Friday, April 23, 2010

What's in a DIY Leather Restoration Kit?

The simple answer --- Advanced Leather Solutions includes everything necessary to get the job done.

Our kit structure is not about quantities of material as much as it’s about making sure they are the RIGHT materials for a specific leather restoration project (e.g. colored matched to specification, appropriate primer for the leather, etc.). As professional leather furniture restorers with 21 years experience in doing this work for our clients, we know what works and what is a prescription for failure. With our program the client is tapping into our professional experience, not just buying products. With our program, we are involved as much or little as the client desires. We think of the project as the client being our hands on-site. This is a key reason why we have had enormous success with this program.

The additional beauty is that the system is water based, so safe for the environment and safe to use in a home.

Now, on to the details....

Each color restoration system is custom tailored to the specifics of that client's furniture. We manufacture most of these components in our shop. We're not a reseller. We're the manufacturer. But, more importantly, we make this material for our own professional use. As leather repair and restoration specialists we could buy from any other supplier. However, we choose to make our own for quality control and effectiveness purposes.

Here are the contents of a typical kit for a configuration like a sofa, love seat, chair and ottoman:

1. Custom Base Color - matched specifically to your leather. - 128 oz. The coloring chemistry is our unique blend. We buy raw materials and blend them for best performance and spot-on color matched to the client’s color.

2. Custom Print Color - matched specifically to your leather. - 64 oz - This is an optional component if your leather has a mottled coloring affect that we are matching. When we examine your sample swatch, we analysis the color to determine if it's required.

3. Deep Penetrating Moisturizer - to improve the suppleness of your leather. 16 oz. This is a specialty product unique to our company.

4. Oil Extractor - To address any body oil issues in the leather furniture. If this step is omitted and there are body oils in the leather (very common) then it’s the place any system will fail. - 32 oz. We created this product and it is not available from any other source.

5. Primer - This sets up the leather to accept the color. Proper priming is essential to quality color adhesion. 48 oz. This also is a unique creation of ours and not available any where else.

6. Sanding pads - This is necessary to knock down chaffing that is usually evident on the high wear areas like the top of the seats. Also, it’s to be applied as necessary between each color coat to help get you to a more factory like result. These are a specialty product manufactured by 3M and not commonly available.

7. Priming Pad - This is like a heavy duty Scotch-Brite like pad made by the abrasives company, Norton, that you will use to drive the primer into the high wear areas like the top of the seats. (Not commonly available.)

8. Priming glove - This is a great tool to use in the priming step to ensure complete priming in creases, etc.

9. Foam brush color applicator - This are not the ordinary foam brush. These are the best money can buy. Most foam brushes will not hold up to prolonged use. These do.

10. Foam block applicator - This is a unique specialty product we manufacture for ease of application. It's a closed-cell foam color applicator that we contour and cut such that it fits neatly in your hand. You cannot buy this any place as we are the only company that actually makes them.

11. Tamping tool - This is another unique product we create that allows for best results when creating a subtle mottling affect on leather.

12. Tamping tub. - This carries the print color.

13. Polishing Paper - This is a unique tool that improves the end tactile result. Polishing paper is another specialty product made by 3M but is not widely available.

14. Final Dressing - This chemistry imparts a silky smooth feel to the leather and the last step in the process. 16 oz. This also is unique to us.

15. Written Instructions - 30 pages pictures, a flow diagram that shows the overall system and each step in the procedure.

16. DVD(s) - We include a general DVD with each kit. We include specific targeted DVDs as necessary. For example if you have cat scratches we have a DVD specific to correcting cat claw damage.

17. Latex gloves - While this is water based chemistry, we include latex gloves to protect your hands.

18. Practice leather. - Each kit contains a section of practice leather so you can practice any step off of your furniture if you desire.

19. Full telephone or video conferencing support (if you have that facility) at any time before, during or after the project.

The kit will include specialty items if necessary. For example if the client has an open seam, we include the sewing tools necessary and show the client how through a DVD.

A client can purchase each of these items separately from our web-site. With the Kit System concept, we package them specific to the target configuration. As a bundle, the client is generally saving between 25% and 50% versus the "a-la-carte" approach.

Finally, if a client brought their pieces to our Hayward, CA Advanced Leather Solutions studio to restore (professional restoration is 4 – 5 times more than the cost of a kit), the client could care less what materials we consumed in the process. In that context we think of the DIY System similarly. The client is paying a fixed fee to get the job done. We deliver far more than is necessary to ensure the client has enough material to complete the project. This means the kit becomes a built-in maintenance product going forward as the client has the color.

Back to the basics- What’s in a kit? This simple answer applies. The kit contains everything I would need if I walked into a client's home to do this job for them. At the end of the day, we set this system up to maximize the probability of success.

Copyright 2010, Kevin Gillan

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