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Dye & Recolor

The Most Versatile Leather & Vinyl Dye You Will Ever Use


You're thinking it's too good to be true, that:


                • it can be easily applied with a sponge
                  • you can transform or restore your furniture
                • it won't rub off on your clothing
                  • it won't peel off or fade


It's the truth! But don't believe us. Check out the customer testimonials.


Each order comes with an instructional brochure.

Please familiarize yourself with the process to make Rub 'n Restore a goof-proof experience.

To download or view the brochure, please click here.




Rub ‘n Restore™ products are water-based and go on easily with a sponge.














Many other topics are also addressed in our FAQs.




1. Set up your work area.

Ideal working temperatures are between 65º – 80º F (18º – 26º C). Use drop cloths and blue painter's tape to protect areas you do not want the product to get on. Keep rags with spray bottles of water and cleaner available for cleanup during the application process. Avoid spilling Rub 'n Restore on carpets and fabrics. If you do, immediately flush the area with water and cleaner and use rags to absorb the liquid.


2. Clean and prep your piece.

Clean the surface with a multipurpose cleaner (we recommend Flite). Non-aniline and non-nubuck surfaces that feel greasy (such that masking tape will not stick) or have been treated with ArmorAll or similar products must be stripped, as these products contain silicone, wax, or petroleum and inhibit the adhesion of Rub 'n Restore. You can use a green dish scrubby and cleaner to scrub the surface. You can also use mineral spirits or lacquer thinner (NOT acetone). Test both these methods first in an inconspicuous area to ensure they won't damage the material. Scaly or flaking leather will feel as bad as it looks and needs to be gently sanded and primed with Clear Prep+Finish™ before applying Rub 'n Restore™ colors.When using lacquer thinner, ventilate the room and wear a heavy-duty glove. Wipe the surface in smooth, quick strokes. Follow again with the household cleaner.

If the surface feels rough or scaly (like the photo on right), gently sand with a piece of 220 or 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper until it feels smooth. For a surface like this, that is dry, porous or sun-rotted, Clear Prep+Finish is recommended as a primer. This ensures that less Rub 'n Restore Color is needed to achieve coverage.


3. Thoroughly stir Rub 'n Restore Color until it feels smooth and milky.

Separation is normal. The heavier tints tend to settle to the bottom. Stirring is preferred to vigorous shaking, as the product can foam and will leave tiny bubbles and spots on your surface. Clear Prep+Finish does not require stirring. Save the pressure seal in case you need to return or exchange the product, as it will prevent leakage during shipment.


4. Wear the disposable gloves (included) and test Rub 'n Restore Color in an inconspicuous area.

Allow it to completely dry, as the color will darken.


5. Dampen a cellulose sponge so that it doesn't drip water when squeezed.

Avoid sponge brushes or those with green nylon backing. A paintbrush is also recommended to work around tight areas where precision is needed.


6. Pour a small amount of Rub 'n Restore Color directly onto the surface or your sponge. Spread it evenly, massaging into cracks, wrinkles, and folds.

Periodically moisten your sponge with water, so it is easier to spread the dye. Do not apply in direct sunlight or on a hot surface. These conditions will cause the dye to dry faster than the rate at which you can polish the streaks. This will result in a more uneven appearance and use more Rub 'n Restore Color. If heat is an issue, spritzing water on the surface can lower the temperature and extend the working time of the dye, but too much water will dilute the dye and require more layers to achieve adequate coverage.


7. Allow your first coat of Rub 'n Restore to dry before applying another.

You can use a hair dryer to expedite dry time. If the surface is too hot to touch, allow it to cool before proceeding.


Color changes will require multiple layers of Rub 'n Restore™ to obtain coverage.

8. Repeat steps 6-7 until faded or stained areas are concealed. Ensure that each coat is completely dry before applying another.

One coat will be more transparent and may suffice. More layers provide a darker, richer tone. Dramatic color changes typically require three to six coats. Remember that many thin layers are better than a few thick layers. If any coat of Rub 'n Restore Color is applied too heavily or not allowed to dry, you may notice small “mud cracks” develop. You can remedy this by going over the surface with a sponge dampened with water or Clear Prep+Finish. If your surface has a multi-toned or “distressed” appearance that you wish to preserve, we recommend mixing your own glaze (directions below).


9. To deepen the color, create more shine, and add another layer of protection, follow with the optional Clear Prep+Finish.

