How To Repair Any Leather Sofa (Including Peeling Bonded Leather) | 2021

repair a torn leather sofa

Do you have a leather couch or sofa that is a bit worn and showing its age? Or worse yet - up for some serious repairs due to rips, tears, cuts, or cracks?

These repair issues are all quite common in well-loved leather furniture (and almost any other leather product). There is no need to get rid of it just yet though since there are many ways to fix these problems easily at home using a leather repair kit. 

Below, we will take you through the most common leather repair issues you will encounter, as well as an easy 5-step guide on how to fix your favourite leather furniture!

CONTENTS:

  1. Different Types of Damage Will Need Specialised Leather Repair:
  2. Cracks or Cuts in Leather Furniture
  3. Scratches, Rips and Tears in the Upholstery of Leather Furniture
  4. Leather Furniture Peeling (...This Also Applies to Bonded Leather)
  5. Punctures or Holes in Leather Furniture
  6. Worn Out Leather Furniture Surfaces 
  7. How To Repair Any Leather Furniture (Sofa, Couch, Chair, Lounge etc.)
  8. Step One - Determine Your Repair 
  9. Step Two - Clean The Area
  10. Step Three - Complete Your Leather Repair
  11. Step Four - Colour The Leather
  12. Step Five - Apply A Leather Conditioner

Different Types of Damage Will Need Specialised Leather Repair:

Your favourite leather furniture could sustain damage due to many reasons.

While most problems arise due to extended wear and use, other situations like pets or accidents can cause significant scratches or puncture holes in your couch.

The absence of leather conditioner may also mean that your furniture will wear faster and you’ll have to address fixes later with a leather repair kit.

Read on below as we outline the most common leather damage you will come across.

*NOTE: If you're dealing with stains and marks as opposed to leather repair - you should check out our in-depth guide to cleaning leather furniture. As an example - things like pen marks and food stains can often be quickly dealt with by cleaning with mild soap and water with a white cloth.

leather furniture

1.) Cracks or Cuts in Leather Furniture

Leather furniture such as sofas and couches are very porous and can dry out over time.

Cracks will often appear in your leather furniture on spots where contact is frequent, like the armrests. Any oil or dirt on your skin or clothing will absorb into the top layer of the leather furniture, making it abrasive and prone to cracking. 

As I'm sure you know - accidents can also happen, which can be heartbreaking when it comes to expensive leather furniture. A cut in your lounge chair can easily result from dropping a sharp object, or when there’s one in your pocket when you sit down.

The good news is you can rectify most simple cuts and tears with a leather repair kit that typically includes a patch, leather glue, or filler for an easy leather repair job. 


2.) Scratches, Rips and Tears in the Upholstery of Leather Furniture

After some time, it is almost guaranteed that you will need to repair some scratches on your leather sofa material.

Worse than that - sharp teeth or claws from pets can quickly wreak havoc on your leather furniture, leaving you with a torn leather sofa that is unsightly and uncomfortable.

Furthermore, young children can be impulsive and may not think ahead when they climb over your couch with a sharp toy or object, accidentally creating rips. 


3.) Leather Furniture Peeling (...This Also Applies to Bonded Leather)

Constant wear and tear on your leather sofa or couch can cause significant 'peeling'.

If you do not use enough leather conditioner or have harmful solvents for cleaning, the couch could show peeling spots. If you have 'bonded leather' furniture it is also prone to peeling, but can be fixed in much the same way.


4.) Punctures or Holes in Leather Furniture

Unfortunately, small and large holes can quite easily be punctured into leather furniture.

It could be from an excited pet or a set of keys in your pocket as you sit down.

The good news is that these are some of the easiest leather repairs to make.


5.) Worn Out Leather Furniture Surfaces 

With any quality leather furniture, there will be areas of the leather that will break down quicker from wear and tear over time.

Worn out leather surfaces will usually start to show discolouration and develop unsightly spots and uneven textures, but they are easy to repair! 

worn leather sofa

How To Repair Any Leather Furniture (Sofa, Couch, Chair, Lounge etc.)

If you want to repair your leather furniture yourself you've come to the right place - it is a relatively easy process.

You will need to prepare your work area and ensure you have all of the necessary supplies - as well as muster up a little patience for this job. 

The tools you need for leather repair will depend on the type of repair that you are completing.

Some of the necessary products you may need for a leather lounge repair include: 

  • Leather cleaner, white vinegar, or rubbing alcohol
  • Leather glue
  • Leather repair kit
  • Sub patch or a leather patch kit
  • Flexible leather filler kit
  • Sandpaper
  • Leather dye 
  • Leather conditioner
  • Plastic gloves or plastic wrap
  • Needle or toothpick, sponge, lint-free cloth, or paper towel

 

Step One - Determine Your Repair 

Assess the damage to figure out what kind of upholstery repair you need to make, and exactly how you will look to do it. 

