Sunday, June 18, 2017

Advanced Leather Solutions San Francisco area service business is for sale

After almost 30 years of servicing our client's leather repair, restoration and normal maintenance needs from our facility in Hayward, CA, we have made a decision to rediret our energies exclusively toward the development and manufacturing of leather care and repair product under a new name - ADV Leather.

This means we are looking to divest the services portion of our business, Advanced Leather Solutions, Inc., to a qualified buyer who wants to take advantage of the hard earned reputation for quality workmanship we've established in the San Francisco bay area over the last 3 decades.

Advanced Leather Solutions is the leading "go-to" company in northern California for repair and restoration of leather.

The facility is centrally located to the bay area with a service demorgaphic of more than 8 million people in a wealthy, high-end market.  Advanced Leather Solutions has an existing cash flow from a loyal and varied client base.

The markets serivced are Corporate or other large entitries, Furniture Retailers and Manufacturers, Moving companies, Interior Designers,  Insurance firms, and the General public.

A qualified buyer will be inheriting fully trained staff and have on going technical support from the seller.  The company, Advanced Leather Solutions, Inc. name will stay with the buyer.

To accomplish the repair and restoration needs of the market, the buyer will have access to all of the products manufactured by ADV Leather at very favorable pricing for a term to be negotiated.

Qualified and serious buyers only please.   Send all inquires to  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yelp 2017 AWARD recipient

Advanced Leahter Solutions, Inc has just been awarded....

It represents our continued commitment to excellence in customer service since 1988.

In all humility, we're not perfect, though we strive for perfection with every client.  We are grateful that our clients have such high a regard for what we do.  Thank you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

YouTube video list from

I've been away from blogging for a while and intend to get back into it.

This is my first posts in a long time.  Let me know if you have specific areas of interest which you would like to see me comment on via this blog.

I've been active posting YouTube videos and this post describes each of those videos and has a link to them.  Let me know what you think.  If there is a specific topic for a YouTube video you'd like to see me produce, let me know.

Advanced Leather Solutions YouTube Video Library

This is the current list of videos available produced by Advanced Leather Solutions on YouTube.  Our YouTube video production is an ongoing effort.  They are either task specific (i.e. how to accomplish a specific leather repair task) or are informative about leather.  We have grouped them into categories to make it a bit easier for you to find a video you’d like to view.  If you want us to produce a specific video regarding leather care and maintenance, let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

About Leather
Title: Leather Types Explained
Content Description: Different types of upholstery leather found on furniture and automotive are explained between unfinished, aniline dyed leather and finished, protected or pigmented leather.  Also explains the purpose of base and print coloring technique and protective clear coat.

Title: Material that is NOT a candidate for Leather Restoration
Content Description:  Kevin Gillan shows two examples of material that he recommends not to proceed with a restoration project as in both cases the new color coating will fail.  Kevin shows why.

Title:  New Leather Furniture Care Tips
Content Description:   Offers advice for the care and maintenance of new leather furniture.  Also discusses a strategy for keeping cats off leather furniture.

Title:  Do You Have Finished or Unfinished Leather Furniture
Content Description:   Helps determine the type of leather you have --- finished or unfinished.
Title:  San Francisco Cable Car Straps Production
Content Description:   Shows how Advanced Leather Solutions manufactures the leather hanging straps used on the San Francisco Cable Cars for the standing passengers.

Title:  Effect of body oils on fine leather
Content Description:   This brief video shows the eventual effect of body oils on a leather headrest.  This leather is only 5 years old.  The leather on the headrest had to be replaced.

Leather Restoration

Title: Anatomy of Leather Furniture Restoration from Aniline to Protected
Content Description:  Documents the restoration of leather furniture from faded, and stained aniline or unfinished to a fully finished state, explaining the step-by-step process.  The result retains the feel and look of the original unfinished leather yet now has a protective coating that is fade and stain resistant.

Title:  DIY Leather Solutions Kit Contents
Content Description:  Produced by Advanced Leather Solutions of Hayward, CA, here you will see the contents of a typical, fully consumer based Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kit for restoring worn, faded and stained leather furniture.  Thousands of kits have been sold to date.  You too can be successful at restoring your own leather with this system.

Title: Leather Jacket Restoration
Content Description:  Leather jacket, originally black faded over time.  This jacket  is restored to original condition with the products and processes of Advanced Leather Solutions.  You'll see the procedure of priming the leather, coloring the leather and then top coating where we retained the soft feel of the fine leather.

Title:  Creating a European Wipe on Mottled Color Affect on Leather
Content Description:   his Advanced Leather Solution video shows the procedure for creating a hand wipe European style affect on leather.  It shows how to re-create that affect that was worn away on leather furniture.    This is a system that Do It Yourself clients can use on their old, worn and stained leather furniture to bring it back to like-new condition.

Title:  Abby's Leather Lesson - 2011
Content Description:   9 year old Abby demonstrates how to create a mottling color affect on leather using Advanced Leather Solutions Do It Yourself (DIY) leather color restoration process.  This mottling effect creates a more organic or natural look to upholstery leather.  

Title:  Before and After Slide Presentation of DIY Leather Solutions
Content Description:   This slide presentation was produced by a client of Advanced Leather Solutions using the DIY Leather Solutions Coffee Bean base coloring system.  It includes body oil extraction, priming and three coats of Coffee Bean base.

Title: How to Remove Color from Tacks, After Leather Color Project
Content Description:  When re-coloring some leather furniture, the decorative tacks can be a problem.  The best technique is to ignore them (color over them) and then subsequently remove the color from the tacks.  This video shows you how.

Title:  Back in Black Leather Coloring System
Content Description:   Demonstrates how to use Advanced Leather Solution's Back in Black color system to restore color to leather.

Title:  Mottling affect with a screen
Content Description:   How to create a mottling affect with a screen to shoot print color through on to the target leather.

