Do-It-Yourself Leather Repair: Instructions & Videos
Minor damage on genuine leather (not synthetics) can be easily repaired with sandpaper and super glue! This leather furniture repair method is exceptional for cat scratch damage! The results are better than those of many retail repair kits and are also less expensive. We developed this method over 30 years ago as Vinyl Ladies (professional leather and vinyl repair artisans) in the auto, RV, and aviation industries of Southern California.
Larger holes and tears should be repaired using a flexible repair compound similar to that used for vinyl repair. Click here to learn more. Be sure to check out our Get Started page to determine what method is best for your project!
Damage on any synthetic or holes and larger areas of damage on genuine leather should be repaired with a flexible heat-curing compound. Be sure to check out our Get Started page to determine what method is best for your project!
We recommend FC-1 Soft Filler, which is water-based, non-toxic, easy to apply, cures with low heat (incandescent bulb or sunshine), and is also sandable. Rub 'n Restore® products adhere well to this compound.
Zoom ahead to minute 3:50 to see the FC1 Soft Filler demonstration and skip the subpatch process which is only required for holes and tears. Minute 7:40 shows the texturizing process.
If your surface is peeling or flaking, it could be caused by one of two things:
1) Your leather is a composite (also called bonded leather or renewed leather) made from scrap leather and mixed with man-made materials.
Composites have a faux leather coating that is notorious for peeling or flaking, exposing a fabric substrate. Repairing and dyeing an unstable surface is likely to suffer the same fate and is often not worth the labor and money. Reupholstery or replacement is recommended.
Real leather or heavy-duty vinyls will never behave in this way, so try to find structurally-sound pieces on Craiglist and then use Rub 'n Restore® products to dye them the color you want.
More info in our "Bonded Leather Blues" blog post.
2) Your surface was previously painted. You will notice that the original grain of the leather or vinyl remains, and it won't absorb water like a woven fabric.
Before dyeing, you need to remove as much of the unstable coating as possible. Solvent-based coatings often flake away over time. Elastomeric coatings will tend to crack and then peel.
Gently sand with 220 or 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper until the surface feels smooth. You can also work with an old Scotch Brite pad and a multipurpose cleaner. Solvents like denatured alcohol or paint thinner can also be used, but beware! Solvents may etch the paint, turning it into a gooey mess without completely removing it, so test the solvent first in an inconspicuous area and see how well it works.
Once you can no longer feel the difference between the original surface and the painted areas, Rub 'n Restore® products can be used. If the piece is thoroughly prepped, our dye will properly penetrate and bond. Color changes will require some touch-up on high-wear areas, but Rub 'n Restore® will never peel or flake.