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INTERIOR | STEAMING

Thank you for visiting the LS 101 Installation Skill, Tips, and Tricks section covering the use of steam during your leather interior installation. Here you will an explanation over the advantages of using steam on your interior and how to do so. Please take care any time that you are using steam on your interior as improper use could damage your interior.


Steaming the inside of the upholstery
Steaming the inside of the upholstery

The success of an upholstery installer is directly related to their experience, knowledge, and tools. Here we will be discussing one of the professional upholsterers secret weapons: steam. Steaming is an indispensable tool in both restoring broken down or compressed foam as well as helping to heat your new upholstery kit without drying out the leather. Steam can make foam plump back up and restore it's factory shape that is lost over time with use and the effects upholstery shrinking.  Steam can also make leather and vinyl like "butter" (malleable) and affects the installation results quite dramatically. However, it is important to note that the heat from the steam can damage an interior if used improperly.  So make sure that if you decide to use steam on your interior, that you do so sparingly as you learn how to use it effectively. This article will cover both steaming the foam before installation and steaming the new upholstery as you are installing it. There are also several videos that we have made which show this process and they will be linked below.


FOAM | STEAMING

Steaming the seat foam can make a huge difference in the overall fit and finish of your new interior. Most of our interior patterns are based off the original seats in brand, new condition. However, many interiors are not in brand, new condition by the time they are being reupholstered and even the application of the original upholstery at the factory can compress the foam.  So it is always a good idea to steam the foam before reupholstering your seats.

Take a look at the pictures to the right to see how much steaming the foam can improve the shape of the foam and return it closer to showroom condition.  Steaming the foam will also add new life to the seats so that some of the density and spring within the cushion is restored.

Steaming the Foam Before (Left) vs. After (Right)
Steaming the Foam Before (Left) vs. After (Right)
Steaming Foam Before (Right) vs. After (Left)
Steaming Foam Before (Right) vs. After (Left)

UPHOLSTERY | STEAMING

Steaming the foam might seem a bit more obvious once you understand the concept, but steaming the upholstery is actually the most effective "trick" used in the upholstery trade to get great fitment with leather and vinyl interiors.  Steam is unique in that it applies a "wet heat".  Most of the time the application of heat to anything will dry out that substance.  This is the key as to why steam is so effective in working with leather and vinyl.  Both leather and vinyl will relax and become much more malleable with the application of heat.  However, leather is very susceptible to drying out if heat is applied directly.  Vinyl is just less susceptible to heat, but if enough heat is applied then the vinyl could melt.  This is why steam is the key.  It applies a "wet heat" which allows both the vinyl and leather to heat up to a temperature that makes them easier to manipulate without having them dry out or melt so quickly.  However, the heat from the steam can still dry out the leather or damage the vinyl if left in the same spot too long.  

So, it is very important to make sure to apply the steam to the inside of the upholstery so that it is not directly against the leather and to keep the steam moving around inside the cover.  This will heat the upholstery evenly and at the same time keep the steam from damaging and specific parts of the upholstery.  After you steam the upholstery, it will become extremely malleable and much easier to adjust and place properly to help accomplish a wrinkle free install.

Upholstery Installed without Steam (Left) vs. with Steam (Right)
Upholstery Installed without Steam (Left) vs. with Steam (Right)
Upholstery Installed without Steam (Right) vs. with Steam (Left)
Upholstery Installed without Steam (Right) vs. with Steam (Left)