Title:  Body Oil Extraction from Leather Procedure
Content Description:   Shows the technique of oil extraction from an unfinished leather as the initial step to full color restoration of a recliner.

Title:  Porsche - 1962 Leather Interior Restoration
Content Description:   Demonstrates Advanced Leather Solutions techniques for restoring the leather interior of a classic car.

Title:  Coffee Bean Color System
Content Description:  Demonstrates the Advanced Leather Solutions Coffee Bean generic color system showing the ability to create a mottled color affect while changing the color of leather.

Title:  Professional Leather Color Change Procedure
Content Description:   Demonstrates the process of a full color change, converting an orange leather club chair to a version of brown as selected by the client.

Title:  Body Oil Extraction Procedure for Leather Furniture
Content Description:   Demonstrates the procedure for body oil extraction from a leather backrest as one of the steps in the DIY Leather Restoration system offered by Advanced Leather Solutions.  To see a slide presentation by a client that shows the entire process including priming and coloring after the oil extractor step, go to this link:

Title:  Cassina Soriana Seating Upholstery Project
Content Description:   This video shows the upholstery of a Cassina Soriana chair.

Title:  Advanced Leather Solution's Generic Colors
Content Description:   Shows a color change demonstration on leather from grey to either Coffee Bean or Mahogany color systems provided by DIY Leather Solutions.

Title:  Is Your Leather a Candidate for Restoration - A Test
Content Description:   How do you know if your leather is healthy enough to be restored?  Any leather restoration process will only be successful if the integrity of the leather is still good.  This video shows how to test your leather's integrity.

Title:  Jaguar XK-120, 1953 Leather Restoration
Content Description:   This is a brief edited version of a video showing the before during and after of the conservation and preservation of this badly worn out leather seating completed by Advanced Leather Solutions.  The full 25 minute video is available via download from on the automobile page.

Title:  Wiped Color Affect for Leather Restoration
Content Description:   Shows how to recreate a subtle mottling wiped color affect on leather as a color restoration technique.

Title:  Omersa Leather Rhino Restoration Project
Content Description:   This project demonstrates the leather restoration work that is done at Advanced Leather Solutions, Inc. studio in Hayward, CA.  It shows the level of craftsmanship you can expect from Advanced Leather.

Repair Techniques

Title: How to Remove Scratches from Pull-up Leather
Content Description:  Demonstrates how to resolve scratches and packing tape damage marks from a pull up leather using Scratch Remover.

Title: Leather Color - Print Coat Failure
Content Description:  Shows a weakness in the coloring system used to color this leather.  The original protective coating has very little wear or chemical resistance, including against water. This piece is manufactured by Ashley Furniture.

Title: Resolving Mold in Leather
Content Description:  Mold?  Video demonstrates how to resolve mold in or on leather.

Title: Leather Color Failure - Print Coat
Content Description:  Why does the color of leather come off or fade?  It's called Leather Print Coat Failure

Title:  Resolving a Dent in Leather Furniture
Content Description:   Have a dent in your leather furniture?  This video demonstrates how to resolve it.

Title:  Leather Lacing on a Cushion
Content Description:   Leather furniture restoration often requires some level of uniqueness.  In this case, we are re-lacing leather as part of our restoration process.   We had to remove the original lacing as we replaced the seat cushion with new leather and to restore the color, we had to remove the original lacing else the lacing would have been colored as well.

Title:  Sticky Name Tag Problem on Leather Jacket
Content Description:   Have you been to a function wearing a beautiful leather jacket and someone hands you a name tag to stick on the leather?   Oppps...  When you pull the name tag off, the leather color comes with it along with some of the epidermis as a sticky Band-aid would pull some of your skin when removing.  This video shows how to solve that problem and save the expensive leather jacket.

Title:  How to Insert Foam into a New Cushion Casing
Content Description:   Show a simple technique to ease the effort of inserting foam into a leather cushion.  This little trick saves a lot of time and energy in getting the foam neatly and quickly inside the leather cushion casing.

Title: Natuzzi Internals
Content Description:  Shows how a Natuzzi sofa is constructed internally and after years of use, how the internal support systems failed causing a sinking seat deck.

Title:  Repairing Bicast Leather Cushion Casing  - Part 2
Content Description:  This is the second of two videos that shows the process of repairing via sub-patch under the entire seat top of a bicast cushion.

Title: Repairing Bicast Leather Cushion casing - Part 1
Content Description:   Describes how to repair bicast cushion casing using a sub-patch method to bring strength through sub-patch to the underside of the leather

Title:  Vinyl Repair Technique
Content Description:  Shows how to repair a hole in vinyl.

Title:  Print Color technique with a badger 250
Content Description:   Shows how to apply missing print coat to a leather cushion.

Title:  How to Use a Badger 250 Air Brush
Content Description:   A demonstration by Advanced Leather Solutions of how to control the air pressure and spray pattern for a Badger 250 air brush.

Leather Care

Title: Advanced Leather Solutions Leather Protector
Content Description:  Demonstration of leather protector against oil on aniline (unprotected) leather.  Shows how a simple wipe-on application of the protector prevents absorption of oil.  The protector does not distort the color or the feel of the leather.  Check it out.

Title:  Leather Cleaner from Advanced Leather Solutions - SG - 5
Content Description:   Leather cleaner from Advanced Leather Solutions is demonstrated on a heavily soiled leather car seat.  Video was taken in Our Hayward, CA leather restoration studio.  The demonstrated product is SG - 5 leather cleaner.

Title:  Cleaning and Conditioning Leather in an Automobile
Content Description:   SG - 5 and SG - 25 leather cleaner and leather conditioner are demonstrated in an automobile application with light colored leather that has had dye transfer and soiling discoloring the leather.

Title:  Household Cleaners and Leather
Content Description:   Shows the effect of household cleaners on various types of leather.  Discusses the importance of understanding the pH of leather. 

