Do Leather Repair Kits Really Work?
In a word: YES! In today’s world, saving money is key and making repairs to leather yourself has become a common occurrence. Before investing hard earned money, many people ask: Do leather repair kits really work? “Do-It-Yourself” Leather Repair Kits have been around for quite some time, and today, there are a ton of them being offered. Before you start looking for a DIY leather repair kit, here are the facts about all the Leather Repair Kits you will see on the internet.
What Do You Want From a Leather Repair Kit
Purchasing a kit at a very cheap price that will buy you another month or two of service.
These kits are cheap but will do the job quick and fast, but they only last for a very short time and most often turn out extremely inferior results. This method may be used if you are in the process of selling an item and only want to make it “look good” for the sale. Most would consider this as a “rip-off” because the next owner will have to deal with an extremely inferior repair to what he thought was an item in good condition.
Purchasing a Leather & Vinyl Repair Kit.
These types of kits are very popular. It’s natural to want to spend as little as possible to make repairs, but keep this one, very important fact, in mind: Leather and vinyl are two completely different materials and require completely different processes and materials to make permanent, invisible repairs. Leather cannot be repaired with the same products and processes as vinyl and vice-versa. Leather repair works on leather, vinyl repair works on vinyl. No one kit works equally as well on both.
Mediocre Leather Repair Kits
You will find kits that are priced “middle of the road” and advertised and promoted as “great” kits. They work. But, the materials and chemistry of these products are very sub-standard. They are incapable of producing long term results and in some cases may even cause severe, irreversible damage to the leather to which they are applied.
High Quality Professional Style Leather Repair Kits
If you are searching for professional quality results that you can do yourself, this is what you need. You can count on one hand the number of companies that sell these types of products on the internet. These kits were composed from many years of professional field experience. These companies are not just out to make a quick buck on selling you something. These products are produced from knowledge care and the desire to provide these years of professional experience with our customers. To determine whether a company fits this bill, go to their “about us” page. There, they will tell you their years of experience and share with you some of their stories and how they came to be in the business of selling their leather repair kits. These are not corporate owned companies. Most of them are “mom & pop”, family owned businesses. To them, it is not all about sales and money. It is a pride and satisfaction knowing that your knowledge and skills are being utilized by many novices who would otherwise have no solution to a problem
Beware Of Marketers!
Do a search on the web and you will find a plethora of web sites claiming to present the “10 best Leather Repair Kits on the market”. The sad truth is; most of these sites are complete bogus! They sometimes will display one or two kits that do “fit the bill”, but in all honesty, none of the, kits displayed are of top notch quality and most are a complete joke! If you examine closely you will find that ALL of the kits they display are taken directly from the Amazon web site. They select items that Amazon deems “best sellers” and they make money from displaying these items. They have performed no tests, made actual comparisons nor have done any research what-so-ever in composing this list. These sites are nothing more than revenue generators for the owners.
Do Leather Repair Kits really work?
Yes, they all do. It’s simply a matter of what you actually get. Keep in mind; you get what you pay for. Be careful not to be fooled by expert marketing techniques such as planted reviews, lofty descriptions and hype and certainly not photos. Photo shop is a great tool. But just like any great tool, it can be abused and made to turn things misleading.
So, how do you know which ones work and which are a waste of time and money?
Here are descriptions of different types of Leather Repair Kits:
Heat Cured Vinyl/Leather Repair Kit
One of the more popular repair kits found on the market involves using a “Heat Cure” process. This process was developed nearly 50 years ago and has never been an acceptable method of leather repair.
Here are the facts:
- The “repair” material is simply a colored screen printers ink. That’s right…the same used to print T-shirts!
- Heat, is very detrimental to leather…it “cooks” the fibers and causes premature deterioration of the leather. Even if a repair could be completed satisfactorily, the surrounding areas of the leather are damaged to the point where it will begin to break apart and cause a much larger damaged area over a short period of time.
- The process is very difficult to texture and blend into the surrounding areas. The amount of heat required to “cure” the material is much greater than the leather can stand. Therefore, lesser amounts of heat are generally suggested, resulting in an even weaker repair which breaks apart quickly.
- These kits are generally referred to as “Vinyl & Leather” repair kits. Vinyl and leather are two completely different materials and impossible to repair using these same products and techniques. Although these kits can perform better on Vinyl materials…they should be avoided for use on Leather.
- Because the “repair material” is weak to start with, a permanent repair will never be accomplished.
Water Base "Air Dry" Leather Repair Kits
Water Based or “Air Dried” repair materials are best for the repair of leather. However, there is a great deal of difference between the water based repair materials available.
Here are the facts:
- Most commercially available repair kits that are “water based” are formulated from a chemical compound known as polyvinyl acetate, or PVA for short. To describe this material in “layman’s” terms, it is the exact same material used in Elmers Glue™.
