How To Darken Leather
How To

How To Darken Leather

When purchasing leather, you may find that the leather that you want is lighter than what you expected. While it is true that in some cases you can exchange the leather for a darker hue, there are times when you will be pressed for time, or the leather is non-exchangeable. In these situations, you will need to know a practical way in which to darken your leather. Here are a few methods.

Method One: Use Oil

​One method in which to darken leather is to use coconut oil or a non-scented oil on the leather. Ensure that the oil will not cause the leather to rot or mildew. It is best to use a natural oil. Apply the oil evenly using a cotton swab or a clean non-abrasive cloth. Keep in mind that the darker you want he leather the more coats you should add. Another consideration is that some oils when they dry will cause your leather to stiffen, so keep that in mind.

​Method Two: Shoe Polish

A bit crude of a method to changing the color of your leather, shoe polish can be added to darken up the shade a bit, especially if you have leather shoes. How to darken leather is easy. Simply apply the shoe polish evenly (small circles) over the entire surface of the leather. Let it dry and then with another rag, buff it. The downside to using shoe polish is that it is rather messy and rather smelly. However, the pros are that shoe polish is relatively cheap, does not require specialty equipment, and that the results are instantaneous.

​The trick to darkening the leather using polish is to pick a shade which corresponds to the natural leather and then go one or two shades darker. I would not advocate using a mega store to find shoe polish, but rather go to your local leather artisan or leather provider and seek a professional brand.

Method Three: Dye

When you buy leather, you should take into consideration whether or not the leather is Aniline or not. If the leather is Aniline, you should be able to saturate the leather in a dye to darken it. You can choose how to darken leather products by choosing different colors. When dye is applied, you will need to let the leather completely soak into the pores. Keep in mind that when the dye dries the color could be lighten.

Semi-Aniline products can be dyed in some cases. However, the protective coating over the leather would have to be sanded off or another method would need to be applied in order to have the dye adhere to the skin.

Method Four: Use Professional Leather Darkening Oil

Some use cleaner and conditioners to darken their leather. Depending upon the conditioner which is used there may be some slight alteration to the color for a time. However, as the leather dries out the color is apt to lighten. If using a cleaner and conditioner, it will be the conditioner which darkens the leather. Check with your provider to see how to darken leather in this way.

Leather Darkening Oil is similar to conditioners as well as the coconut oil method, only it is a professional product which is specifically designed to darken leather. Apply the darkening oil in the same method that you would apply any cleaner, solvent, or polish to leather unless the instructions tell you otherwise. Let it dry completely to see the results before applying any additional coatings to the leather.

Method Five: Heat

This method is a bit dangerous for your leather project and I would only suggest that you try it under the careful watch of a leather professional. You can apply a measure of heat to the skin of your leather to darken it. Keep in mind that you are essentially cooking the skin (think of the skin of a ham before and after it is roasted and you will get the concept). It is very easy to burn the edges of the leather or to tarnish the skin. If using the heating method keep the temperature low and the leather located well enough above the heat to avoid burning. Note also that due to leather being a pore based skin, the longer you apply heat, the stiffer it will become as it dries out.

Get some help before you commit to the change

If you are new to darkening leather, you should seek out the advice of a professional leather artisan. The professional should be able to show you how to darken the leather properly, or to offer that service to you. In addition to their expertise on darkening leather, they should be able to advise which products are best suited for your specific project.

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