22 July 2010

Brooks Saddle Bummer

latex paint on a Brooks saddle
Someone was working in the shed where I keep my bike and accidentally got latex paint on the saddle. Such a bummer!

I've been doing my research about how to get it off, and have a few ideas to try, but I'm wondering if anyone else out there has experience with this to share?

How do you get latex paint off of a Brooks saddle?

23 comments:

James Stollenwerck said...

First, try WD-40. It's fish oil based, and known for it's cleaning as well as lubricating properties.

If that doesn't work, use a small amount of lighter fluid on a rag.

In either case, when done redress the saddle with whatever you used in the past to keep it in shape.

Xue said...

I audibly gasped when the picture loaded... Wow, how on earth did that happen? I've gotten small paint streaks on my saddle before from it rubbing against a wall, but nothing as extensive as that. Scraping gently with a fingernail and then buffing the leather back down with Obenauf's worked for me.

Anonymous said...

If your saddle is well conditioned, you might want to start by rubbing it with conditioner and cloth to see how much of the paint you can remove mechanically before resorting to a chemical remover. Riding the saddle will also stretch the paint a little and make it flake off...ride around with some newer Levi's in the heat!!!
Goof Off is a ethylene acetate/acetone mixture that works well on synthetics to remove latex paint from just about anything, but it will definitely dry out your leather some and may discolor it. (If you want to give it a try, give it a test on the underside of your saddle first) and make sure if you use it to condition your leather afterward. No matter what, baby it as much as possible, using the absolute least amount of anything with lots of elbow grease.

Sara Dokinchan said...

ok, this is going to sound really lame, but did you try something like rubbing it with an (soft art) eraser? I'm not a moron, I know it's acrylic, but in my art school days, when I used the stuff, sometimes if it hadn't bonded with the surface, you could kind of rub it off. I've never tried leather, but I thought I would put it out there.

matt said...

I agree with anonymous. Before using any chemical based cleaners, I would condition it, ride, condition, ride, etc. for a while. From reading your blog so long I would imagine you've kept it conditioned, and I don't think the late paint will be able to adhere that well if it's been conditioned. And will likely release after a bit of riding and additional conditioning.

I've scraped my brooks saddle a few times and I've been impressed at how it's healed after repeated conditionings and ridings.

Good luck!

Charlotte said...

Anonymous and matt,
The saddle has been decently conditioned, but unfortunately when I ride this bike it's in my work clothes, and I really don't want to use them as my paint-removal tool.

I'm contemplating a fabric sack of sorts to try to buff the paint off, but my initial attempts with a fingernail make me think this is going to need something more than that. The paint is pretty well integrated into the leather.

Charlotte said...

Sara, this paint is pretty well bonded, unfortunately. Otherwise I like the plan, thank you!

James, the WD-40 may be just the ticket! Sparingly applied I think it would work and might 'lift' the paint right off.

Xue, this person was painting other things, I think the paint brush hit my bike several times as he went in and out of the shed. Sigh.

Velouria said...

Wow, I am so sorry. Off-hand, I cannot think of a chemical that will both remove the latex paint and will not discolour the leather, but I will keep thinking.

PS: Does this not mean that the person who did this owes you a new saddle? Seems to be kind of a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlotte, Buy the smallest possible bottle of grain alcohol (probably a pint). Ethanol & q-tips or a soft rag are much less harsh than chemical removers. - Mark T.

Charlotte said...

Mark T,

ETHANOL! That's brilliant! That's related to my husband's work, so we have a bottle of lab-grade ethanol under the kitchen sink. Thank you!

Veloria, It's true, and the person responsible has told me that he will replace it if we can't get the paint off. I'm hoping we can fix it, I've gotten this Brooks saddle perfectly broken in, and that's worth a lot!

somervillain said...

ethanol might remove it, but might not. ethanol might also partially remove the black dye, leaving a permanent blemish. i would try various oils first, such as neatsfoot oil, or brooks proofide.

the paint might also fade and wear away with time...

good luck!

cycler said...

