Thursday, June 17, 2010

Can nubuck leather be restored?

I received an e-mail regarding nubuck leather restoration. The sender asked several questions about  restoration issues for nubuck.  Her questions are common so I am posting them here along with my response.

1. Can the oil extractor be used without redyeing after? - No.  the oil extractor pulls out the offending oils but does not resolve the stain. You must apply color to conceal the stain.

2.  Can I redye the nubuck and not turn it into a finished leather/ maintain the soft nubuck feel?  - No.  
A.) The coloring chemistry required to conceal fading or staining is NOT a dye.  Dyes are translucent, therefore lack covering power.  To conceal staining you must use a chemistry that consists of large robust molecules for covering power.  That's the essence of a pigment.  So you would transform from an unfinished (dyed) leather to a finished (pigmented) leather.  
B.) Regarding the feel issue, our process is designed to have minimal impact on the tactile presentation when the process is applied according to our instructions. Nonetheless, we cannot claim it will feel like your nubuck when it was new.  It will appear to be new, but it will have a finish on the leather whereas now there is no finish on the leather, so to a degree, you trade off  tactile for visual.

3. Can I send a swatch  to you to  do a sample  so I know how much harder/stiffer it will be after re dyed?  Yes.  Keep in mind that we will select a random color for this test as it's to test feel related issues only.  Else we have to invest in a technician's time to do a color match.  We charge $75 for a color match.  In this case color is not the issue.

4. How long do you guarantee the color to not rub, crack or peel off.  There are three variables in the process. A.) The chemistry, B.) The application technique and C.) The initial condition of the leather.  
A). The Chemistry --- Our DIY system is based on the same chemistry (improved over the years) we've been using professionally for over 20 years.  It is manufactured by us to strict standards --- chemically engineered to withstand the rigors of a normal household.  Because we make these finishes, we are in control of the quality of ingredients.  Frankly we believe that they are as good as if not better than anything coming our of a tannery today.  
B.) The application technique --- I cannot control your application technique.  If you do not follow the instructions, I can't control the outcome.  We have client's where we have completed conversions from nubuck to finished leather who have had many years of additional use from their faded, stained leather. Our guarantee is 100% money back for the kit if you are not satisfied after you do an initial test on your leather.   Beyond that, the long term viability of the process is a joint responsibility, your application and our chemistry.  
C.) Initial condition of the leather --- while the leather can be stained or faded, as long as the integrity of the leather itself is not compromised, then the system works as advertised.  This point is amplified in the next response.  

5.The local leather repair experts in my area  all maintain that  touch up redye  (post tanning) is usually a temporary fix  with an expected lifetime of 3 years.  If this were true, then we would not have succeeded in this business for over 20 years.  As notes previously, a key to success is the integrity of the existing leather.  As long as the epidermis of the hide is still intact, then the system works beautifully, offering like-new results. This is a critical variable.  If the leather is fundamentally compromised then the issue is the leather, not the restoration system.  It is for this reason we require photos so I can evaluate the condition of your leather before we produce a kit.   I will not offer any guarantee if my evaluation determines that the leather is beyond restoration.

copyright 2010, Kevin Gillan

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