Title:  The Power of SG - 5 Leather Cleaner Demonstrated
Content Description:   Here is an excellent example of the cleaning power of Advanced Leather Solutions SG - 5 Leather Cleaner.  It is one of several leather care products in the SG series, all intended to prolong the life and beauty of your leather.

Title: How to Clean Nubuck or Suede Leather Furniture
Content Description:  This video show the process for cleaning nubuck or suede that does NOT involve a liquid of foam cleaner.  It's based on an abrasion principle that we've been using successfully for years.

Cat Scratches

Title:  Severe Cat Claw Damage Repair
Content Description:   Shows repair technique for severely damaged leather from a cat.

Title:  Green Leather Sofa with Cat Scratches
Content Description:   This is a simple but effect method for resolving cat scratches on leather furniture with products from Advanced Leather Solutions, Inc.

Wassily and Barcelona

Title: Wassily Backrest Installation
Content Description:  Shows how to install replacement backrest leather for a Wassily chair.

Title:  How to Identify Barcelona and Wassily Chairs Authenticity
Content Description:   How can you tell a real Wassily chair or Barcelona chair?  Learn the clues to look for to determine if the piece is the real deal or a knock-off.  The video also shows the quality of materials Advanced Leather Solutions uses to construct replacement components for these chairs.

Title:  How to tell if you have a real Barcelona or Wassily chair
Content Description:  This video from Advanced Leather Solutions shows you how to tell if you have an original Barcelona or Wassily chair.  It also shows the quality of workmanship in our replacement parts for Wassily and Barcelona chairs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DIY Leather Restoration Kits - Passes the Test of Time

Here is an e-mail from a DIYer who did her leather restoration project 5 years ago with our DIY Leather Solutions Kit system.

Hi Kevin,
I contacted you five years ago when I started the big project of saving my fairly new, but extremely faded leather furniture.  I was skeptical of any on-line do-it-yourself furniture restoration product.  However, I was even more unwilling to throw away expensive furniture!  I bought blinds to shut out the harsh sun and I took the gamble on your product - sending you a scrap of leather to match and receiving in return your bottles of primer, color, print, and finisher along with tools and instructions. 
My husband thought I was a little crazy to tackle something like that on my own, but tackle it I did.  It took me about 3 days to do the chair and ottoman because I wanted to try the smaller pieces first and I went very slowly, stopping to email you with questions or just progress reports every step of the way.  You always got right back to me with words of encouragement - "you're on the right track", or "now you're ready for the next step", or "keep me posted".  I refinished the couch the following week and was able to move a little more quickly.  When the project was done, my family and friends were absolutely amazed!  My husband said I had saved us about $5000 (he was ready to toss and replace); my sister said the furniture looked better than when it was new!  I sent you before and after pictures and was pretty darn proud of my efforts!
Now here it is, five years later.  The furniture still looked pretty good, even thought it was well used.  It had a few scratches acquired from moving it when we installed wood flooring and when we redid our ceilings, plus there were two cushions that looked a little worn.  We were sprucing the place up for a big party and I decided to give the furniture another makeover.  I had saved the leftover bottles and tools - there was enough of your product to entirely refinish the chair, ottoman and couch.  This time it took me only 2 days to complete the whole project and once again my furniture, now 9 years old, looks brand new!
I have to say, your product does exactly what it's advertised to do, your instructions are complete and easy to follow, the results look amazing and it's an incredible value.  Feel free to publish my testimonial on your website if you'd like!
Terry L.

Copyright 2011, Kevin Gillan

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How to Resolve Mold and Mildew on Leather

Source of Mold and Mildew
Spores of fungi and bacteria are present in the air. High humidity, warm temperatures, and poor ventilation provide the ambient conditions that allow mold growth. Generally, stagnant air above 80% relative humidity may support mold. If above 95%, the humidity will certainly encourage fungi and bacteria to grow. Soiling, organic residues and stains will enhance the growth of mildew on leather and fabrics.

Removing Mildew from Leather and Fabric Surfaces

First, remove loose mold from outer coverings of upholstered articles with a soft bristle brush. Do this outdoors, if possible, to prevent scattering mildew spores in the house. Wash brush before re-using.

Run a vacuum cleaner attachment over the surface of the leather and fabric panels to draw out more of the mold. Remember that the mold spores are being drawn into the bag of the vacuum cleaner. If the vacuum has a disposable bag, remove and dispose of it immediately. If not, empty the bag carefully (preferably outdoors) to avoid scattering mold spores in the house.

Do everything conveniently possible to dry the leather - use an electric heater and a fan to carry away moist air. Sun and air the article to help stop mold growth.

If you have finished leather (leather with a topically applied pigment coating), and mildew remains, sponge lightly with thick suds of soap and wipe with a clean damp cloth. In doing this, avoid getting the leather wet with excessive amounts of moisture. DO NOT USE THIS STRATEGY UNLESS YOU ARE SURE THE LEATHER HAS A FINISH ON IT (see our leather care page on our site to help you identify your leather type). In all cases, do a test in a non-obvious area of your leather to ensure that the suds will not darken, stain or discolor the leather. If you have cushions with zipper access, and you suspect the fungi or bacteria have migrated into the internals of the cushion, remove the cushion cores and treat accordingly, or replace with new.

If necessary, a final step to remove mildew on upholstered leather furniture is to gently wipe it with a cloth moistened with diluted alcohol (1 cup denatured or isopropyl alcohol to 4 cup water). Dry the article thoroughly. Once again, apply this strategy only if you are sure it’s finished leather, and only after you have tested in a non-obvious location on your furniture. Be aware that this alcohol solution may adversely effect the top-coat and surface finish of your leather so only do this as a last ditch effort and only after thoroughly testing on a hidden part of your leather.