Examples:

  • For rips, tears, or cuts - you can use leather glue to minimize them. 
  • For cracked leather sofas or wear & small scratches - a flexible filler can do the trick. 
  • Leather furniture with large holes or tears will require patching. 


Step Two - Clean The Area

Before attempting a leather repair, clean the area that requires the repair.

You will want to ensure that you remove everything, including any buildup of oils or dirt that may be on there.

If you do not have a foam leather cleaner or only have a product that combines a leather cleaner and a leather conditioner, you can stick with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.  

Ensure that the area is clean and dry before attempting any leather repair work.


Step Three - Complete Your Leather Repair

Once you've established what you need to do, read on below to find out how to make the repair:


Cracks, Peeling & Surface Problems

To repair scratches on leather materials or a worn leather sofa with cracking, peeling, or an uneven texture, a flexible soft compound filler is the answer.

To get started - you will want to remove any pieces that are peeling or that are loose from the couch and make sure there are no loose particles on the surface. 

Using an applicator like a putty knife or flat tool, apply the soft, flexible filler to the area that needs repair.

Go slow and easy with the filler. Too much filler on an area can make the section unstable and cause peeling or cracking and need leather repair again later.

Feather the edges lightly where the original leather material meets the filler compound and smooth the compound evenly away from any seams.

Once you cover the area, it will need to cure. You can do this by sitting it in the sun, under a low-heat sun lamp, or with the low setting of a hairdryer. Once it is dry, you will apply a second coat of soft, flexible filler to the area. 

Using a plastic glove or plastic wrap, gently rough the filler’s surface on your couch by touching it slightly to create a texture. After it is dry, you will use 500-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges or uneven sections.

Use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust or residue.


Tears, or Holes

If you have to repair a cut in a leather sofa or have any significant tears to any kind of leather furniture, it will likely require a sub patch. A sub patch is a leather repair patch kit item that will sit underneath the top layer to give the filler a place to bond to.

To repair smaller cuts and tears:

  1. Ensure that the underside of the edges where the cut or hole is are spotless and dry to help the sub patch stay in place. 
  2. For small cut repairs, apply leather glue to the underside of the flap edges. Use applicator tools like a needle and scrape a thin layer underneath the repair section. 
  3. Before it has a chance to dry, fold the edges together to reattach them so you cannot see the material underneath. Wipe away any excess glue and apply pressure while the glue dries. Some types may require low heat from a hairdryer to speed up the process. 

 

If you have large areas that require sub patch repairs, cut a piece slightly larger than the hole itself and follow the directions below:

  1. Use tweezers to help fold and insert the piece into the tear where you need it to stay. Ensure that it is flat with no curled edges and covers the entire repair area. 
  2. Use a needle or a toothpick to apply a thin layer of leather glue to the repair area’s underside where the sub patch will sit.
  3. Stretch any torn edges back together over the sub patch and apply pressure while the glue dries to adhere them together. Use a wooden block or book large enough to cover the entire space to press down evenly and continuously. 
  4. Once the area is completely dry, clean well with vinegar or rubbing alcohol to remove any residue. If there are any loose fibres, strings, or bits of material, cut them away so the area is flush. 

Once you've attached your sub patch to other a small or large hole - apply a thin coat of leather filler to any sections that still have visible damage after patching.

Try to feather the edges where the filler mix meets the original leather to create a seamless transition. Let the area completely dry and check the consistency. If it feels too soft or moves too much, you will have to apply a second leather filler coat. 

 

Step Four - Colour The Leather

Your leather repair work will likely leave some discolouration that will need dealing with if you want your leather couch or sofa back in mint condition.

Fortunately, this is an easy task and many leather repair kits actually come with a preset colourant that you can mix and match for your leather furniture. If not, you can purchase leather colourant from most retailers, or even send a sample of your sofa away to a leather service company for a custom colour solution.

To restore your colour - apply a small amount of colourant to the repair area with a damp sponge. Cover the entire repair area and let dry. You may have to repeat the colour application to blend and match your current furniture hue. 


Step Five - Apply A Leather Conditioner

To ensure you won't be dealing with a cracked leather sofa again anytime soon, the final step in your repair should be a preventative conditioning of your leather furniture.

Applying a high-quality leather conditioner foam will make the leather flexible and soft to the touch, making it much nicer to sit on and reducing the risk of cracking and degradation in the future. 

 

Need A Walkthrough?

If you're more of a visual learner and would benefit from watching complete a leather repair walkthrough - hit play on the quick video below from the crew at Rub'N'Restore for an awesome tutorial!

Final Thoughts 

Quality furniture isn't cheap, but it is an investment that brings comfort and enjoyment for many many years.

When there is damage from wear and tear, cuts or scratches, it's important to address it quickly so your furniture doesn't end up destined for the rubbish heap.

By following the simple methods we've laid out for you in this article, you can make simple repairs that will quickly bring your leather back to top condition.

Don't give up on your favourite furniture, take the time to make a repair and save yourself countless dollars!

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