Ok, So it's been a long time since my wife has been able to say those 4 words that every man 'loves' to hear..."I told you so".
For those of you who haven't been to our house, we have a pretty nice leather sofa, that we've had for 10+ years, it was a nice light tan when we purchased it, but over the years it seems that the oils from peoples hair has caused dark spots to appear on the back cushions. We tried cleaning it with several different leather cleaners, but nothing we tried worked, and it seemed to be getting worse.
I've worked with leather a little bit, (I mean, I did get my leather working merit badge when I was in scouts) and I was looking at the sofa one day and had a small epiphany, why not stain the couch the same color as the dark spots on the cushions.
It was a GREAT idea, Save the couch, revitalize the color scheme in the living room, and make my wife happy all at the same time, and if I did my research, and took the proper precautions, what could go wrong?
So, I got online and looked up the address for the nearest Tandy Leather company, (luckily for me they were just a few miles away) I jumped in the car and went down to talk with them and see if this was something that was feasible. They were very helpful, and assured me that it shouldn't be a problem, and showed me what products I would need, and the options I had for different shades of stain.
One of the options was a little aerosol unit for about $10.00, they told me it would make the stain go farther and would make application allot easier, you just poured the stain in a small bottle on the bottom, and like magic you had you own personal stain sprayer, for $10.00 it seemed like a bargain.
I realized that with a spray there would most likely be some over spray, so I went to Walmart and got a 10 x 20 foot plastic sheet that painters use to put under the sofa and protect the carpet from any possible spills, and over spray, I also picked up some latex gloves to protect my hands, I was all set.
I started with the cushions, and they went pretty quick, it probably took me about 1/2 an hour to do all 3, and then I started on the sofa itself. I had been kneeling on the plastic and realized that the over spray was settling on the plastic (as intended) but I was getting it on my pants as I crawled around on the plastic (not great, but if I lost a pair of older jeans, to the project it was an acceptable loss, sometimes there is collateral damage)
I had purchased 1 quart of Dark Brown stain, and one aerosol unit and realized at this point that it wasn't going to be enough. and I would need at least one more quart to finish the couch, so I thought this would be a good time to take a break and run down to the leather store to pick up another quart of Stain.
(This is where I should have started to get really concerned) I pulled off the latex gloves, and discovered that they hadn't protected my hands nearly as much as one would have thought, in fact my hands were pretty much stained bright orange, I also noticed that the blow back from the spray had stained my arms a nice light orange...almost like a spray on Tan. "Hmmm", I thought, "I'm starting to look like an Umpa Loompa from Charley and the Chocolate Factory, I'm going to need to put on an old long sleeved shirt, when I get back and maybe a painters mask" I also noticed when I looked in the rear view mirror that there were some orange stains under my nose and on my lip where I must have rubbed my nose with my finger..."That's not good" I thought "People are going to wonder at church tomorrow why an Umpa Lumpa is teaching the Gospel Doctrine Class?"
I arrived at the leather store and Nancy the lady I had been working with asked how things were going, and commented on my new tan. I told her the sofa was looking good but I was going to need another quart of stain to finish and possible another two spray units. She went back to get the stain, and of course they were out. "Ok, This isn't good" I knew a half stained couch and husband wasn't going to work for Randie. Nancy pulled out the catalog and we looked at what other stains they had, I told her that a darker stain would probably work, and i could just quickly go over the area's I'd previously stained. Luckily they had one that was darker, I got two quarts this time, and Nancy assured me that I could bring one back if i didn't use it, and I also got two new sprayers.
The new stain worked great, and I actually liked the color better than before, I went over the cushions again, and finished the rest of the couch. Including the trip to the store, and everything it took me about 4 hrs to finish, but it was worth it, the couch looked fantastic. I just needed to clean everything up before Randie got home from work, so she could walk in and see her new couch.
I moved the couch and pulled up all the plastic, and re situated everything in the living room...it looked really good. I had been using the kitchen table kind of as my work bench, and All the stain and rag's etc were on the table (don't worry the top is covered with glass) So I cleaned all that up and then got a clean wet rag to wipe off the table top so it would be nice and clean.
This is where things started to go downhill...I've worked with spray paint over spray before, usually the over spray (all the microscopic paint particles that are atomized by the aerosol) dries before it lands, and leaves a fine dust that you can just wipe up or vacuum up) Stain over spray...TOTALLY Different.
It seems that when stain particles become air born, and land on an object, even though they might be dry, they still maintain their staining capabilities. As I wiped the table the water in the rag REACTIVATED the stain (thank goodness the table was covered with glass) when I looked at the rag it was completely dark orange. and you couldn't even see the stain particles on the table...HUGE WARNING BELLS started ringing in my head, If there was this much over spray on the table, how much was there everywhere else?
As it turns out, it was throughout the whole main level...and it had settled on any Flat surface (thank goodness it didn't stick to the walls) Luckily for me, our kitchen floor and counter tops are all Dark Brown Tile, so no worries there, and all of our wood furniture is pine, so even with a little staining, it just enhanced the pine look.
To Stain an old couch and make it look new: $75 Dollars
To Stain the Carpet along with the Couch and get NEW Carpet: $1000.00 Dollars
To Hear those 4 words "I told you So": Priceless
Yes I had plastic down, but if you remember earlier the Latex gloves didn't seem to do much to stop the stain...so it would seem held true with the plastic. When I tried to clean the carpet we had nice Splotches and Streaks of browns and oranges...it looked like someone threw several pots of coffee all over the carpet, and then tried to wipe it up.
I guess your never to old to learn...some lessons are just more painful than others.
I have to say in closing that Randie was great throughout the whole thing... she only mentioned once "I told you so", (and when I originally proposed the idea, she did say that I should take it out in the Garage... I of course told her I would be extremely careful, and she had nothing to worry about.)
but to be fair she did get a new looking couch AND new Carpet... So I don't think she's too upset about the whole thing... I'll just get to hear her tell this story for several years to come :-)