If mold has grown into the inner part of your furniture frame, open the underside dust cover, then dry and air out the internals as best as possible. You may need to send it to a reliable disinfecting and fumigating service. Such services are often listed under "Exterminating and Fumigating" or "Pest Control" services in the yellow pages of the telephone directory. If they have an “ozone chamber,” have them put your furniture into the chamber for at least 48 hours.

Here are some tips on preventing mildew.
Keep The Leather Clean - Soiling can supply enough food for mildew to start growing when moisture and temperature are right. Greasy films, such as those that form on kitchen walls, also contain many nutrients for mildew-causing molds.

Get Rid of Dampness - Dampness is often caused by condensation of moisture from humid air onto cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture may indicate that repairs or additional insulation are needed. Replace cracked or defective mortar. Some basements are continually wet from water leaking through crevices in the wall. Make sure outside drainage is adequate.

Control Moisture - For waterproofing concrete and other masonry walls above ground, apply two coats of cement paint, tinted with mineral coloring if desired. Waterproofed coatings to seal absorbent brick and other outside surfaces may be needed. Spread a layer of moisture-barrier material over the soil in crawl spaces under houses. You can use heavy roofing paper or polyethylene plastic film. Good ventilation is important. If possible, do not enclose the crawl space. In extreme cases, a fan or blower may be needed to move the humid air from under the building. Cooking, laundering, and bathing may add 2 gallons or more of water a day to the house. If circulation is not adequate use some type of exhaust fan. If your clothes dryer is equipped with a vent, have it exhausted to the outside to remove moist air.

Dry the Air - Cool air holds less moisture than warm air. Properly installed air-conditioning systems remove moisture from the air by taking up warm air, cooling it (which removes the moisture) and circulating the cool dry air back into the room. In rooms that are not air-conditioned-especially the basement--mechanical dehumidifiers are useful. A humidistat can be attached to the unit to control the humidity. Mechanical dehumidifiers, however, can add heat to a room. If you are using air-conditioners or dehumidifiers, keep windows and doors closed.

Heat - Get rid of dampness by heating the house for a short time. Then open doors and windows to let out the moisture-laden air. An exhaust fan may be used to force it out.

Circulate the Air - When the air outside is drier than that inside, ventilation allows the dry air to enter, take up excess moisture, and then be carried outside. When natural breezes are not sufficient, you can use electric fans placed in a window, set in a wall, or ducted to the attic to move air from the house. Poorly ventilated rooms get damp and musty during continued wet weather, and furniture in such a room is prone to mildew. Try to improve the air circulation. If necessary, lay the furniture on its back, cut open, or remove the dust cover under your furniture and run a fan into the open space to help dry the internals of your furniture. It may help to dry the inside by running a de-humidifier, pointing the air-flow into the internals of your furniture.

Get Rid of Musty Odors - Get rid of musty odors as soon as possible to prevent further mold growth. Usually musty odors disappear if the area is well heated and dried. If the odors remain, the following treatment may be necessary. On cement floors and on tiled walls and floors, get rid of mustiness by scrubbing with a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite or other chlorine bleach available in most grocery stores. Use one-half to 1 cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water. Rinse with clear water and wipe as dry as possible. Keep windows open until walls and floors are thoroughly dry. DO NOT APPLY THIS SOLUTION TO THE LEATHER.

Copyright - 2011, Kevin Gillan

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beware of Credit Card Scams

We've had our share of attempted credit card scams over the years.  The most recent hit our shop just yesterday.

A prospect contact us by e-mail wanting to buy Barcelona cushions.  We offered a quote and he accepted.  Now the scam:  

Buy an expensive product that requires overseas shipping. Buyer claims to be located in the USA, while the ship-to address is in Europe. Buyer asks seller (us) to contact his designated shipping company by e-mail to get a quote. The quote comes in ridiculously high.  Buyer requires the seller to use the buyer's designated shipping company because he "trusts them."  The total amount including shipping is almost $7,000 of which more than $2,500 is shipping.   Buyer wants to pay the total amount, including shipping costs, up front with a credit card.  Buyer calls with credit card number.  With buyer on the phone, we run the card and it goes through as authorized. The shipping company then sends an e-mail to me claiming their credit card processing system is down and to send a money gram or bank wire transfer to a bank in Ghana for the shipping fee. Bingo.... Fraud!!!  We void the transaction and call our credit card processing company.  They determine it is a valid card, valid billing address, but the name on the card is not correct.  

Because we voided the transaction before it was "batched" (Meaning the money was actually put into our account.) we weren't charged the processing fee.  Further research determined the shipping company is bogus.  Buyer IS the fraudulent shipping co. 

I just received another e-mail asking why I haven't sent the wire transfer. I am stringing them along at the moment.   

Amazing lengths these knuckleheads will go through.

Copyright  2011, Kevin Gillan

Saturday, April 16, 2011

White Leather Furniture - Yellow Staining

Recently two different clients forwarded pictures of their white leather furniture.  In both cases the symptom was the same.  A yellowing discoloration of the leather.  Here are two pictures.


In both cases the client put a skin cream on their legs and then sat in the leather seating.  The skin cream has coloring agents that will act as synthetic tanning agents.

As the tanning agent is a dye, it transfered from the occupant's skin into the leather, discoloring as shown.  There are no warning labels on the skin cream container.  Yet it will permanently discolor the color coat.  It would not be an issue on a dark leather as you wouldn't see the discoloration.  However on a light colored leather it is clearly a problem. 

It is not a cleaning issue as the leather has literally been recolored, just as was intended for the person's skin by the lotion with this tanning additive.  Trying to clean it is like trying to clean a tattoo from your skin.  

The correct solution is to match the color and color over the offended area.

