Evening all! So here goes, bare with me... **PICTURES OF FINISHED PROJECT AT THE BOTTOM**
As discussed above, I had purchased a set of Alezan orange seats (Stock) to replace the black set that came with the car. The orange seats were showing some pretty visible wear, but the golden ticket was that they had no rips or tears...
The black set were worn, however a great thread by @HEADPHONES pointed me in the direction of Angelus leather dye. This is an easy, quick fix for worn black interior and I highly recommend taking a look. That thread can be found here:
Moving on! I knew before the purchase that both seats would need restoring/work to look their best. So I needed know how and products. This is where @Ricey came in, and a massive shout out to you buddy! Thank you again for your help. Guys RICEY does this professionally, from what I've experienced these seats (although painted badly from factory) respond well to resurfacing, so definitely give RICEY a shout for a professional job! I may have saved some cash doing it myself. But i don't think I will ever be %100 happy with the job... Scared ill get in after the gym and walk out with nappy rash up my back
So, recommended brands to purchase restoration products from:
Furniture Clinic (This is who I went for)
All three of these brands come highly recommended and sell restoration kits. However read the descriptions, the kits vary in their 'coverage'. I ended up purchasing a medium sized kit from Furniture Clinic and supplementing it with additional products as recommended by @Ricey.
Products in my kit (Not all of this is required, however they extend the longevity and quality of the finish)
UltraClean - Used with the leather brush and a microfibre cloth. This is an effective 'pre-cleaner', this product works surprisingly well on its own with a good scrub. 'Tired seats', well worth trying this first!
Alcohol Cleaner - A mild based alcohol cleaner, similar to isopropyl alcohol.
Leather Prep - Strong solvent based cleaning fluid, helps remove factory polyurethane coatings (IMPORTANT) (Solvent soluble silicones etc)
Binder - Helps loose/freyed/worn fabric material bind together, think of it as a liquid filler. Can be used in multiple coats to 'build up' areas not bad enough for filler.
Heavy Filler - Used with the Furniture Clinic filler tool can reduce major cracks. Very flexible.
Adhesion Promoter + Crosslinker X - Think of it as a 'primer'. Used for 'high use' large areas. Gives the colorant a better surface to bond too. The Crosslinker is a chemical reactor, needed to start the curing process.
Leather Colourant - Furniture Clinic offer a colour matching service. I sent my headrest in for matching. BE CAREFUL, if your seats were like mine, the headrest may be lighter than the worn seat fabric. There is surplus fabric underneath the seats that can be cut, however same warning. This fabric will be a different colour than the seat fabric.
Leather finish MATT/GLOSS + Crosslinker eco - Both of these bottles come in the restoration kit, they allow you to make a matt to satin to gloss finish. Crosslinker eco is a chemical reactor, starts the hardening process when added.
Satin Sealant - This is an aerosol version of the Leather finish. Pre mixed for a satin finish.
Air Propellant - This is for the air brush. I ended up using 1 and a half tins.
Air brush kit - A very useful tool for restoring the seats, very prone to prolonged use and clogging. But use mindfully for a great result. An HVLP spray gun/compressor is a much better option.
ABRALON 500/1000/2000 foam sanding pad - Great tools for leveling the working area.
Cotton towel - Really useful for rubbing excess products away from the working area, allot of the products can be quite 'tacky' so its worth trying to avoid microfibres where possible.
Right then, onwards... This is by no means a 'step by step', as I will probably leave something out, but hopefully this shows what to expect visually through out the project.
1. CLEAN - Grab a cloth, the leather brush and Ultra Clean and get filthy with it!
2. Leather Prep - You will need the abrasive pad, cotton balls (To hold the product) and the 'prep'. Your trying to remove the factory PU coating, waxes, grease etc. You will have colourant transfer onto the pad at this stage. This product dries FAST, so if your slow like me, be generous. Failure to work with the product can literally move/deposit existing colorant. This can be rectified over the next few stages, but easier to avoid.
3. Leather Alcohol Cleaner - This product is similar to using Isopropyl alcohol to remove surface contaminants. Any of the product that was not removed by the leather prep (dried on surface etc) should come off with this. Again being a solvent this product dries FAST. So work accordingly.
4. Sanding - Grab the 1000 foam sanding pad and work the cracks and worn areas. For really bad damage you may want to use the 500 grit pad, but this is very abrasive.
Following a sanding session, grab the alcohol cleaner and wipe down the worked area. Remove the dust created by sanding. SAND / WIPE / REPEAT if necessary.
5. Binder - Think of this as a liquid filler. I think after the project this was one of my favourite products. For the Z seats the cracking (at least on mine) is not deep. One of the main things to remember is allot of the damage we see on these seats is actually damage to the layer of paint NOT the leather, so the binder really helps to smooth the surface ready for colorant. Grab a sponge and apply to areas that need strengthening or appear 'frayed' like the bolster piping. From this point in the finish will be 'tacky', don't worry this is normal. The final finish layers will rectify this.
6. Filler - This heavy filler is super flexible and speeds up repairing visible cracks and creases. Remember when this stuff dries is can shrink a bit like poly filler, So give it time to dry and it may need a top up. Also, 'tinting' the filler will help when painting as you don't have such a white product to cover up. A couple of drops of colourant will be enough to 'tint' your filler.
REMEMBER TO SAND AND WIPE DOWN WITH ALCOHOL CLEANER AFTER EVERY FILLER APPLICATION
7. COLOURANT - Layers the game! Grab a sponge and be sure to get colourant in all the cracks and creases, following seam lines etc. A good base coat is essential for the sprayed layers to adhere to. When using the sponge be sure to 'dab' rather than wipe. This will help with the finish.
COLORANT / AIRBRUSH KIT - Ultimately an HVLP (High volume low pressure) spray gun and air compressor would be the best tool for the job. But the air brush kit is simple and effective if used correctly. The air propellant cans get very cold after long use and can clog the nozzle. You can place the cans in a bucket of warm water. If your stopping in-between coats rinse the kit out with hot water under the tap.
REMEMBER AFTER A SPRAYED LAYER, USE THE 2000 GRIT FOAM PAD TO ENSURE A SUPER SMOOTH SURFACE, WIPE DOWN WITH ALCOHOL CLEANER BEFORE THE NEXT COAT
8. LEATHER FINISH - This product restores the 'factory style' finish to the layer of colourant. It should reduce the 'tack'. Many finishes can be achieved with the kit. The gloss and matt bottles are mixed for the desired finish, crosslinker eco is used to start the hardening process. Most car interiors come in a 'semi-gloss' finish, this is what i went for. 25% gloss and 75% matt.
So thats pretty much it Team. This is not a crazy difficult process, however it is very time, labor and patience orientated. Read the instructions on the back of the can, take your time, and definitely practice/try products in an inconspicuous area before committing.
I guess what everyone is wanting to see, the final pictures. Enjoy guys. Any questions just shout!