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

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad the customer didn't know what to expect. And by the time it fails, how would the average person know if that's normal or shoddy or caused by something they did? Example from my experience, after 2 years in the recoloring business: A chair from the 1970's was recolored by the owner's sister, who had a leather and vinyl recoloring business, part of a national franchise. The owner had watched her sister do it - color was sprayed on without any preparation. This was done approx 10 years before I got it. It was stiff, like old vinyl, and the color was extensively cracked, flaking all over. The color came off so easily with my fingernail, that I tried a smooth butterknife and in minutes had stripped all the "new" color off, with chips flying, like removing old house paint. The original color underneath, was smooth, shiny, and hardly flaking - although very cracked. The leather itself had many small creases, but few cracks. Once free of the second color coating, the leather felt supple. Clearly, without priming, the new color never bonded well. It also must have stiffened with time, or it would have cracked off much sooner.