One Way to Dye Leather Seat (grey to black)

Old 03-09-2012, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: inverness
Posts: 38
Year: 1998
Model: Cherokee
Engine: 4.0
Default One Way to Dye Leather Seat (grey to black)

I did a lot of wandering around forums and various websites before getting into dying my seats to black. There's a lot of fear and mixed responses out there with what might happen when you try to dye a seat and generally I think a lot of it stems from missing out the preparation stages, using the wrong dye or just trying to be a bit too adventurous with color changing.

This is a short tutorial with a good few images on how I dyed my seats from Grey to Black, which isn't too much of a step but this should make it turn out pretty good.

Things needed.
  • I used Angelus dye (3oz or 1 Pint, I used both but had some left), it's strong and highly effective.
  • Angelus finishing in matt or gloss (3oz will do)
  • You'll need a few kitchen sponges or any sponge type device.
  • A container for the dye, a margarine tub is perfect.
  • Grade 300-400 glass paper and a lighter scouring pad.
  • One bottle of mentholated spirits.

Step One

First is going to be a few hours (...approx) of preparation work, you can make that shorter or longer but if shorter remember that the better the surface is prepared then the better the dye will soak into the leather and stay there, if longer, remember that you don't want to sand right through the leather or make it too smooth. The aim is a matt finish and smooth, no gloss or shine.

Click Here to view all of the steps in an external gallery as a reference through the different points.

  • Begin sanding the seats carefully with the fine grade 300-400 paper.

  • Everything is smooth and dull looking... Now it all needs to be cleaned with a cloth and some mentholated spirits, don't go crazy with it and try not to breath too much in. Aim to just clean away any marks, dirt or dust left by the sanding.

  • Now the seats should be pretty clean looking, you can move them into an area suitable to applying the dye.

  • I used an air compressed paint gun at first with a thinned mixture of dye which will work but in the end I opted for a sponge as it used far less dye and with black you can only really end up with a really black black.

  • Put a thin covering of dye on the sponge and view the seat as separate parts. This is so that you don't end up with all the dye on the left from adding a fresh lot to the sponge, it soaks in really quick.

  • The trick here is to keep working with one section, the seat section will now start to absorb the dye to keep brushing it in with sweeping light strokes. Near the point of it becoming dry you'll notice streaks appearing, at this point I altered the direction and went across the streak lightly. If you keep doing this so that the area is constantly been worked right up past it being dry then I find you get a good covering and relatively streak free.

  • Move onto a different panel, try the seat back using the same technique, focus on one panel at a time within the back panel and try to work right into the stitching so that you can't see the old color on the thread. Again these little fine details will the ironed out at the end, we're looking for even coverage just now.
  • Pay attention the the area under the pole fittings for the headrest, you may need to push down on the seat as shown. You don't want to see old colors if the seat is stressed or moved, get into every corner.

  • Once you've repeated this for all of the seats, leave it an hour to dry.
  • For the second coat repeat the same process this time with a little more dye, I found that on the second time around it was more willing to take it in without leaving streaks.
  • By this point you should be seeing some nice looking seats, streak free and very dark. If you wish you can add a third coat, I found it didn't do any harm.

  • Lastly, go around the dried seats and with your hands stress the leather like you would if you were to have sat on it. Open up the joins and stitching areas, parts hidden, under the seat and back joint, and basically look for any traces of old color. You will probably find that there are parts where you can still see old color stitching so just keep a sponge in one hand and press it into all the lines, it'll soak it in.
  • Now just add a coating of your finisher matt or gloss to keep it protected for years to come.

So to refresh...

  1. Prepare with glass paper to remove gloss and allow the leather to breathe.
  2. Clean with mentholated spirits to remove dust and any dirt.
  3. Apply first coat evenly panel by panel, brushing out streaks.
  4. Allow to dry.
  5. Apply second coat and really darken it.
  6. Allow to dry.
  7. Apply third to finalize the depth of black your happy with.
  8. Allow to dry.
  9. Go over it to find any old color spots within the stitching.
  10. Allow to dry.
  11. Apply your gloss or matt finisher to protect the leather.
Feel free to PM me if you want to ask anything at all.

Last edited by iamajeep; 03-11-2012 at 10:58 AM. Reason: Usual poor use of language
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