How to Repair Peeling Bonded or Faux Leather, Why It Ain’t Worth It & An Affordable Solution

Peeling bonded leather: I normally won’t
touch it with a ten-foot pole. It’s much easier to find a nice piece of real
leather furniture and restore it. It’ll last you 20 years, but a lot of people dowant to try to work with this existing material. I think your starting point is
to peel off the unstable stuff and then of course bear in mind that it just
keeps going and going. These seams are really hard to work with.
If you can avoid messing with those that’s great, because anything you get in
here is gonna tend to obscure that seam and then it’ll look patched. So this side
I’m going to work with our Soft Filler. The the professional way to repair this
is to shore up this fabric substrate with a filler compound and essentially
create a new vinyl surface, but you want to be careful not to get too much of
this on the existing coating, because that’s the stuff that is unstable, so if
you add more weight to that it may actually take your repair with it, at
least wherever they overlap. But of course to get a good repair, there needs
to be some overlap sometimes to create… you know, to blend. All right, and this stuff cures up pretty
quickly, so keep the container closed. Start at the seam. You always want to
work away from the seam and not drag compound into the seam. And I broke my own rule coming toward
the seam, but I laid off at the last minute. And you can come back and use
your palette knife or fingernail and trace in that seam and then just kind of
feather your edges. So the Soft Filler took about 20 minutes to cure in the sun.
I’m gonna do one final pass. I should say that I broke my own protocol, screwed
up, did not clean the surface first. Now you don’t really need to clean the
fabric. In fact you don’t want to get the fabric wet; that’s going to alter the
Filler’s ability to cure, and I was very careful not to get it on this perimeter
yet, but now that I’m gonna do some blending and some texturizing,
that’s probably gonna happen, so I’m gonna come in and give everybody a wipe
around the fabric or on the polyurethane coating of the bonded leather, and
that’ll evaporate quickly and I’ll go a little more into this area for the Flex
Seal in just a minute. Let this dry. I’m gonna apply more Filler. All right. Clean up the seam. I’m going
for a plastic glove; piece saran wrap would also work, and emboss the Filler.
Create some chaos, add some texture, and take a lot of care to feather on the
edges, and you just want to… again you want to minimize what you get on this
bonded leather, because it’s such an unstable material to begin with. Okay,
this second pass is curing very quickly. It’s almost there. I’m going to continue.
I still have some flappy bits, so I’m going to ready myself for the experiment
with the Flex Seal. So a nod to the gals at Heirloom Paint
Traditions. They came up with a technique of using a rubberized coating
like Flex All, and I guess Flex Seal is kind of a knockoff on that, and that’s
what I was able to find locally. And it’s this pretty gnarly coating. You would not
want to use it inside an enclosed space, so if you’re having to do this on your
sofa, you do want to take it outside, which is not the case with the Soft Filler or with our paints. And you have to let it cure longer in between.
I’m going to recoat this fabric and hopefully shore up these edges with this
rubberized coating. So you can see that the fabric really took it unevenly, drank it up. I need lots more coats on this, but I really want to avoid getting too much
on that so I’ll just mask that. I should have done that the first round. And they
say wait 24 to 48 hours between coats, and that’s probably a wise idea. I have completed several coats on this,
waiting at least a full day in between. After the first coat I gently hand
sanded this to get off the burrs and then did a few more layers. You can still
see a silhouette. The texture is definitely superior with the Soft Filler,
but on this tricky seam, for example, the Flex Seal was great. I did lay it in here too thickly and had to cut that, or rather, trace through it with my
smoothing card to preserve this line and not to make it look patched. And I’m
ready to paint now and proceed with our experiment. So I’m going to work with a damp sponge and our Cherrywood (Rub ‘n Restore®) color. So I’ve done my Cherrywood base. Bonded leather, I’ve noticed, almost always has a lustrous finish and needs some of our
Clear (Prep+Finish®) so I’m actually going to do a glaze with the Mahogany, which is a
darker, more brown version of Cherrywood. I’m gonna do a drizzle of that on there
and a big squirt of Clear. And we’re now gonna take this for a two
to four month test drive. And as you can see, our chair has not
fared so well. This belongs to a friend who wears a pocket knife, and the clip of that pocket knife was the cause of the, or the start of, the original damage in
these two areas but also re-damaged our repairs. But as you can see this material
is continuing to delaminate elsewhere, and so my verdict is do not waste your
time or your money attempting to repair this. Short of scraping away every square
inch and recoating it with a fabric paint, it’s destined for the garbage. So my
recommendation is to hit the estate sales, check out Craigslist and Facebook
Marketplace, and look for real leather furniture. It will often have telltale signs of fading and discoloration, uneven appearance, oil stains or watermarks, and
it will restore it beautifully, and because it’s real skin, there’s no reason
it won’t last 20-30 years. And you’re free always to send us links to the listings or photographs if you have any doubt, and we can often discern and give
you some helpful advice. Thanks for watching!

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