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Car Care & Detailing
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:14 AM   #1
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Unfinished vs. Finished leather

Prior to 1980 most automotive leather upholstery used was high quality top grain full grain leather with a pigmented solvent-based Nitrocellulose lacquer coating and their unstable plasticizers would easily migrate in the heat from sun exposure and again create 'fogging' on the internal surfaces of the windows.

As a result of this plasticizer migration the use of oil-based products that contained solvents to keep them from becoming brittle and cracking, creams, waxes and oils were needed in aftercare products to try and bring the suppleness back into the leather

By applying an oil-based conditioner and allowing time for it to work in a heated environment. By covering the seats with a plastic bag to help retain the heat and them leave overnight will ensure the oils permeate the lacquer and reach the leather hide.

This process can also be used for equestrian tack; bridles, harnesses’, saddle and leather chaps and riding boots

Automotive leather and finished leather surfaces have undergone major technological improvements over the past few decades. The leather used for automotive upholstery is finished leather; the ‘finish’ applied to the leather hide is a pigmented (colour) urethane protective layer and a clear abrasion resistant topcoat.

Unfinished vs. Finished leather

a) Unfinished leather - the appeal of this type of leather is its initial "natural" look and the soft, supple texture. The downside is aesthetic vulnerability; due to the porous nature of untreated leather, it stains easily and it is sensitive to ultra violet (UV) light, which means that the colour is subject to photochemical degradation (bleaching, (fading), discoloration, chalking, brittleness and cracking) all indications of UV deterioration. The porous nature of unfinished leather will allow a water- or oil-based solution to permeate the leather.

b) Finished or micro pigmented leather - is commonly used for automobile as these resins create a film that protects the leather. The water-based urethane pigmented (colour) coat and the clear topcoat provides abrasion and stain resistance.

This type of leather finish is the most durable and easiest to care for but tends to be stiffer than both unfinished and micro pigmented leather. When Ford first introduced its King Ranch leather in their F-Series trucks it had unfinished leather, later they adopted a micro pigment type finish

Using advanced micro pigments this finishing technique makes the finish rigorous enough to stand up to the conditions it would be subjected to in an automobile. Generally speaking micro pigment style leathers come in very earthy natural colours, incorporating a small quantity of pigment (a thin clear sealant that provides a uniform colour and affords some protection) but not so much as to conceal the natural characteristics of the hide so it will still retain the soft hand of Aniline leather. This type of leather is also used for perforated leather finishes
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