Applying Finish to Leather
Choose your Finish
Adding a leather topcoat is essential for more vibrant color and to seal your leather. Tandy has a wide variety of products to add a finish to your projects. These products can be used in different ways to achieve your desired effect. It is important to think about how your finished product will look when choosing a finish. You can use these products as a water-resistant topcoat, as a resist before using an antique finish, to highlight your leather, preserve your leather goods, and more. We have high-gloss, satin, and matte finish options. Always test on a scrap piece of leather first. It is always a good idea to buff your leather before applying a topcoat; this will remove any surface debris before applying finish on your leather. Make sure that your project is completely dry. If you are working outdoors, keep your project out of direct sunlight and extreme heat. When applying finishes be sure to cover your workspace and wear gloves. We used plastic sheeting under our paper to protect our work surface. If you are using an acrylic-based finish, be sure to be in a well-ventilated area. For this demonstration, we are using Eco-Flo® Super Shene as a topcoat for our dyed leather.
Choose your applicator
While we offer many different applicators to apply finish to leather, we are going to show you four common ways to add finish. You can use these methods on their own or combine then to achieve your desired outcome.
Applying finish with a Paintbrush
Apply a thin layer of finish left to right, then up and down, and in circular motions to ensure even coating. Let the first coat dry thoroughly and repeat with additional coats if needed. Pro Tip: Paintbrushes are great for edges or small areas, may leave brush strokes on large areas. Use a hair dryer on low heat to pop any bubbles you may create when applying finish.
Applying finish with a wool dauber
Wool daubers are easy to use when applying finish to small or large areas. Apply the first layer left to right, the second up and down, then in circular motions to ensure even coating. This application works best when using finish as a resist for tooled leather.
Applying finish with a sponge
Sponges are a highly effective way of applying finish to a large area quickly and evenly. This method generally gives you an even coat with fewer applications. Apply the first layer left to right, the second up and down. Then apply again in a circular motion for an even look. Let the first coat dry thoroughly. This method is very effective when using a finish as a resist for carved leather.
Applying finish with paper towels
This method allows you to apply finish in thin even coats. Apply the first layer left to right, the second up and down. Then apply again in a circular motion for an even look. Let the first coat dry thoroughly. Allow coats to thoroughly dry before applying another layer of finish.
Take time to try different techniques to find what works best for you. And remember, anything you do requires practice! Here are a few recommended books to help you on your leatherwork journey.
Coloring Leather Book by Al Stohlman
ABC's of Leatherwork