Can You Dye Leather Car Seats

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By Luciana Oliveira

Leather furniture lasts really well, and so it is often used for car seats and car interior parts in order to make the car feel and look expensive.

However, sometimes the leather car seats lose their colour, and sometimes the colour just doesn’t match the type of atmosphere you want to create in your vehicle.

Luckily, you can dye leather car seats (and rice haha) by using leather dye or leather colourant.

In fact, you can even use leather paint to give your car a new lease of life and a splash of colour.

Doing so may make your car feel more like yours, and it may also even increase the value of your vehicle.

If you use paint to craft the perfect red leather car seat, for example, you might find that people are suddenly more interested than when your seats were a darker colour.

How to colour leather car seats and leather cloth car interiors

Changing the colour of your leather seats and leather car interior can be a long process, but luckily there are plenty of leather car seats tutorials out there for you to follow to help you to improve the state of your leather upholstery.

Generally speaking, the process of dyeing your leather car seats is as follows.

Leather seating was one of the trends mentioned in “interior design trends not to miss”. This same method would work for any type of leather.

1. Remove the car seats from the vehicle

Removing the car seats from your vehicle helps to protect the car interior (the door panels, the floor, the dashboard etc) from any splashes of dye.

Take your car seats to your garage or yard, and place them on a large piece of tarp.

2. Prepare the leather seats

Most leather seats will have a transparent manufactured finish applied to protect them from stains, scratches and general wear and tear.

It is important that prior to dyeing or painting your seats, you remove this coating.

Removing the transparent manufactured finish will allow your colourant to adhere properly to the leather, and will provide a smoother surface for you to paint onto.

To remove the coating, use an abrasive pad and gentle pressure to rub at the finish. You should notice debris forming where you’re scratching away the coating.

3. Wipe

Wipe away the debris created and any other dust or debris with a soft cloth. Microfiber cloths work especially well for this.

4. Clean

It is crucial that you clean your leather car seat before painting or dyeing it in order to ensure you get the smooth finish that you are after.

You can clean the leather with an alcohol cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

5. Fill cracks

Leather, especially old leather seats, can often crack. Cracked leather is harder to maintain, and it can ruin the appearance of dyes and colourants.

Luckily, cracks are easy to fill and handle. Purchase a product like Flexifil and use a palette knife to smooth it into the cracked leather interiors. This will help to ensure that you achieve a very smooth finish.

If your leather has more than a few small cracks, you might need to use several layers of your filling agent in order to cover all the cracks. Use thin layers and let the filler dry between each.

6. Sand the leather

Once the cracks are all filled, it is time to break out the sandpaper. This will help to improve the leather finish once dyed or painted.

Use your sandpaper to gently smooth out the material, focussing on the areas you have filled.

Once sanded smooth, your leather car seat is ready to be coloured. You can choose to dye or paint/colour your leather. To dye it, you should:

7. Prepare dye

Typically, bottles of leather dye (and most dye, for that matter) require you to shake them to ensure that the ingredients are fully combined before use.

Give the bottle of dye a good shake, and then pour it into a wide-rimmed bowl or container (a Tupperware pot would work well).

8. Base coat or primer

If you are using a car leather dye without a priming quality, you should use a primer or base coat to help your dye to properly adhere.

9. Coat sponge and apply first coat

Using a sponge, not a brush, apply the first coat of dye to your leather.

Many dyes include a primer and sealer within them, if yours does not, this first layer should be your primer.

With your sponge, completely coat the area you’re dyeing. That might be one panel or the whole chair. Leave this to dry for a while.

10. Continue to dye

Once the first coat is dry, you can go in and begin on your second coat and so on.

You should be sure to use long strokes of the sponge and dab occasionally to prevent any sponge marks from staying on the leather once done.

Paint thin coats of the dye onto the leather, and let each layer dry completely before continuing on to the next.

11. Apply a sealant

Once you are satisfied with the paint job, and you think that your leather seat is now the colour that you want it, leave the dye to dry for a few hours.

When you return, apply a sealant across the entire seat. This will help to keep the colour in, will protect the seat a little bit, and depending on the sealant, can create a satin finish.

12. Leather conditioner

The best way to care for your old seats is to ensure that once your leather car interior is painted, you use a wax-based leather conditioner.

This will help to care for the leather after you have scrubbed, cleaned and dyed the fabric.

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Luciana joined our team as a mum blogger in 2020. A dedicated mum to a lively daughter and a dog, Luna, Luciana brings authenticity and passion to every post. Her expertise in parenting and lifestyle topics offers practical, relatable advice for real-life situations.

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