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
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How to use a leather repair kit
Photo 1: Glue in the reinforcement fabric
Use a leather repair kit and tuck the backing under the damaged area to form a patch. Then apply adhesive around the edges and the middle. Let it dry before adding colorant.
Photo 2: Cure the patch with heat
Touch the heating tool (included with the kit) to the face of a hot clothes iron. Then press the hot tool onto the textured mat and hold it in place.
Photo 3: Check out the results
The patch won’t be a perfect leather chair repair. But it sure beats the look of a tear or burn.
If you walk around with tools in your pockets, don’t be surprised if you tear a hole in your leather car seat, sofa or easy chair. If a perfect leather chair 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 leather repair kit is inexpensive, and a leather chair repair takes only an hour. But don’t expect perfection when you try to fix a leather car seat. You’ll still see the tear after the leather seat repair, 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 leather repair kit at any hardware store, home center or auto parts store (one choice is the 3M Leather and Vinyl Repair Kit). 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).
Required Materials for this Leather Repair Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time for leather repair. Here’s a list.