Which Leather Finish Should I Use? (VIDEO)

Taylor Miles
Which Leather Finish Should I Use? (VIDEO)


Have you ever looked at the variety of leather finishes on the market and found yourself unsure about what to use? You are certainly not alone!

We carry three different kinds of Fiebings leather finishes: Tan Kote, Leather Sheen, and Resolene.

All of them are great top coats for your leather, but the one you use will depend on your project!



Tan Kote

tan kote fiebings

Tan Kote is not a permanent finish. It will eventually wear off and need to be reapplied. You’re asking, why would I want a finish that wears away? 

Well, Tan Kote is a permeable finish, meaning it allows liquid through. This means that you can still apply conditioner or oil to the leather, even after applying your finish.

If you are making a project that will need to be waxed or conditioned regularly, this is the finish to use. However, this also means that Tan Kote is not water-resistant. Leather projects that need protection from moisture and sun exposure will need a different finish.

It will give you a soft gloss shine with a little buffing, and still feel and look like natural leather.

It is safe for use over leather dye, antiques, and natural leather (do not use on Suede). Tan Kote can also be mixed into an antique paste that has dried up, extending the life of your product.


Leather Sheen

leather sheen finish 

Leather Sheen is an acrylic, permanent finish. Once it is applied, it is there to stay.

Leather Sheen is water-resistant and non-permeable. Once the sheen is applied, conditioner or wax cannot get through the finish to penetrate the leather.  

Leather sheen has a thinner consistency and can be applied very easily, straight from the bottle with a soft cloth. 

It can be buffed when dry to a soft, mellow shine. It also provides a little bit of conditioning when applied. Sheen also comes in an aerosol spray variety for even easier application.

It is safe for use over leather dye, antiques, and natural leather (do not use on Suede).



resolene fiebings

Resolene is also acrylic and a permanent finish. However, Resolene is not only water-resistant. It also provides UV protection.

Resolene comes in thicker consistency, that should be thinned with water for smoother application. You do not have to thin it first should you prefer to streamline your process. Due to the thickness of the finish, a heavy-handed application can streak leaving an uneven appearance. Once thinned, it can also be applied via airbrush, for a light and even application.

Once dry, you can buff Resolene to help smooth the finish and boost the shine. Resolene has the highest shine of the finishes we carry. 

It is safe for use over leather dye, antiques, and natural leather (do not use on Suede).

Some leather workers prefer not to use Resolene because they feel the acrylic finish doesn’t look or feel natural. But just as many use it as their go to for every project. Truthfully, the finish you use should be the one that works best for you or your customers.

So to summarize:

If you love the natural look and feel of leather, use a conditioner or an oil instead of a finish. If you need a bit more protection, bump up to the Tan Kote. Want a little shine? Use Leather Sheen. Need heavy protection and a glossy finish? Resolene is the one for the job.


This blog isn’t here to tell you what’s right or wrong, just what the options are! There are many other solutions to leather care out there, and we hope this answered a few questions to help you choose the right ones for you!

leather finish comparison

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