Copyright 2011, Kevin Gillan 


Friday, April 15, 2011

Linkedin Group for Leather Technicians

At Advanced Leather Solutions our motto is "No Secrets."  As an "Open Source" company we are happy to share our knowledge. To that end, check out the Global Leather Repair Technicians discussion group on Linkedin. It is the brain-child of Lee Bryan, Technical Sales Advisor for Stahl Europe B.V. Lee works out of Barcelona, Spain where he ran his own leather repair and restoration business for years before he joined Stahl.  Here is the link for the group:

Whether deeply experienced or just a rookie, I recommend that you join.  It only takes a minute to sign up, yet it brings truly a world of  knowledge. Read through the discussions and jump in with your own tricks-of-the-trade, know-how and experience. Begin a new discussion with a topic of your own.  Let the entire global leather technician community learn from you, as you learn from them.  If you're new to the business or a seasoned tech, use this forum as a means of asking questions and seeking advice, learning from the invaluable experience of other pros. With broad participation, we can all thrive.     

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leather Conditioning Tips

Upholstery grade leather has about 25% moisture content as it leaves the tannery.  This moisture content is typically natural oils like neetsfoot that is infused into the fiber structure imparting suppleness.  These oils are volatile, meaning they evaporate away overtime at a rate dependent on the humidity.  If you are in a very dry climate and the leather is exposed to direct sun or other heat source then the evaporation rate is considerably accelerated compared to a damp climate or where the leather is not exposed to a direct heat source like the warming sun.

As moisture evaporates from leather two things happen: 1. the leather shrinks due to lose of mass, and 2. the leather looses is internal lubrication.  In either case the affect is stiffening.  At some point, where the moisture content drops below 5% or so, the leather feels and behaves like a piece of cardboard.  This is its demise.

Leather conditioners contain replenishing oils.  The goal of conditioning leather then is instill lost oils to keep the moisture content elevated.  Consequently, this simple maintenance procedure prolongs the leather’s life.  It’s a pretty simple concept.  However, there is more to the story.  Here are some important considerations:

pH Issue.  pH measures acidity or alkalinity.  The range is from 1 to 14 with pure water being neutral at 7.0.  Leather is acidic.  It measures 4.5 to 5.0 on a pH scale.  Furthermore, the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that each whole number is 10 times more or less acidic or alkaline than the next number in the scale.  When you mix two elements that have differing pH, a chemical reaction occurs.  In the case of leather, this chemical reaction accelerates the breakdown of leather fibers.  Therefore, any conditioner applied to leather should be pH balanced to leather so as not to damage the leather.

Coated (Pigmented) Leather.  Most leather has a surface color coating.  This coating is also covered with a clear coat providing protection and wear resistance.  So, if something spills on the leather, it is easily wiped up without penetrating and staining the leather.  These coatings are generally chemical engineered to have a certain degree of porosity, allowing the leather to breath.   However, the ability for a conditioning agent to penetrate through this protective barrier is a challenge.  This is particularly true with automobile grade leather.  For automobile leather, the most effective procedure is to warm the leather up a bit (leave the car in the sun for a few hours) before you apply a conditioner.  Warming the leather reduces viscosity allowing a higher absorption potential. Then, aggressively massaging the conditioner into the leather will help.

Over conditioning.  If a little is good, then a lot must be better, right?  A common mistake is to apply too much conditioner.  Think of a sponge fully laden with water.  Adding more water is not possible.  This is also true with leather.  If the moisture content is at its maximum, then adding more conditioner does nothing except to sit on the leather surface, drying over time and turning sticky and gooey.

Old, Desiccated  Leather.  If old leather has lost most of its moisture then it can be a huge mistake to attempt to revive it by adding conditioner (moisture).  Think of a piece of cardboard that gets wet.  It turns the cardboard fibers to mush.  The same is true for leather.  If your leather is old and dried out, the best strategy is to leave it alone and consult a professional.  There are specific chemistries that can be used to prolong the life of old leather.  The run-of-the-mill conditioner is not one of them.

When to Condition.  As in over conditioning, if the leather is new, then it has a full compliment of moisture.  There is no reason to condition as it hasn’t had time to loose its moisture.  As a general rule, begin conditioning leather after 6 months to a year.  And then re-apply every 3 to 6 months depending how dry the environment.  In certain cases a more frequent regimen is appropriate like in the summer months of a desert climate.

How to Apply.  Generally, a thin coating is sufficient. Apply the conditioner to a soft cloth, massaging into the cloth and then wipe over the target leather. If the leather is heavily coated, then massage the leather with the conditioner.

Leather That Should Not Be Conditioned.  Be very careful with suede or nubuck leather.  While they will loose moisture as well, conditioning them in a standard procedure runs to risk of staining the leather.  It can leave the leather looking blotchy, thus destroying the aesthetic appeal.  Additionally, delicate leather like calf or lamb skin should be treated cautiously. 

The most important consideration is to be sure that you are doing the right thing with whatever maintenance products you use on leather.  In the end it's always wise to consult with a professional.

Copyright  2011, Kevin Gillan

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why doesn't the color match perfectly?

Color matching is an art form.  However, there is a bit of science to consider as well.  Here are exerts of an e-mail sent to me from a leather technician experiencing the frustration of color matching.

"I can't understand why the color is really far off, yet it also changes drastically, depending on the type of lighting. For example, the pictures I sent you only show what the color looks like in the Sun, yet when in person (No Camera) it actually appears to be the exact opposite. Meaning the untouched cushion is actually deeper (more red and/or Organic Brown tones), and the one that I re-finished, is lighter and less Reddish tones.
" changes according to the light I view it under.  I can get it pretty close outside in the sun, however, when I bring it in under all types of House lighting, it changes drastically and does not look close to matching." 

So what's going on?   

One word...  Metamerism.

Read my blog entry from about two years ago.

The solution is to match in the dominant lighting source of the room where the furniture is located and forget about all other locations (like outside in the sun) as they don't matter.  If there are differing lighting sources inside, then pick the dominant source.

Keep in mind, the eye of a professional leather technician is highly tuned.  Unless the pieces are literally touching  each other, most people will not notice a slight difference.  What they'll see is how the refinished piece looks compared to what it looked like before.  

