How to Use a Leather and Vinyl Plastic Repair Kit

By Kathy Adams

A repair kit for leather and vinyl typically includes several tints to allow you to make your own custom blend to perfectly match the color of the damaged material. While the kits may vary slightly from one brand to another, the directions for each are similar, requiring you to mix colors, apply the liquid repair solution and heat set it so it creates a strong, seamless repair.

Brown sofa on a white background
credit: 3DmasterOK/iStock/Getty Images
Test your mixed, tinted repair solution in an inconspicuous area to ensure a match.

Clean for Consistency

Cleaning the damaged leather or vinyl area is a must before you apply the repair liquid to determine the real color of the material, otherwise you may mix up a batch that matches dirt rather than the actual shade of the damaged item. Use a mild soap on vinyl or leather, or a leather cleaner, wiping the area dry after cleaning. Wipe away any greasy residue with a cotton swab or soft white cloth and a bit of rubbing alcohol.

Fluff with Filler

If you're repairing a hole or tear in the upholstery, press the area near the damage to determine if any of the batting or filling inside is missing. If so, fluff the area back up by adding more batting, carefully lining it up under the hole using a skewer or the back end of a pen or pencil. Filling generally is not required unless the hole has been present for a while, or if a pet pulled some of the batting away.

Patch Perfection

For a hole, tear or slice in leather or vinyl, a patch beneath the material helps give the repair liquid something to grip onto, creating a strong, sturdy fix. Cut a piece of strong fabric such as denim or canvas to fit beneath the damaged area, extending a little past the ends of the hole or tear in all directions. For an L-shaped tear, cut the material so you only need one patch to fit beneath the entire damaged area.

Color Coordination

Mixing the tints with the liquid repair solution lets you create an inconspicuous repair on leather or vinyl, whether you're touching up areas that appear cracked or completely patching holes and tears. Examine the color chart included with your repair kit to determine which tints are required to match the damaged material. Mix the tints with the liquid in a sealable container -- in most cases, a small container is included with the kit. Read through the instructions carefully, if you have them, as some brands indicate that the color may dry darker or lighter than it appears when wet. Apply a small amount of the tinted repair liquid to an inconspicuous area, and let it dry for several hours or as recommended by the manufacturer to determine if the color is a good match. If not, adjust the mixture.

Repair Perfection

Apply the tinted repair material over the damage in a thin layer so it reaches beyond the edges of the hole, tear or crack. Use the spatula tool enclosed with the repair kit to apply the solution -- as if you're spreading frosting on a cake. Place the graining paper that came with the repair kit grain side down over the wet liquid. Some kits include more than one type of grain paper, so select the one that most closely resembles the material you are repairing. Iron the grain paper -- not the leather or repair liquid directly -- with a low-heat iron set to a setting without steam. Allow the grain paper to cool for at least several minutes before lifting it away, otherwise it may pull up the repair material before it cures.