How to Repair Damaged Leather

Written by marion sipe
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How to Repair Damaged Leather
Leather is a popular material, but it needs a certain amount of care. (schöne frau image by Jörg Jahn from Fotolia.com)

It’s almost painful to see your leather items damaged, whether it’s a scuff on your favourite leather jacket or a cat scratch on your living room couch. However, you can repair most minor damage yourself with the aid of a variety of leather repair kits out there. The manufacturers of these kits can even help you find a good match for your leather’s colour, which is critical to making the repair invisible. Many manufacturers offer colour charts on their websites, but don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer and ask for assistance before you commit to a product.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 600 grit sandpaper
  • Clean damp cloth (lint free)
  • Leather cleaner
  • Leather prep
  • Leather filler
  • Leather glue
  • Leather scratch repair

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Clean the damaged portion of the leather. Some kits come with leather cleaner and some don’t, but even if you have to buy it separately, this is an important step. Any dust, hair or stray bits of abraded leather will make for a messy repair. Spray on the leather cleaner, use a soft cloth to work the cleaner into the leather and then allow it to dry.

  2. 2

    Apply a leather prep solution to your damaged area. These sometimes come in a given kit and sometimes don’t, but leather prep creates a surface that the other products can stick to, giving you a longer lasting repair. There are liquid and aerosol types of leather prep and either is fine. Spray on the leather prep and smooth it over the area with a soft cloth, then allow it to dry.

  3. 3

    Use leather glue to secure any freely moving flaps in the damaged section. You should also apply glue if the damage feels puffy or is pulling away from the backing beneath it. Press it down flat and then apply the glue over the top of it to hold it in the flat position. The glue will act like a patch, pulling the sides of a small hole toward one another and keeping them from rolling under. Wipe off any excess with a damp cloth and let the glue dry before continuing.

  4. 4

    Gently sand the glued damage to smooth out any rough glue spots. A fine-grit sandpaper around 600 grit does the job.

  5. 5

    Apply leather filler if the damaged area is not even with the undamaged leather. If you can rub your finger over it and tell the difference between the two, use the filler. Apply it with a fingertip, lightly spreading it over the damaged area. Wipe away excess with a damp cloth and allow the filler to dry. Filler may require more than one application to get the best results.

  6. 6

    Sand the damaged area again, to make sure the filler has created a smooth surface.

  7. 7

    Dab on a bit of the scratch repair using a fingertip. Scratch repair is the final product and should be colour-matched to your leather. It may be a little darker or lighter before it has dried, and you may need two or three applications to get the best results, with drying in between each application.

Tips and warnings

  • You can find leather glue at most craft shops.
  • To speed drying of the products use a hairdryer on a low setting, but don’t get it too close to the leather.
  • For protection against further damage, consider using a leather conditioner on your leather items.
  • If you use aerosol leather prep, do so in a well-ventilated area.

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