I always caution a client that if I do a partial refinish and not all the furniture there will be a "newness factor."  The original color will have oxidized to some degree. Furthermore, there will have been some fading, particularly if there are any red tones in the original.  The red will be leached out to some degree as reds always fade the fastest.  Therefore, the newly refinished leather will appear different than the pieces that were not refinished.

This is a key learning experience in color matching, particularly with mottled colors.  If you have a color variation affect, you will always have this dilemma to one degree or another.  

The lesson learned is the lighting source is the most important element in perceived color. And, to complicate things further, the viewing angle also changes your eye's interpretation of the color.  The color shifts when viewed on a horizontal plan versus a vertical plan, like the back rest to the seat top of leather furniture.  This is called geometric metamerism.

Always prepare for this phenomena. 

Copyright  2011, Kevin Gillan 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Check out

Learn more about Advanced Leather Solutions products and services --- click 

For the professional leather technicians who read my blog, you should consider using as another web-based resource to promote your business.  It's easy to use.  Check it out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Advanced Leather Solutions Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog.  As always there is a lot going on at Advanced Leather Solutions, so finding the time to share with you has been difficult.  Here’s a snap shot of what’s been going on for the past few months.

Our new production facility is now fully operational.  Located in Anderson, CA, we have the benefit of much more affordable space than the high rent district we’ve occupied in the San Francisco Bay area.  We reduced the shop size in Hayward to help off-set the cost of expansion.  The Anderson shop is new, airy, with great light for color matching and our ongoing professional leather restoration process.  But most importantly, it’s close to Jason’s (our senior technician) home in Redding.  This has dramatically reduced his commuting time from hours to a few minutes. 

In February we conducted our first training program in our Anderson shop.  Antonio Aleman who runs Dr Vinyl of Puerto Rico attended.  With years of working on automobile grade leather and vinyl, Antonio came to us to learn about the world of furniture grade leather.   He’s now armed and ready for the leather wars in Puerto Rico.

In March we will be launching a new micro web-site singularly focused on leather paint.  We have great products that simply don’t get the exposure they should from our overly crowded original site  The new site is still under development and when launched can be found at  Expect to see us up and running by the end of March.  We welcome your comments.

Our DIY Leather Solutions ( program continues to supply leather repair and restoration solutions with remarkable results.   It’s indeed heartwarming for us to receive the consistent stream of positive feedback from our DIY client base.   We certainly have a proven, mature system. Thousands of people have been able to restore their old, tired looking leather back to like new.
In our market of Northern California, we offer choices.  We can do the work for the client or they can take on the project. Clients truly like that choice.  For the frugal minded, it makes all the difference.   It’s truly a win-win.   

Other leather technicians have seen the merit.  Leather professionals around the US and elsewhere have picked up the system and incorporated it into their solutions arsenal.  We offer our kits to professionals at a considerable discount.  They make the sale, profit a bit from it and we help them through support of the client.   Again, it’s win-win.

People are now connecting the dots in other ways.  They are going to CraigsList,  consignment stores, Goodwill and other such outlets, finding furniture that has good bones but the leather looking a little shabby, faded, etc.  Then with our help and our DIY system, they are turning furniture destined for the land fill into gems.  It certainly demonstrates the “renewable” nature of our work.

We are steadily building an increased presence with our YouTube channel.  Video documentation is a very powerful tool.  We are strong believers in visual references for our clients.  Whether it’s solving severe cat claw damage or simply restoring the color to a favorite old leather belt, with video you have the visual reference showing how to perform a specific function.

In the last week of February, I was invited as a speaker for the clients and guests of the Design Within Reach (DWR) Berkeley, CA showroom.  The topic was Caring for Classics.  I presented some simple tips on how to prolong the life of leather furniture.  As always, when I do this sort of seminar there was an extensive question and answer period as people were asking specifics about their own furniture.  It continues to demonstrate that there is a hunger for useful information and a deep lack of knowledge at the end-user level about proper care strategies for leather. 

We continue to strive to be an unbiased information source for both professional leather technicians and consumers.  We pride ourselves in answering questions in a clear and concise manner.  We don’t believe in holding back.  In fact, we strongly adhere to the principle of “No Secrets” as was the theme of our last Professional Leather Technician’s Symposium. 

As always, we’re here to help.  Call me directly, 510-786-6059 or send me an e-mail and I will respond.

Copyright 2011 Kevin Gillan

Monday, October 25, 2010

Testimonials Continue to Pour In For Our DIY Leather Restoration System

Here are two e-mail the I received this week from our DIY leather restoration clients.  It is consistent with the experience we hear about over and over again.  

Here's the first....

 It's been a few months now since I dyed my sofa & chair...                                                         
               Have to admit "I was scared to death"
Well it came out GREAT !   Everyone was amazed ------  because it was a water base I was afraid it would wash off after awhile...... however I just wiped up some spots from the front where my dog , who has allergies & rubs herself,  No problem........  I have a friend who owns a white 3 piece sectional that she loves, but it sure does need help. I'm sure you'll be hearing from her in the near future.
Just thought I'd drop you a line and say ---THANK YOU   
                                               BETTY C.

Here's the second....

I just want to send a quick note to thank you for this great experience. My sectional looks awesome and everyone comments on it now. Please see attached before and after...
Please thank Jason for helping me with the print, once I got home and started doing it, I was very confident and did not stop until done. :)
Thanks again and I will be referring you to all my friends and family.

Theresa P.

Copyright  2010, Kevin Gillan

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shoddy Products Taint the Leather Restoration Industry

It can be frustrating and confusing for consumers who try a leather furniture restoration process on a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) basis.  The market place is loaded with products that simply fail, giving the entire industry a black-eye.  The truth is a "one-size-fits-all" solution may occasionally work but can not be effective for everybody.  

