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Home > Furniture Clinic E-Learning Center > How To Restore Leather

How To Restore Leather

Leather can be restored in two ways.

1. Using the Leather Recolouring Balm. This is a simple wipe on and buff off application, however it requires the leathers surface to be absorbant in order for the balm to properly penetrate. It also works if the surface coating has split/cracked exposing a lighter colour beneath.

The advantages of using the balm are that it is cheap and easy to use, and the results are very pleasing. However, it only restores the colour, if the leather is cracked, it will not actually fix the cracks - just hide them with colour. For a more complete restoration, see number two.

2. If you want to restore the leather to pristine condition, fixing all scuffs and cracks, then follow the instructions provided below.

Restoring Leather Guide  


Worn Blue Leather Sofa

In this guide we will restore the two seater sofa shown in the photo on the left.

The leather is heavily cracked and so we will be using Leather BinderFlexifil and the Large Leather Colourant Kit to carry out the restoration (Choose 'severe cracking' option from bundle selection menu above).

If the Leather had little or no cracking, you would not require Flexifil, in this case choose the 'light cracking' option from the menu provided and skip the section of the guide on filling cracks.

All of the products mentioned in this guide can be purchased at the bottom of this page.


Preparing The Leather As Instructed Can Reduce Crease & Cracks

The first step is preparing the leather ready for applications of colour. We do this to remove any waxes, oils or silicones that may be present on the leather, not removing these could cause adhesion problems. Prepping the leather also removes the manufactured finish. If the leather is very dirty, clean it first with the leather ultra clean or warm soapy water.

Different prepping techniques can be employed with similar results but we will show you the most thorough way in this guide and explain the reasons for doing so along the way

1. Do the back & sides first. A lot of furniture these days have finished splits on the back & sides and using a strong cleaner like the leather prep would strip the colour off so we won't be using it on the sides. For the sides all you need to do is wipe them down with some alcohol cleaner on a cloth. Not prepping the back and sides as thoroughly as the rest of the leather won't affect the end results, this is because the back and sides aren't really used and so come under no, or very little stress.

Step 1: Prepping the leather 2. Because the seating cushions and other areas come under more stress (wear & tear) it is more important to prepare them. To do this it is best to rub them with the Leather Prep and an Abrasive Pad, this application removes the leather finish. However, because this leather is very badly worn, it is best to just wipe the leather down with the Leather Prep and a cloth. The Abrasive Pad would make the cracking even worse in this case.

The leather is correctly prepped when you start to see colour transfer from the leather onto the Abrasive Pad or cloth. This indicates that the finish has been removed exposing the colour beneath.

3. The above process will have removed the manufacturers finish and any silicones that are soluble in solvents. There are however some silicones like spray on polish and waxes that aren't soluble in solvents, and so to remove these we need to use the Alcohol Cleaner. After using the Leather Prep wipe the leather down with a cloth dampened in the Alcohol Cleaner and for ease of use you could also spray the Alcohol Cleaner directly onto the leather. Now wait 30 minutes for the prep to evaporate.

Repairing the cracks & worn areas

Cracked Leather Cushion Cracked Leather Close Up

The above two photos show the seating cushion in very bad condition. The photo to the right is an up-close photo of a section of the cushion. The cracks have occurred over 20 years of wear and tear on the leathers surface causing the pigment to 'crack' as the leather flexes. Regular applications of protection cream could have prevented this!!

The process will be to fill the cracks and then colour the leather.

Applying the light filler

Strengthening the leather with Leather Binder

The first process is to strengthen the leather to prevent future cracking. The Leather Binder is applied with a sponge and is absorbed by the leather holding all the worn leather fibres together. Apply approximately 3-5 coats to the entire surface, leaving time for each coat to dry before applying the next.

Note that it is important that excess binder that may build up around areas of stitching should be wiped away before it dries.

Leather with lighter filler on

Note that the binder will change the look of the leather slightly at this stage, in this example It may appear as though it has coloured the cracks. All it has done is darken them as they absorbed it. Do not think this has sorted the problem!

Leather Filled

Applying the Flexifil (Heavily Cracked Leather Only)

After the Leather Binder has strengthened the leather to prevent future cracking; Flexifil is used to repair existing cracking.

Note: It is not suitable for repairing damage such as holes, cat scratches, tears, cuts or burns, for areas that have suffered this kind of damage you require the Leather Repair Kit.

To apply the Flexifil, simply take a pallet knife or spatula and apply a small amount to any areas of cracking on the leather. Then, carefully run the edge of the pallete knife over the filled area to smooth it out and remove any excess. Once all of the cracking has been filled, leave this to dry for 30 minutes and then take some fine sandpaper (1200) and smooth the area down.

Repair Compound in leather To the left is a photo showing a close up as before. This time you will notice where the Leather Binder has filled in some areas and the Flexifil others.

NOTE: It is fine to apply another coat of Binder on top of the Flexifil if necessary. Even if you apply colour and think it could be re-filled, it is ok to apply Flexifil on top of the colour. This helps to achieve a smooth finish.

