully, but may require professional attention.

My leather sofa is badly faded. Can the colour be restored?

Yes. As long as the integrity of your leather is sound, the colour can be successfully restored with a topically applied leather finish (commonly but incorrectly referred to as Leather Dye) that has been mixed to approximate your original colour. When correctly done, the leather will appear to be like-new.

I have an oil-based stain on my cushion, what can I do?

Oils have a tendency to dissipate into leather. As such, small concentrations of oil may gradually disappear. To accelerate the process, apply dry corn starch directly to the affected area, covering the stain. Let the corn starch draw oil up out of the leather for 4-8 hours. Gently wipe away, and then repeat the process as necessary. Keep in mind that this is a home remedy with no detriment to the leather, but of limited effectiveness.

For larger concentrations of oil, or oil stains that do not respond to this treatment, Leather Restoration Co. have developed chemical extractors that can remove these problems.

My recliner has small tears occurring at the seams, can this be fixed?

It is very likely that the seam(/s) in question is a point where a vinyl panel meets a leather panel, and the small tears are on the vinyl section of that seam. This occurs when either the vinyl is stressed beyond its tensile strength (much less than that of leather), or loses its moisture (and therefore flexibility) as its oils migrate into the adjacent leather panel. This is not correctable, except through re-upholstery, which is generally not cost-effective on a leather/vinyl piece.

However, if the seam involves the mating of two leather panels, then there are repair options available. If the thread has broken, and the stitch-line is intact, then it can be re-stitched using the existing holes. If the leather itself is torn along the stitch-line, then often the seam can be taken in, avoiding the need for replacing the leather.

My cat has scratched my leather sofa, can you fix that?

Cat claw (or dog claw, for that matter) scratches are a very common problem on even heavily finished leathers, and are correctable. The number of scratches will determine whether the problem can be resolved in the home, or needs to be addressed at our factory.

I love my leather chair, but the cushion is completely worn out, what can I do?

If the finish on your existing leather is worn away, but the integrity of the leather is still good, then we can refinish it, restoring it to like-new.

However, if the integrity of the leather is beyond salvage, then we can construct a new cushion with new leather that is custom-matched to your original colour.

I have a cigarette burn on my leather couch, can it be fixed?

Burns, or scorch marks can be repaired.

I have a purple leather sofa, and I want it to be black, can you do that?

Yes, it is not unusual that a client wants us to change the colour of their furniture. Though it is more expensive than restoring a piece to its original colour, a colour change is an option.

There is a dark spot on the headrest of my husband's favorite leather recliner. What's that all about?

A darkening of a headrest or handrest area on a leather piece is an indication of body-oil build-up. This is correctable, as long as it is addressed before the oil saturation can permanently damage the leather. The oil build-up would be chemically extracted from the leather, and then the area could be recoloured to its original.

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