Car leather reconditioning is needed to lengthen the life and maintain the beauty of the leather parts of your vehicle. The process includes repairing cracks, mending tears, and restoring the leather’s color, thus bringing it back to life. You will need this type of vehicle reconditioning to fix the damage after a collision, to increase the price and value of your vehicle if you’re planning to sell it, to fix daily wear and tear, or to restore a vintage or classic car.
But how do you go about it? What’s the proper way to recondition car leather? Read on and find out.
Car Leather Reconditioning: A Complete Guide
Car leather reconditioning is not an easy process. It involves three major steps: leather preparation, leather reconditioning, and sealing and finishing to achieve the best results. It is important not to miss a step and to use the best leather restoration for this auto reconditioning project.
Also, you will need to remove the car seats. Since you will be using several chemicals, this will prevent inhalation of toxic substances and avoid damage to other areas of your vehicle.
Ample preparation is key to a successful car leather reconditioning project. To prepare the leather of your car, you need to:
- Vacuum the areas to be reconditioned. This is to remove sand, dirt, and similar contaminants that can scratch the leather. If you’re reconditioning the leather car seat cover, vacuum the area where the backrest and seat meets. You might be surprised at the amount of dirt that’s in there.
- Clean the leather thoroughly. Cleaning leather involves two stages: cleaning with APC and prepping. This is to ensure that all contaminants, leftover color and waxes are totally removed. You also need to get stains out of leather car seats. Cleaning the leather may be time and effort consuming, but doing this will give you results you’ll be proud of.
You’ll need the following materials:
- 2 double-sided sponge pads
- Scrub brush
- All purpose cleaner (APC) diluted in some water
- Water for rinsing
- Microfiber cloth
- Leather prep
- Clean white cloth
NOTE: Dilution of APC will depend on the age and condition of the leather. Old and very dirty leather will require more APC.
Apply the APC solution with one of the double-sided sponge pad. Scrub lightly. To get the dirt out of the seams, gently clean the area with the scrub brush. Rinse with a towel doused with water. Dry with a microfiber towel.
Put some leather prep on the second double-sided sponge. Use this to gently scrub a small area. Then wipe off with a clean, white, cotton cloth. Work at one section at a time. Don’t be alarmed if you see the leather’s color coming off. This means you’re doing the prepping right.
Car leather reconditioning used to be a job for experts alone, because it involves the use of several products – colorant, filler, binder – and tools – sprayer, sponges – which you had to buy separately. Now, it’s a tad easier, because there are many car leather reconditioning kits in the market today, all containing everything you need to do a decent job.
Here are the steps of car leather reconditioning assuming you’ve already done the necessary preparation and have your preferred kit at hand.
What you’ll need:
- Leather reconditioning kit
- Leather binder
- 1200 grit sandpaper
- Pallet knife
1. Binding the Leather
A leather binder’s function is to strengthen the leather’s fibers and improve its elasticity. This increases its pliability, minimizing the chances of tearing or breaking.
- Put some leather binder on a clean sponge.
- Apply evenly on the leather you are working on. Make sure there is no buildup of product in crevices.
- Let dry.
- Repeat the entire process until you achieve the result you want.
NOTE: If your leather has minor scratches or marks only, go to step #3 below. If it has cracks, cigarette burns, scratches, small tears, proceed to the next step.
2. Filling the Cracks
Filling the cracks is the second step in car leather reconditioning. The goal here is to repair the cracks so they will level with the leather’s surface.
- From your kit, get the filler.
- Put a small amount of filler on a pallet knife.
- Apply thinly and evenly on the cracks.
- Let dry for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Smoothen the surface with a 1200 grit sandpaper.
- Repeat until you get the desired results.
After prepping, binding, and filling the cracks of the leather, you’ll notice that its color is almost completely gone. Now it’s time to bring it back to life.
- Get the leather colorant from your kit. Shake it well.
- Put some colorant on a sponge.
- Apply to the leather evenly.
- Let dry.
- Get an airbrush. Fill it with sufficient amount of colorant.
- Spray the leather to give it a more finished appearance.
3. Sealing and Finishing
Sealing is very important to ensure your car’s leather stays beautiful longer. To make the surface stronger and more durable, spray it with the sealant. Make sure all areas are covered evenly. Let dry, then spray again. You might need to do a second coating.
Once the second coating of sealant has dried, spray the surface with finishing twice, making sure to dry the surface in between each coating.
Car leather reconditioning may be a tough job, but if you do it right, you’ll have a more beautiful, more durable vehicle interior for years to come. And of course, you’ll be saving a lot of money from replacement of your vehicle’s leather surfaces.
Now, if you think DIY car leather reconditioning will not fit into your schedule, or you believe you do not have the necessary skills to do the job well, schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts to have your car interior professionally detailed.
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