At a professional level, no two leather furniture restoration projects are treated identically.  The products  and processes applied vary based on the type of leather and specific issues present in each particular  piece. Variables like body oil accumulation, cat claw damage, fading, print coat failure, etc. make each project unique.  

This applies to DIY  projects as well. A successful DIY project requires a customized solution.  The combination of the right products and  "know-how" is essential.  The person assembling a kit must have direct hands-on knowledge so he/she can analyze pictures of a project and prepare a customized DIY kit.  The "know-how" is shared via a combination of DVD or internet based video and well written instructions.   This is the essence of the Advanced Leather Solutions DIY kit.

To amplify the point here is the text of an e-mail I recently received. 

"We have two dark blue leather couches from Sealy. We purchased them 9 years ago.  I purchased a leather restoration kit from a place online that I no longer remember. The first color mix they sent me I thought worked well for the one couch so I ordered another kit from them for the second couch. The mix was a different color and also didn’t adhere as well and left a couple cushions almost ‘plasticky’ is best I can describe. I followed the directions the same for both couches, so not sure what the deal was. I contacted the company, they sent me a new kit with better looking dye and more of that alcohol based ‘cleaner’ to try to get as much of the other kit off as possible. I redid the second couch, even though 2 cushions still have a stiffer feel. That process held for a about 2 years. Kind of. 

"I ordered another kit from another site  (who have their label on the underside of the cushions along wit a bunch of tags with ‘S’ on them), and ordered enough to do both couches together. That seemed to work better than my first experience. But I see there is a lot of fading and worn spots from where you sit now. They need to be done again. 

"Is this normal to have to redo the restoration every 18 months? I have a lot of brown faded in the cracks and where heads have rested on the backs etc. Do your products guarantee to adhere better? I did the cleaning and very light sanding and several light coats (I used a sponge brush instead of the spray can adaptor). On the 3 cushions from the second couch I have deeper cracks in the leather from the bad attempt. The leather is normally very soft and supple. 

"Thank you for any assistance you can offer. We really like the comfort of the couches and they are still in very good condition minus the maintenance with the pigment adhering. We would like to keep them for years to come but would like them to look nice too."

The key questions....

Is this normal to have to redo the restoration every 18 months?  --- No, it's NOT normal.

Do your products guarantee to adhere better? ---- This is the same system we use professionally for 23 years.  If it failed that quickly we'd have been out of business a long time ago.  the problem you now have is leather that is coated with who-knows-what.  If that's failing, then my system on top will do very little good as the existing color coating is failing and will continue to fail.  So, if you want quality results you'll have to strip thoroughly. 

I have a lot of brown faded in the cracks and where heads have rested on the backs etc.  ---  Right... you have accumulation of body oils in the leather.  That should have been extracted out first!  Did either of these companies give you an oil extraction procedure?  Oil is in the leather, not on the leather.  Using a cleaner to resolve body oils is like trying to clean a tattoo form your skin.  Our system includes an oil extraction chemistry for that  purpose.

I did the cleaning and very light sanding and several light coats (I used a sponge brush instead of the spray can adaptor). ---- Our system is a wipe on system that includes a critical component - a primer that promotes quality adhesion.

 On the 3 cushions from the second couch I have deeper cracks in the leather from the bad attempt.   --- I would need to see photos of the cushions.  If the cracking is into the epidermal layer of the hide, then your leather is ruined and those leather panels would have to be replaced.  We can do that for you as well.  If the cracking is just surface, then the leather can be saved.

The leather is normally very soft and supple. ---  With our system, we think of leather on two levels, visual and tactile.  In our system we include a specialized chemistry that penetrates deep into the leather fibers, bring back suppleness as much as the leather will allow.

What separates Advanced Leather Solutions from the rest of the pack?  WE DO THIS WORK PROFESSIONALLY.  We're not a marketing company.  We actually restore peoples furniture as our main reason for existing.  If we restore a $15,000 Roche Bobois sofa, it better be a permanent solution.  

Our DIY system is a derivative of what we've been doing professionally for 23 years. We bring to the table a  working knowledge of the chemistry and process.  We know for example the system will fail if there is body oils present and the  oil extraction process is ignored. 

This allows us to customize each kit to the specific needs of the client and is the foundation of our success with our DIY system.

Copyright  2010,  Kevin Gillan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Leather and Vinyl are paired together - Bad Things Happen

Look at this picture...

What you see is a leather seat top that is sewn to a vinyl side panel.  The vinyl side panel has broken down. Once vinyl gets to this state of deterioration it cannot be effectively repaired.  Note that on the leather side of the seam, everything is normal. This is a clear example of how quality top grain leather will outlast vinyl.  All of the stress of weight baring is on the leather panel.  The side panel is simply flexing as a person sits on the seat cushion, yet the deterioration of the vinyl is plainly obvious.  This is a fairly common manufacturing process to intended reduce cost for the manufacturer.  It is most commonly found on motion furniture (recliners).

Here's a close up of the same picture.

Note that the erosion of the vinyl is complete along the entire length of the seam.

Why does this happen?

The answer lies in the attributes of both materials.  Leather is organic.  It is infused with oils at the tannery to impart suppleness.  Leather breathes.  As such it looses its moisture (oils) through evaporation.  Vinyl is a synthetic byproduct of the petrochemical industry.  Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is typically a solid.  Think of the plastic garden pipe used in home irrigation system. PVC pellets are heated and mixed with an oil then this mixture flows over a cloth and when dry is now vinyl as found on furniture.  The oil in vinyl is not molecularly bound to the vinyl molecule.  Its free floating.

As leather looses its moisture through evaporation, to equalize that moisture loss, it wicks the oils from the vinyl side of the seam.  Thus oils vacate the vinyl, as they are sucked into the leather.  This loss of oil gradually reduces the vinyl to its original solid state and it slowly flakes away as shown in the picture.  The thinner the vinyl, the quicker this will happen.

