How Does Leather Get its Colour?

leather king specialist
May 19, 2018 Leather design

Have you ever looked at a leather product, felt its texture, and just marvelled at its vibrant colour? I’m sure most, if not all, of us have! If you ever asked yourself how leather and its makers in the industry can make it look so beautiful, then wonder no more! There are different types of finishes and colour tones that give leather its distinct appearance and here are a few of them:

Leather Paint

Leather paints account for nearly all colours of leather as it is the most common finish. The acrylic-based paint is an opaque colour leather dye made specifically for leather and faux leather. It is up to the maker how to make the colours match, either for a solid one-color finish or a two-tone kind of topcoat.

Semi-Transparent and Transparent Aniline Dyes

For aniline, nubuck, and suede type of leathers, the beautiful tan and woody colours are made by using semi-transparent aniline dyes. Aniline and nubuck leathers require semi-transparent dyes to colour noticeable areas, especially when that leather is up for repair. Aniline leather is famous for having the priciest finish, while the nubuck finish is known for being velvety in nature. The semi-transparent dyes help in achieving these effects.

Transparent dyes on the other hand, keep the appearance of the natural grain and markings of the leather. It is said that this finish should be hand applied to the material.

Metallic / Pearled Effect

Metallic flakes are used to reflect light and create a vibrant sheen-like appearance in the leather material. It definitely elevates the appearance of any coloured leather! It is recommended for leather coats that were either applied by hand or lightly sprayed.

Wax & Oil Finishes

This is actually a rare type of leather finish as it gives the material a special appearance and texture! However, it is difficult to repair when the colour of the leather starts to fade. The wax and oil substance prevents the leather paints and dyes from being absorbed into the leather, so it is quite a challenging finish to repair and maintain!

Now, have you ever wondered how these different colours and finishes are applied on the leather material? Here are three of the most famous types of colour application on leather which are actually staples in the leather industry:

Sponging / Hand-Wiped Method

This method is the most commonly-used colour application on leather! It raises the look of the material by changing its appearance and feel. By using a cloth or sponge, this method can be used to fix colour loss, restore original colours, and repair permanent stains.

Brush Finishes

Foam brushes are used to apply dye and paint to small areas. Brush finishes are best used for small repairs since they help blend the colours together and create unique, vibrant designs.


Lastly, the spray method is said to be the best method in applying dyes onto the leather material. The colours of the dyes can be blended extremely well by spraying a few light coats on the leather.

Contact Leather King for your Central Coast, Newcastle, Sydney and Hunter Valley leather repair and maintenance!

Whether it be an old couch in your family room, the leather seat of your car, or the swivel chair you have at your office, Leather King can help with repair and maintenance. Our services include general refurbishments, chair restorations, leather upholstery, antique and vinyl upholstery repairs, among others. No other leather repair service can match. Choose Leather King today!

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