How to restore the colour of a leather motorcycle jacket

Written by dan antony
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How to restore the colour of a leather motorcycle jacket
Motorbiking! (Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A well-worn motorcycle jacket will show some wear over time. Most jackets are not dyed, but have a surface coat of paint and some finish. This type of finish shows lighter through its scratches and is more prone to fading than a deep dye. You can restore the colour with the durable, acrylic-based paints available for restoring shoes. You may find these materials through leather retailers, shoe-care providers or cobblers.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clean cloths
  • Deglazer
  • Leather paint (spray variety)
  • Heavy wooden hanger
  • Broomstick
  • Bin bags

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  1. 1

    Wipe off any dirt or grime with a clean, wet cloth. You do not need detergents or saddle soap.

  2. 2

    Prepare the surface using a leather deglazer. This removes waxes, oils and finishes, preparing the leather to receive the paint. Fiebing deglazer is available from leather retailers. Meltonian's Nu-Life Colour Preparer performs the same function (and, Meltonian offers leather paint as well).

  3. 3

    Select a well-ventilated area to paint the jacket, but one in which no dust or debris will fall onto the jacket when it is wet with paint.

  4. 4

    Hang the jacket on a heavy hanger, over several sweaters or sweatshirts or other heavy items, and with those items encased in a bin bag. This will "plump up" the jacket, ensuring that you reach every centimetre and wrinkle.

  5. 5

    Push a broomstick through the sleeves, into one sleeve and out the other. Stuff the sleeves with socks or some other object, to plump the sleeves and open up the leather.

  6. 6

    Spray the jacket lightly, from top to bottom, with a paint colour that matches the jacket closely. Do not paint more heavily over the faded areas; you will even the colour with a second or third coat.

  7. 7

    Wait 15 minutes for the first coat to dry. Repeat the spray, no more than twice.

  8. 8

    Allow the jacket to dry for at least two hours.

  9. 9

    Finish the coat with a high-quality conditioner, like Lexol or Fiebing's. A spray conditioner is likely the best choice, as it will have a lower oil content. A conditioner heavy in mink or neat's-foot oil will soak through the paint, and may loosen it; a spray conditioner will protect the paint's surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Leather World Technologies offers all-in-one leather recolouring kits; while these are supposedly for leather upholstery, upholstery paint is very durable, and will work well on your motorcycle jacket.
  • Angelus Acrylic Leather Paint No. 720 is very durable, and popular among leather artists, but does not come in a spray variety. You can use this water-based paint with a paint sprayer, which are available from most hardware stores.
  • Spray your jacket every few weeks with the conditioner, to protect it from UV rays and protect the surface paint.
  • If the scratches and worn spots of your jacket retain their colour, then, your jacket is aniline dyed. You must dye, rather than paint it.

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