Once the vinyl coating of the cloth substrate disappears, it cannot be replaced through a repair.  The only solution is to remove the offended panel and replace with new.  To do that requires disassembly of the furniture which balloons the cost beyond reasonable.

This vinyl failure is one of the perils of a leather-vinyl combination.  Most people are not aware that components of there furniture are vinyl.  Generally the piece is sold as  "leather furniture" when in fact it's part leather and part vinyl.  When I see this condition I recommend that the client not invest further in the piece.  It's time to get new furniture.

If you have leather and vinyl on the same piece of furniture, then to prevent this from becoming your problem, keep the leather moisturized.  Properly and frequently apply leather conditioner (SG - 25 moisturizer) to ensure that the leather has no need to wick the oils from the vinyl.

Copyright 2010 Kevin Gillan

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ink on Leather? Beware of Home Remedies

A consumer has a new Ashley Furniture leather sofa that has suffered an pen mark (ink) on it.  The owner of the piece did an Internet search and read that hairspray would pull out ink from leather.  This picture shows the results.  The hairspray didn't pull out the ink, instead it stripped the outer color coating (print coat) in a few places around the ink.  Note the light spots.  That's the exposed base color coat after the print coat was dissolved by the hairspray.  

What actually happened when the hairspray hit the leather?  Hairspray has alcohol as an ingredient along with a bunch of other nasty stuff including versions of lacquer.  Alcohol is a solvent that will strip color from leather.  The hairspray theory is based on the alcohol's ability to pull the color of the ink out of the leather.  However as you see, the hairspray did strip color, just the wrong color.  It dissolved the color of the leather.

The unfortunate fact is alcohol can't discriminate between the coloring on the leather and the ink coloring.  This is exacerbated by this particular leather's weak chemical resistance, a hallmark of Ashley leather furniture.  The broad hairspray pattern hit the leather in a wide swath causing collateral damage. It's like the old military practice of carpet bombing.  Whereas what is needed is precision in attacking just the ink stripe, leaving the surrounding leather unharmed.

There are several strategies to resolve an ink problem.  Keep in mine this key point --- the ink is not harming the leather.  It is strictly an aesthetic issue. Here is the text of an earlier post from my blog that specifically discusses ink on leather.

In the interest of disseminating accurate and complete information about leather furniture restoration and repair, I wrote this post for people who have the common problem of ink on their leather furniture. There's lots of misinformation on the web about ink on leather. So, here are the facts.

Ink on leather? It's a common problem and completely solvable. The only question is if it requires professional attention or, can you resolve the issue yourself.

First, the basics:

1. Ink is primarily a dye. As such the ink has recolored the leather. It is not harmful to the leather. So the problem is strictly aesthetic.

2. If you can get to it quickly, then using a damp cloth, attempt to transfer as much ink off the leather as you can before it sets in the leather. Gently wipe or blot. In a short period of time, the ink travels into the leather. Don’t rub or you’ll push the ink into the leather, and possible rub out the leather’s grain pattern. Keep in mind that once ink penetrates into the leather it essentially has recolored the leather. No amount of aggressive rubbing will change that fact. You might also try a soft artist eraser, gently tracing the ink line. The objective is to pull the ink out before it has a chance to set.

3. Once it is set, removing ink from the leather is NOT a cleaning issue. In almost all cases any cleaner used that is strong enough to pull out the ink, won’t know the difference between the color of the ink and the color of the leather. Aggressive cleaning may pull out the ink, but will also pull out the leather color as well. And, aggressive cleaning chemicals will do more harm (pH damage) to the leather than the ink. 

4. The use of ink sticks or other products advertised to remove ink is risky business. The active ingredient is a solvent intended to neutralize the ink. Its success depends on how sensitive your leather is to chemical intervention. If the finish on your leather is chemically resistant it may work, but then again, A) it may pull the color out of the leather, B) may simply smear the ink around, C) may pull the protective top coat from the leather, D) may not do anything at all. Ink sticks and the like are clearly a “Buyer Beware” issue. Be careful.

5. Consider this --- one attribute of ink is that it migrates. That is to say the ink moves. This means that an accidental ink stripe may be absorbed into the leather and present a gradually fading reference that dissipates within a few weeks. So, a minor ink stripe may disappear of its own accord. Therefore, as time is not critical, leave it alone for a few weeks and see what happens. It may disappear altogether or become faint enough that it is no longer be an issue. However, if there is a high concentration of dye (i.e. permanent marker like a Sharpie pen) or a larger volume (ink spill) then what you see will be there for a long, long time.

6. If it hasn't dissipated on its own accord, or doesn’t responded to your gentle cleaning attempts then it’s probably time to turn it over to a professional. There is a two step process to resolve it. 

A solvent, (e.g. denatured alcohol) is used to neutralize the ink, knowing that it will in all likelihood affect the color of the leather. If you want to try this step yourself, then use a Q-Tip or like device moistened with alcohol and trail down the ink line. Keep turning the Q-Tip to a clean area so that you don’t transfer the ink that has been absorbed by the Q-Tip back on the leather. If the ink has been neutralized, and you haven’t disturbed the color, you’re very lucky. 

If the color has been affected, then it’s on to step # 2. Using an airbrush, and the properly mixed leather color, the offended area is airbrushed and viola - the problem disappears. The final step is to apply a top coat with the air brush. The top coat is the primary protection on the leather and it also dictates the sheen. 

It is important to note that simply coloring over the ink is likely not effective. Remember, one of ink’s attributes is migration. If you simply color over, then the ink will migrate up through the color coating and present itself all over again.

Once ink has set, ink removal from leather generally requires a professional as the key to success is color matching. Without experience, color matching can be very difficult. A final consideration is the type of leather. The more delicate the leather, the more difficult it will be to extract the ink and apply color so that it is undetectable. For more information about this and other issues associated with leather, go to

Copyright 2009, Kevin Gillan