So you say it looks too easy, too good to be true, that one can just slop it on with a sponge and get miraculous results?
It is that easy!
We've worked with it in this way for over 25 years.
Please familiarize yourself with these instructions and our FAQs to make Rub 'n Restore™ a goof-proof experience. You can also read about mixing your own color or glaze, replicating the "distressed" look, spray instructions, working around brass nails, as well as shelf-life of the products.
Please click here to view or print these instructions in a brochure format.
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.
Wipe the surface with a household cleaner like 409 or Greenworks to remove loose dirt. 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. 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.
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 satin finish. More layers will create a shinier semi-gloss finish.
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.
All Rub 'n Restore™ products are compatible with each other. This means you mix colors together to create your own, or you can dilute colors with Clear Prep+Finish™ to make a more transparent glaze. We recommend a glaze for aniline leather or vinyls that have a multi-toned or “distressed” appearance. Rub 'n Restore™ Colors will obscure these varied tones, resulting in a monotone appearance. Making a glaze will allow you to deposit color and darken the surface without completely obscuring the “distressed” look.
You can mix products together in a glass bowl and then re-bottle them. You can also mix them directly on your sponge, i.e. one squirt of color plus one squirt of Clear Prep+Finish™. Experiment to see what ratio of is the best for your project. Make a note what your exact ratio or mix-on-the-sponge protocol is so you can replicate the results in the future.
If a glaze still resulted in a monotone appearance, you can try to recreate the look of multi-toned vinyls or aniline leather by rag-rolling or sponge-painting over 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 the color and filter it 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. Unlike sponge application, you can immediately follow with the Clear Prep+Finish™. Rub 'n Restore™ is 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 25 years, successfully applied 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.
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.