I would be cautious about using an alcohol, as many industrial dyes use an alcohol solvent, and you don't want to dissolve the dyle
There's also a product called "lift off" that I've seen at Home Depot made just for latex paint It claims to be water soluble, (which doesn't mean it isn't alcohol based since they're miscable.

You might try to contact Brooks to see if they're any help. They might at least be able to tell you the solvent for the dyes they use so that you could avoid using the same solvent for the cleaning. Definitely a bummer

Charlotte said...

hrm, the paint might wear away, but onto my clothes.

Perhaps contact Brooks would be the best bet. Other people have had this issue (based on that link I found).

Velouria said...

I think contacting Brooks is a good idea. I agree with the caveats about Ethanol, and oil is not likely to have any affect on latex paint (which is not oil-based). Good luck Charlotte, and if you do contact Brooks please let us know what their suggestion is.

Teeejj said...

I'd get a dremel with a really light sanding sponge. Go over it with light pressure. Once all of the paint is off (or most of it) switch over to a polishing tip with proofide. Should come out like a charm.
Tj Seningen-
Trophy Bikes Philadelphia

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I Googled the problem and most the remedies were with the already mentioned alcohol, although one did say hair spray but I think that was for the alcohol content in hair spray. I think in time the seat of your pants will remove most of it, then pick away at the rest. Thank goodness it wasn't a bucket of paint!

Charlotte said...

Well, similar perhaps to Teeejj's dremel, I got really frustrated and went for a session of spit and fingernails which was somewhat effective.

I contacted Brooks 1PM our time, I think they might have been wrapping things up over there. Cycler suggested that perhaps Harris' Brooks rep might know better who to talk to. I just used the generic address on the website.

Veloria, I think the olive oil suggestion is like the proofride suggestion - swell the leather and cause the paint to "pop" off. I still have the clothes issue but at least it's safe!

The fingernail solution got some offending paint off, but my saddle looks like it had a really bad itch. Time and proofride should hopefully fix that part. Still have more paint to go though.

Charlotte said...

I heard back from Brooks, there was some confusion about my goals, but indeed I don't want paint on my clothes or my saddle!

I also got the following link sent in, it might be helpful:
How to remove latex paint from leather, specifically the final tips:


How much grip the latex has depends on the porosity of the leather; perhaps 80 percent of furniture leather has a smooth, acrylic-painted finish that is not very porous. Clothing and finer furniture are often made from analine leathers, which are far more porous and difficult to clean.

Do not use razors or box cutters to scrape away the paint. Do not use products that claim to be "good for leather or vinyl;" they are effective for vinyl but generally too harsh for leather. Do not use elbow grease to remove the paint. This will remove color from the leather or remove its upper surface. Do not use soap, which will introduce detergents into the leather.

Charlotte said...

I heard back from Brooks.

They endorse trying ethanol, they discouraged the use of WD40, and they have no idea what solvent is used in their dyes.

They suggested I could always just purchase another Brooks! :)

I went ahead with the ethanol, very lightly. The paint is essentially removed, and a bit of the dye too. There seems to be plenty of dye so I expect the current blotchiness to fade with a bit of proofride and use. However, it is acceptable as is, so I'm happy.

dr2chase said...

Might get a saddle cover, to ward off future problems. Velo-orange sells some nice ones, they do a reasonable (not perfect) job of repelling rain, and it also can be used to hide your saddle when you park the bike in a not-so-good place.

Charlotte said...

DrChase, I have a Brooks saddle cover, and I find that it's only good in the rain. It says BROOKS across it, making it seem like a "steal me" sign, and because it doesn't fit this model Brooks perfectly I find that I prefer to ride on a plastic grocery sack.
I doubt I would have normally had either of these options deployed for a random summer afternoon, getting painted was just bad luck.

But then I'm the kind of girl who doesn't keep a protective cover on her cell phone either.

Dave Cooper said...

My vote is for white vinegar, then light water, then recondition. Good luck!s

Anonymous said...

take a ride down to the corner shoe shine stand and have the paint removed and the saddle conditioned. these guys are the real pros...steve