How to Repair Leather

Simple, DIY fix for tears and holes

Learn how to use inexpensive, DIY-friendly repair kits to fix small tears in leather or vinyl car seats and chairs before they get big and ugly.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to use a leather/vinyl repair kit

If you walk around with tools in your pockets, don’t be surprised if you tear a hole in your car seat, sofa or easy chair. If a perfect repair is important, call a pro to fix it (about $150). But if you just want to prevent further tearing, you can fix it yourself with a leather/vinyl repair kit. The kit is inexpensive, and the repair takes only an hour. But don’t expect perfection. You’ll still see the tear, and you probably won’t get a perfect color match. However, this fix will contain the tear and look better than a gaping hole.

Buy a kit at any hardware store, home center or auto parts store (one choice is the 3M 08579 Leather and Vinyl Repair Kit, available through our affiliation with Amazon.com). Follow the cleaning instructions in the kit and trim the damaged area to remove any frayed edges. Then cut the backing fabric so it extends under the tear by at least 1/2 in. Glue it in place (Photo 1) and let it dry for the recommended time.

Then mix the heat-set colored filler. This is the hardest and most frustrating part of the repair. But take your time and get as close to the color as you can. Apply just enough colorant to fill in the tear. Then cover it with the textured mat and apply heat (Photo 2). Let it cool and remove the mat (Photo 3).

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Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Leather/vinyl repair kit