How to Fix Cracked Leather

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Once your leather furniture starts to crack, you may be wondering whether to hide the flaws or replace the piece entirely. Instead, repair those cracks with a leather repair kit that comes with its own mixable tints. Conditioning the leather helps prevent the leather from drying out, which may cause cracks.

Cleaning Care

  • Before addressing the cracks, clean the damaged area and the surrounding leather with several drops of a mild dish soap applied to a washcloth or microfiber cloth. Scrub nearby stitched areas of the leather as well. Rinse the soap away by rinsing the cloth, wringing it out and wiping the leather down again. Pat the area dry with a clean lint-free cloth. Remove any greasy residue from the leather with rubbing alcohol on a white lint-free cloth, or with the cleaner that comes with some leather-repair kits.

Moisture Is a Must

  • If your favorite leather upholstery seems a bit dry or brittle, besides being cracked, a thorough conditioning is necessary before repairs can be made. Apply a leather conditioner to the upholstery, rubbing it in with a soft lint-free cloth. If the leather still looks dry after 24 hours, apply a second coat. If the leather has not been conditioned in the last six months, apply the conditioner to the entire upholstered area of the furniture to prevent cracks in other areas.

Pre-Repair Maintenance

  • Inspect all of the cracked areas, looking for loose fibers that may stick up through your repairs. Trim stray fibers with scissors. Sand the area gently with a very fine sandpaper, wiping away the dust with a soft damp cloth. Allow the area to dry completely before applying the repair solution.

Making the Repair

  • Mix the liquid repair solution with the tints that came with the repair kit until the color matches the leather. Test the tinted repair solution on an inconspicuous area, such as the bottom back of a chair, to ensure the color matches, before applying it to a damaged area. Spread the repair liquid over the crack with the spatula tool included in the repair kit. Press the leather grain paper grain-side down atop the wet repair area; then iron the paper gently for 10 to 15 seconds with a clothes iron on a low heat, no-steam setting. After a few minutes, lift the grain paper off the leather to reveal the repair.

Preventive Maintenance

  • Condition the leather several times a year to help prevent cracks and to keep the leather soft and supple. Body and hair oils also damage and discolor leather upholstery, so clean the leather at least a few times as well using a dedicated leather cleaner.

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  • Photo Credit john shepherd/iStock/Getty Images
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