Sponging on colour

Applying the Colourant

Shake the bottle of Leather Colourant for about 3 minutes to make sure it is well mixed. Pour a small amount onto a sponge and rub into the leather. The idea is to sponge on a thin coat of colour working it into any gaps, creases and hard to reach areas. Apply light pressure here to work the colourant into the grain. If you apply too much pressure you may get a foam of colour on the surface, this is not a problem, just wipe it away with the sponge (gently).

1 base coat of colour The image to the left is the before close up with a coat of colour sponged on. After applying one base coat of colour a thin spray coat can then be applied to further enhance the finish on the leather.

The Leather Colourant dries naturally or you can speed it up with a hair drier.

Spraying the colour

Wait 30 minutes for the colourant to thoroughly dry and then proceed to spray the leather. Set up your spray gun or airbrush and then spray the leather at a comfortable distance, not to over apply the colour. It is best to practice a bit on a piece of paper to get the hang of spraying first. Spray the colourant on in thin layers. This avoids runs and so makes for a nicer finish.

Because the colourant we're using is water based it takes a few minutes to dry. We therefore advise you to spray one area and then dry it using a hair drier. Doing it this way reduces the chance of runs. If you do see a run, just wipe it off with a cloth or sponge and then re-spray the area.

There is no right number of coats that should be applied to the leather. Spray on one coat and dry it off, then just keep spraying on a coat at a time until all the base colour is hidden.

Spraying the Finish

The Leather Finish is then applied in the exact same way as the colourant. Thin layers are the key! We recommend spraying on 2 layers of sealant (glossy), and then 2 layers of Leather Finish as this gives a very strong coating guaranteeing a very long life span of your job! The Leather Finish further enhances the feel and texture of the leather, it gives you a lovely soft and delicate touch, even if the leather was rough beforehand!

Finished Work 
Finish Sofa Finish Sofa Close Up

The above two images are of the seat thoroughly coloured. As standard the leather has a slight shine to it. This can be either increased using a gloss finish, matted down using a matt finish or kept the same using a satin finish. In this case we used a satin finish to match the original sheen.


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Karol Harper     (4 days ago)
I have 2 problems. One is cat scratches on the side of my deep holes, just scratched. the other is some very dark hair/body oli stains on the part of the sofa my husband laid his head on. I tried scrubbing it. and it came out very ugly. This is a heavy good quality leather. I will probably wear out before the couch does.
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (3 days ago)

The right way to restore the scratches will depend on the type of leather the furniture is made of. To check this, put a drop of water onto a good area and wait five seconds to see whether it soaks in or sits on the surface.

If it soaks in, you can restore the leather with a Leather Recolouring Balm.

If it sits on the surface then the Leather Colourant Kit would be needed.

The oil stains are more straight forward. The Leather Degreaser will extract this from any leather (except bicast).
Colin     (5 days ago)
Our cream leather settee surface has been damaged (10 cm by 5 cm) by scrubbing a pen mark with a baby wipe. This has abraded the surface. What is the best method/product to repair this?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (5 days ago)

This depends on the type of leather you have. Try putting a drop of water onto a good section of leather and check whether it soaks in within five seconds.

If the water soaks in then you can use a Leather Recolouring Balm.

If the water does not soak in then you can use a Leather Touch Up Kit.
Beverley     (6 days ago)
We have a leather sofa and the top colour has worn off on the arms, how do I know if the leather is absorbent or not to choose the right colour stain?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (6 days ago)
You simply put a bit of water onto the leather and see whether or not it soaks in. It should take a few seconds for the water to soak into an absorbent leather.
mr Jones ?     (17 days ago)
Hello, we have an analine ? wax pull up leather suite, the seats and arm ends are cracked and peeling. i'm thinking of sending for your cleaning kit,a colouring balm and then rewax the suite. will this action be adequate to bring life back into this top hide leather ? Thank you
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (16 days ago)

The Leather Care Kit will be ideal for cleaning general dirt & grime from the leather as well as protecting it afterwards. If it is either aniline or a pull up leather then the balm will be suitable for restoring the colour. We have no products to 'rewax' the suite; we find that applying the Protection Cream after the balm does a suitable job.
Siobhan     (24 days ago)
Hi, I have 2 leather sofas which seem to have a coating on them which has now cracked and peeled off in some parts and has left the paler layer below visible. Should I use the flexifil above and what should I do about other peeling parts which are coming away?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (19 days ago)

If the leather is peeling then it would need to be recoloured. You can do this using a Leather Colourant Kit. We're able to match the exact colour if you can send in a sample of the leather. The Flexifil would be need if there are any cracks in the leather.
Julia     (1 month ago)
Hi I have a DFS suite and it is surface dyed only? I think it is semi analine, what can I use to restore the leather as it has quite a few surface discolourations and is looking worn but it is not cracked?

FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (1 month ago)

If the leather is absorbent you can use a Leather Recolouring Balm. If it's non-absorbent, you can use a Leather Colourant Kit.
Emma     (1 month ago)
It appears that my dog's flea treatment (dot on the back of neck stuff) has left, what looks like a bleached area on my dark brown leather sofa :(
Its like a flick of bleach going from the seat to the back of the chair. Could you recommend something to bring back the colour to this?? Thank you in advance
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (1 month ago)

This is quite a common problem with flee treatment. It removes the colour from the leather. It sounds like a small areas so you can restore the colour using a Leather Touch Up Kit.
Kathryn     (2 months ago)
Hi there
Is there a leather cleaning system to get rid of smoke smells, along with parts of the sofa have gone very mat looking and lost its shine.
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (2 months ago)

We are currently working on a product to remove smoke odour. This will be announced in our newsletter once it is available.

To restore the shine you can use a Leather Finish Kit.
John G     (2 months ago)
I hope to repair a 100 yr old built in leather sofa. The leather was tan and is now very dry. Should I use neatsfoot oil on this?
One area has a patch where the surface has lifted away from the fibres beneath it. How do I repair this?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (2 months ago)
Hi John

If the leather is dry I would recommend using the Leather Revive to restore the natural oils into the leather.

To restore the worn area you can use Leather Binder to strengthen bind the fibers together and restore the integrity of the leather. A Leather Colourant Kit to restore the colour.
rosi lewis     (2 months ago)
Hi there, would I be able to send you photos of an armchair which I am about to buy in the hope that I can restore it, to get your advice?
Thanks. Rosi Lewis
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (2 months ago)
Hi Rosi

Of course; please send them to
dot porter     (2 months ago)
hi i tried to get pen marks out of my sofa with hair spry but it took out some of the couler out what can i do? to get it back regards dot.
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (2 months ago)
Hi Dot

This is quite a common issue when using hair spray on leather. We always recommend using a leather cleaner to avoid problems like this.

Fortunately, you can restore the colour using a Leather Touch Up Kit (for areas 10cm x 10cm) or a Leather Colourant Kit (for larger areas). The Touch Up Kit comes with tints which allow you to match the colour yourself but for the Colourant Kit we would need a small sample of the leather (usually taken from underneath the furniture or inside of a zip) so that we can match the colour for you.
Heidi McNatt     (2 months ago)
Where can I purchase these products to repair a leather sofa?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (2 months ago)

All of our products can be bought on our website or over the phone.
marco     (3 months ago)
what colour Blue is the two seater in the picture as my sofa is identical
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (3 months ago)
Gary Hardcastle     (3 months ago)
Hello,we have a leather settee,which when purchased was treated with some sort of spray. The settee has been located in a conservatory for some time & the treated surface has become sticky/tacky. I'd like to remove this treatment if possible & try restore the leather.
Any help,advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards
Gary Hardcastle.
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (3 months ago)
Hi Gary

With most leather, once the colour is applied, a clear finish is applied on top to seal the colour in and give the leather the right level of shine (matt, satin, gloss etc). Over time this finish can wear away and expose the coloured layer, which is tacky. It sounds as though this is the problem that you have rather than it being the spray treatment.

If the colour of the leather is still OK then all you need to use is a Leather Finish Kit to restore the worn finish.

If the colour has also started to wear away then you can use a Leather Colourant Kit to restore both the colour and the finish. It's best to send us a sample of your leather with this option so that we can match the exact colour.
Michae Lovett     (4 months ago)
Hope you can advise me,
I have a leather sofa, it is a bit cracked on the arms so I sprayed on some furniture polish and suddenly there has appeared a very dark tary stain.
I cannot seem to get it to come off.
I am scared to try anything to strong because of it being leather.
Any ideas please
Michael Lovett

FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (4 months ago)
Furniture polish can act similar to grease and oil on leather and results in dark, often tacky, marks being left behind. to correct this I'd recommend the Leather Degreaser, which will extract the oil. You may find that a light mark is left behind, but the leather can be recoloured if this is the case.

The Leather Degreaser could be found here:

The Touch Up Kit (to recolour the leather) can be found here:
Kristine      (4 months ago)
I have two 3 cushion sofas, would one offer of these products be enough for both sofas?
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (4 months ago)
Hello Kristin
If you're looking to restore both sofas, you would need an Extra Large Colourant Kit, otherwise it will depend on how much of each cushion you will be working on.
Kingsley     (5 months ago)
Does the colour of the sofa matter in all these.
FC Comment
Furniture Clinic     (5 months ago)
Hello Kingsley, no the colour of the sofa doesn't matter. If you are using the Leather Colourant Kit, you can find our standard colour chart here.
Alternatively you can send a sample in for a colour match. If you are restoring your sofa with the Leather Re-Colouring Balm you can choose from a range of colours.
Thank you.
Tutorial Shopping List
items used in this tutorial
Leather Colourant KitLeather Colourant Kit
From £40.00

or Sending sample for colour match.

Leather BinderLeather Binder
From £10.95

From £19.95

Order selected products
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How To Restore A Leather Car InteriorHow To Restore A Leather Car Interior
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