For best results, apply the Clear Prep+Finish a couple days later, after the color has cured. Clear Prep+Finish can be applied immediately if a detail or spray gun is being used. A single thin layer will have a semi-gloss finish. More layers will create a high shine.


10. Use your rags and cleaner to promptly remove any Rub 'n Restore from your hair dryer and other unwanted areas.

Rub 'n Restore Color will be dry in minutes and is ready for use. It will not rub off on clothing. It cures to its full strength in about 48-72 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity. During that time, avoid getting it wet, as water may reactivate the dye. Over time it may show wear, as the original leather or vinyl did. Simply reapply. Store any leftover Rub 'n Restore Color in a cool, dark place, and thoroughly stir before using again.



Please click here to learn how to repair your own. 


If you have applied many layers of dye and are not getting sufficient coverage, and you're dyeing a red or dark color to a light/white, or you're working with a synthetic (i.e. bonded leather or vinyl), apply a coat of Clear Prep+Finish™ between every 3-4 layers of dye. You can apply the Clear as soon as the color is dry. Make sure your sponge has the optimum moisture level, not too wet or too dry. A layer of Clear Prep+Finish™ will seal the dye and add strength. Subsequent layers of color will get better coverage with less coats.


Start with small amounts in case you don't like the result. Take notes, so you can replicate the formula. Mix in a glass bowl. Test your color in an inconspicuous spot and allow to dry. Experiment until you get the desired color. Re-bottle the color and wash your glass bowl immediately.


If you wish to preserve the multi-toned appearance of the material or if you're working with aniline, we recommend mixing a glaze by diluting Rub 'n Restore™ Color with Clear Prep+Finish™. A glaze is more transparent, and will allow you to deposit color without completely obscuring the “distressed” look. You can mix the glaze directly on your sponge, i.e. one squirt of color plus one squirt of Clear Prep+Finish™. More Clear will be more transparent; more Color will get better coverage and be more monotone. Experiment, and make a note of your ratio and method, so you can replicate the results in the future.

A glaze is also great for blending areas that have been dyed with those that have not. It is also recommended as a topcoat if you want a less-shiny satin finish. 

This video demonstrates working with a glaze and a spray gun.





You can also recreate the “distressed” look by rag-rolling or sponge-painting (patting rather than spreading) the dyed surface with undiluted color. You can also use water, which will have an erasing effect. Be creative!



For faster application or if you're doing a dramatic color change from dark to light, we recommend using some form of spray application. Many customers report great success with Preval sprayers, which are both inexpensive and easy to use, even for a novice. If you've got a compressor and some confidence, you can use a siphon detail gun or gravity spray gun to apply Rub 'n Restore. Spray application uses less volume of dye too!

Thoroughly stir and filter the color to remove any lumps. Spray approximately 6”-8” from the surface, moving in smooth, swift strokes. Avoid puddling in any area, which can create a “fish eye” effect. If you do, spread it around with a sponge, allow to dry, and then re-spray. Allow each coat to dry before applying another. You can immediately follow with the Clear Prep+Finish™. Rub 'n Restore™ products are water-based. Clean your gun with soap and water.



Gently polish the brass nails with super-fine “0000” steel wool before applying Rub 'n Restore™. Use a brush, rag, or sponge to apply the dye, working around the brass nails as best you can. When you have completed the restoration, and the surface is dry, use the steel wool to polish the nails once again. The steel wool should remove the dye from the metal without damaging the newly restored leather/vinyl. Super-fine “0000” steel wool is available at woodworking or hobby stores if your local hardware doesn't have it.



While the manufacturers of our raw materials only guarantee a shelf-life of two years, we have, on numerous occasions in the past 30 years, reconstituted Rub 'n Restore™ Colors and Clear Prep+Finish™ that were more than four years-old. The key is to store the product in a cool, dark place. Reapplying the pressure seal will further extend the shelf-life.

Thoroughly stir all Rub 'n Restore Colors before reuse (Clear Prep+Finish™ does not require stirring). We also recommend filtering both the Clear Prep+Finish™ and Colors through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any lumps that may have coagulated.


Print/Download Rub 'n Restore Instructional Brochure


CAUTION: Keep out of reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Flush eyes with running water for 20 minutes and seek medical attention. Wash skin with soap and water. Harmful if swallowed. Do not induce vomiting. Drink one or two glasses of water and obtain medical attention immediately.

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