Many people choose to dye their leather products in order to give them a new splash of colour or a new lease of life. When going through these leather projects using leather dye, it is important to make sure that you correctly seal leather dye at the end of the process. This is the simplest form of leather finishing, and will help to prevent dye from wearing off over time.
Leather sealer can be used on all sorts of leather products, from leather jackets to leather shoes, leather car seats and even a leather sofa.
Do you have to seal leather after using leather dye?
You do not have to seal leather after dyeing, however, doing so can be incredibly beneficial. Sealing leather after dyeing protects leather from external damage such as drying, cracking, shrinkage and putrefying. It will make the colour of the dyed leather last much longer by protecting it and preventing water damage and overall colour loss.
Sometimes, leather bought from shops such as tooled leather, has been coloured with leather dyes and not sealed. Using a seal on these products will make them last longer and provide a protective layer, prolonging the leather colour.
Using leather sealer can also be very helpful if you have excess dye on your leather product, and can help to stop the leather dye from bleeding onto other products, protecting your shirts, jumpers, car and more. Sealed leather is unlikely to bleed colour at all.
What is a leather sealer?
Leather sealer is a product, sometimes solvent and acrylic based, which is specifically designed to protect leather seats and upholstery. It does so without affecting the finish of the leather, and often even improves the finish.
How to seal leather dye
In order to seal leather dye, you will need a few tools. It is likely that you will have most of them at home anyway, making the process even easier. Before you start the process of sealing your leather piece you should make sure that you have:
- Leather sealer
- Clean cloth
- Soft brush
Many leather sealers will come with a sponge applicator, but for a more fine leather finish you should use a small, soft brush to ensure that you get all the edges and nice, even thin layers. Once you have all of these tools ready, you can move onto sealing leather. Simply follow these steps:
1. After the leather dyeing process, ensure the leather is completely dry
If you begin to seal dye before it is completely dry, you will find that your sealer just smears around the top coat of your dye. Leave the dyed leather to dry for several hours in a well properly ventilated space prior to beginning your sealing process.
You may also find it beneficial to use a leather conditioner after dyeing leather in order to moisten the natural fibres within the material, as often the leather dye can dry the material out. Using a good quality conditioner will keep the fabric safe and flexible under the sealer.
2. Prepare the leather sealer
You will need to shake or stir your leather sealer before use, as with most paints and dye. This allows you to better paint on a thin layer and will prevent any lumps or clumps appearing in the leather finish.
3. Begin applying leather sealer
Using a soft brush, begin to paint on your leather sealer. It is best to paint a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that you like the finish. Once certain, paint the rest of the shoe or leather surface in a circular motion.
You should be sure to only apply a thin coat for the first coat, as this will allow you to properly gauge how many more coats you might need to cover the leather.
4. Let the sealer dry
Between coats you should leave your leather until it is completely dry. Do not dry the leather under direct sunlight, as this can dry the material out further, leading to cracked leather or inflexible material. Instead, simply leave the leather item in a room with proper ventilation for a few hours.
5. Apply the second coat
Once you’re sure the first coat is dry, you can add a second light coat to the leather. Follow the same technique as last time with a soft brush and circular motions, then leave to dry. You can add a third coat if you need to afterwards – in fact, you can add multiple coats.
6. Lightly buff
Once you are satisfied with how many coats you’ve used, and your final coat is dry, you should use a sheep’s wool buffer or clean cloth to buff the leather. This will make the leather dye look much better and will give the leather a high gloss shine that it might not have had.
What leather sealer should you use?
There are a few types of leather sealer out there, and a few myths about leather sealer. One such myth says that you can use olive oil to condition and nourish leather – this is not true. The two best types of sealer to use after a dye application are:
Leather resolene is great at protecting leather. It is a super sealer made from acrylic and has lots of colour options to ensure that you don’t hide your leather’s fantastic new dyed colour.
Carnauba wax is another fantastic sealer that protects leather. It is moisture and dirt resistant, too, so keeps the leather protected from more than just warping and cracking. It is useful if you’re hoping to make your leather water resistant, and will help to provide a professional look and even a bit of a satin finish.