The slideshow below provides an example of an older leather chair restored to its original condition. In addition, the typical issues that can affect unfinished leather are explained. Fortunately, even the most stubborn issues can be resolved by reconditioning the leather.
Body oil may show itself in a few months or in many years, and it’s a function of several variables— length of time exposed to skin, chemical nature of the person’s pore output, chemical resistance of the leather as examples. We have also discovered that people who take particular medications will have their body chemistry altered by these meds, making their body oil more caustic.
Mistakenly, people interpret body oil accumulation in leather as soiling or dirt and attempt to clean it away. It’s not a cleaning issue as the oils are in the leather, not on the leather. A cleaner will remove whatever dirt particles are sitting on the leather, but won’t touch whatever is deeply embedded in the leather. For the professional leather technicians, body oils present a problem on three levels.
1. The are visually offensive (big, nasty-looking dark or soiled spots in the leather).
2. The oils penetrate through the colored coating on the leather, eroding adhesion of that color coating.
3. The chemical output from a person’s skin is caustic to leather as there is a pH differential between leather and human. This differential creates a chemical reaction in the leather that breaks down, or rots, the leather’s fiber structure. If the problem is not addressed soon enough, the leather panel cannot be saved.
The staining can be resolved by the application of color over the damaged leather area. However, before re-coloring the leather, these body oils have to be removed. If you simply color over the body oil, the new color won’t adhere properly and will peel up.
The leather restoration pros at Custom Color Specialists have developed a specific procedure to passively draw these body oils out of the leather, and remove the oil from the leather. At that point the color and finish can be resolved.