- PVA has a great deal of good uses, but, by itself, “leather repair” is not one of them. PVA is not flexible enough and will crack and split when the leather bends and flexes due to the fact that it does not permanently adhere to the edges of the leather nor is it flexible enough. When it dries, it turns very hard and stiff, making the repair very uncomfortable to sit on. A permanent, long term repair is not going to happen unless the repair is made in an area that gets no use, flexing or exposure. PVA does not, by itself, bond to the fibers of the leather. Within a short period of time, the repair will split and the damage will be much more difficult to repair a second time.
- In order to make PVA work well with leather, it is imperative that the formulation of the product be done so as to make it chemically compatible with leather. These additional additives increase the cost of the product and do not allow for the “cheap” price that many of these kits are selling for. In addition, there are polyurethane based repair materials which are far superior to PVA but, again, the cost of these materials are much higher as well which affects the selling price. To put it in short: You get what you pay for.
"As Seen on TV" Leather Repair Kits
Television has become a major marketing tool for business. There are myriads of products advertised and promoted through the air ways. Many of these products are legitimate, valuable assets to have and purchase. But the “As Seen On TV” mark does not necessarily prove a product to be worth the purchase.
Infomercials and advertising spots bring a great deal of “brand recognition” to a particular product and a large amount of product is sold using this technique. The idea behind the concept is to make the buyer feel comfortable in making the purchase because it is being promoted through a legitimate and popular method.
The reality of this method is that it requires a great deal of money to be included in these promotions. As a result, a very large return is expected. In order to be profitable for the manufacturer and the producers, the cost of the product must be low enough to warrant the expense and ensure profits. This requires that the product be manufactured cheaply, usually at the expense of quality. Very few companies are able to take advantage of this method of product promotion. Those that are should be highly scrutinized before making the purchase.
Home Leather Repair Remedies
When searching for repair methods, many web sites and blogs will point you in the direction of “home remedies”. While this information is intended to provide you with useful and practical advice, the vast majority is provided by posters who have little or no knowledge of the processes involved. Many people will share an experience which has worked successfully for them, and may work in other similar situations. But, when working with leather, no two situations are ever the same.
Certain recommendations may temporarily fix the immediate problem, but inadvertently, and without realizing it, the “solution” may cause irreversible damage in other ways. Stain Removal is a classic example. Many “home remedies” will remove certain types of stains, but the results may end up permanently damaging the finish or even the fibers of the leather itself. Leather is a very tough and durable material. But it is also very delicate when it comes to the chemicals used on it. Most individuals do not realize that chemical reactions, in most cases, take time to fully progress. Immediate results may appear to be very satisfactory. But, over a relatively short period of time, the leather may begin to break down from negative chemical reactions and a different type of damage becomes apparent. Most individuals will associate this new damage to inferior leather without realizing that the damage was caused by the use of chemicals which are incompatible with leather.
Many recommendations are also posted with regards to the actual repair of damaged leather. These may be beneficial and actually work as far as keeping the damage from getting worse. But most of these suggestions do not make for a pleasing, permanent repair. If you just want a “patch” job…fine. But none of these suggestions will provide you with a solution that is a true repair. There is much more involved in making a true repair than a little bit of glue and acrylic paint.
How to Choose the Right Leather Repair Kit
The repair of leather has always been a highly controversial subject. The main reason for this is due to the lack of advancements in the chemistry of leather repair products. The vast majority of the “do-it-yourself” kits that you find, consist of old fashioned products and techniques used 25 or more years ago. These products were the only chemicals and methods available during that time period and were derived from products used in other industries and applications. Very little concern was placed on the repair of leather goods because leather was not as commonly used and the market was much smaller. It has only been within the last 20 years that companies such as Leather Magic!™ and others have begun to concentrate on the development of these products.
This creates a great deal of confusion for the consumer. Many of the products sold are produced solely from the standpoint of “making a sale”. Little concern, if any, is placed upon the actual results that a consumer can get. This has established a poor reputation for the industry, and causes many people to conclude that the repair process is a waste of time and money since these kits do not work as expected. That is why it is imperative, that if you are concerned about the results you wish to achieve, you must perform a bit of research into finding the products suitable for your requirements.
Even today, many of the more “reputable” products, remain based upon the old fashioned ways of thinking but with enough implementation of modern technology to avoid falling into the same category as the “old time” products. The results are, admittedly, better, but still lack the thorough design and formulations that can provide you with exactly what can be accomplished.
So, how do you find out which products are best? You have to compare, and as the saying goes: “Apples to Apples”. First, heat applications are dreadfully damaging to leather. This process was one of the first processes used in leather repair. However, long term and irreparable damage is done to the outlying areas of the repaired area, making the leather weak and causing premature deterioration within a matter of months. Water based, air dry systems are the best. However, there is a vast difference between repair products, and unless you are familiar with chemistry, and most people aren’t, you cannot know the differences.
Before you purchase a product, check out the testimonials from users of the product. A reputable company will have many. Read reviews (when available) from consumer based web sites. However, reviews can be misleading for many reasons. These products are DIY and are totally dependent upon the users abilities, patience and “eye for detail”
Before and after photos are nice, but beware, anyone can make a repair look great in a photo, but it is impossible to demonstrate how strong and durable the finished product is with just a photo.