Friday, September 17, 2010

What Is Best for Leather Color Application – Rub or Spray

When doing a full color restoration to leather furniture, automobile leather or garments there are two application options with Advanced Leather Solutions color system – rub and spray.  But, which is best?

There are clear pluses and minuses to both.

Spray System with High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) Air Equipment:

  •       Even color application
  •       More efficient use of material – less waste
  •       No potential for streaking
  •       More “factory like” result
  •       Less labor intensive
  •       More variety of mottling techniques if required


  •       Over spray considerations
  •       Must tape-off all not leather components
  •       Must have expensive equipment (Compressor and Air Gun)     
  •       Not practical for in-home application due to over spray 
  •       Requires top-coat as sealer coat

Rub System with Wipe-on Color Applicators


  •       Simple 
  •       Easy to master the application technique 
  •    Does not require experience
  •       Single pass - does not require a top-coat
  •       On-site application does not require taping-off


  •       More material consumed 
  •       Takes longer – more strenuous 
  •       Potential for streaking 
  •       Not as fine a finish as spray

In the end, both systems produce excellent results.   The choice of one over the other is often dictated by the nature of the assignment and availability of application tools.

 For a consumer, the rub system is better suited as it’s so simple to master and doesn’t require specialized application equipment.  For the professional leather technician the rub system offers the ability to work on-site with no threat of over-spray issues.

In a professional shop environment the choice is generally to spray as it more efficient use of labor time and materials and will produce a finer, more factory like result.

In our shop we use a hybrid approach.  In either case leather has to be properly primed for quality adhesion.  Then, we spray a section of leather with one hand and wipe it while wet with the other.  This mechanical wiping motion promotes better adhesion as it drives the color down into the grain pattern.   We then spray each subsequent coat to create a smooth, even color distribution, followed by topcoat application applied via spray.  Here is a video link to YouTube that shows a color change in our Hayward, CA leather restoration studio.

Both approaches have their place.  Our rub system has worked wonders with consumers, empowering them with the ability to restore their own furniture using the Advanced Leather Solutions’ Do-It-Yourself kit concept - a rub based solution. Check it out at this web-site:

Our professional leather technician clients have generally standardized on the spray approach.  However, some use both depending the circumstances.  For example, Leather Doctor in the Columbus, Ohio area uses both --- the rub approach when doing in-home restoration and the spray option in his shop facility.

To learn more about the art and science of leather restoration contact us at Advanced Leather Solutions or go to our web-site

Copyright 2010, Kevin Gillan