Paint & Body Repair

Recolouring Vinyl & Fabric

Restore your interior to it's former glory - or change it up

The vinyl and fabric of a great old car can become worn with age – but if the car is worth keeping, it’s worth restoring. Reinvigorating the interior of your pride and joy is as simple as applying the right products the right way.

Should I reupholster or recolour my car seats?

Before deciding to recolour your car’s upholstery you might consider replacing it with fresh material outright. However, depending on the time and money you have to invest in the project, reupholstering your car may be prohibitively expensive. For that reason, many people prefer to simply recolour the existing fabric, and lend it a new lease on life without all the extra cost.

How much does it cost to get car seats reupholstered?

Fully reupholstering a tired interior can cost upwards of $500 per seat, depending upon the material used and the type of seat reupholstered. If the cushions and bolsters are in good condition then a cheaper alternative is to recolour worn seats instead.

Car Seat

How much does it cost to recolour car seats?

Reupholstering car seats can end up being an incredibly expensive endeavour. Luckily recolouring your car seats using vinyl and fabric paints is a far cheaper alternative. The amount it costs will depend upon the size of your seats. You may need a few cans of paint in order to ensure proper paint coverage, as well as a few cans of wax and grease remover and a couple of extra bits and pieces to prepare your seats. All up, however, you will easily be able to achieve a proper recolour with a few hundred dollars at most since the real investment is your time and patience when recolouring your car seats.

Can you paint leather seats?

Interior fabric paints can be used on a wide variety of surfaces - including leather. Leather will often require a more comprehensive cleaning effort before recolouring due to the presence of more wax and grease - since many leather care products contain waxes and oils that can prevent vinyl and fabric paint from adhering properly.

How do I change the color of my dashboard?

If you want to change up the look of your car’s interior then recolouring the dashboard (or parts of it) can really help. Using the same vinyl and fabric paint and some proper preparation, you can achieve professional looking results. You will find that your recolour looks a lot better if you are able to remove the components to be repainted before spraying them, however this can be a considerable amount of work - since removing your dashboard is a lot more involved than removing your seats.

How do I change the colour of my upholstery?

Generally, if you are planning on recolouring your upholstery the two main options (besides an expensive reupholstery job) are to either paint or dye your interior fabric. While only certain kinds of fabric fibers accept dye, most can be painted, although painting upholstery sometimes makes the fabric stiff to the touch. The other major advantage of upholstery paint over dye, is that it can also be used on vinyls and plastics.

Car Seat

Tips and Warnings

  • Ensure your work space has good ventilation and that you’re wearing a face mask, particularly when you’re tending to areas inside the car
  • When prepping your vinyl or fabric, take extra care to ensure it’s clean which may mean using fabric cleaner, steam cleaner or air compressor to get the best results
  • Although Duplicolor paint contains an adhesion promoter, paint does not bond as strongly to older vinyls and fabrics as it does to newer ones. If you are restoring a very old vehicle, we advise also applying an adhesion promoter after the prep spray

Before you Start

It’s important to start with a clean surface because with older cars, comes even more years of dirt. Use a brush and vacuum or air compressor to get every bit of dirt out of your vinyl or fabric surface.

Step 1 - Remove Any Adjustable Panels Or Parts

Preparing interior

Take off parts of the car that can easily be removed like the lower dash cap, door trim panels and dash surrounds. If you are recolouring your seats, then you will often find it easier to paint them outside the car, even if it is a bit of a pain to remove them. The added bonus with putting in the extra effort to remove the parts you want to paint is that doing so will allow you greater access to areas that are otherwise difficult to get to.

Step 2 - Apply Wax And Grease Remover

cleaning car seat

To clean off any of the grease, grime and dirt, shake the wax and grease remover for one minute and apply a light coat in even sweeping motions - then wipe off. You might need to apply several coats - particularly to vinyl and leather, where fabric care products will have added a protective layer to the material that inhibits paint adhesion. For fabric, make sure that you properly vacuum the surface to remove dust and dirt. A steam cleaner may be required for exceptionally dirty fabric.

Step 3 - Apply Vinyl And Fabric Paint

Painting fabric

Use a steady, even sweeping motion to apply the Duplicolor vinyl and fabric paint. Make sure you overlap your spray pattern and apply from both nozzle directions. When you are spraying suede or other cloth fibres, take particular care to angle your spraying pattern in order to get paint into all the fibres.

Painting fabric seat

Follow the recommended instructions on the can, and apply an appropriate number of coats. Painting a lighter colour over darker fabric will often require additional coats in order to prevent the underlying shade from showing through.

Step 4 - Put It All Back Together Again

Putting interior back together

Allow a minimum of 24 hours for your paint to dry, then return any removed parts to the vehicle and your car’s interior will look as good as the day you bought it.

If you have recoloured your seats, then it is also a good idea to give your newly painted interior a light vacuum and clean in order to remove any loose paint dust before you sit in it.