How do you use leather filler to repair upholstery?

A flexible vinyl and leather filler kit is needed to repair upholstery that has:

Repairing peeling bonded, bicast, and polyurethane leathers is not recommended. See why and our solution.

This video shows how to subpatch and repair a large hole as well as the scaly surroundings using Soft Filler putty. If your hole is larger than 2″ in diameter, click here.

Video contents:

  • 00:30 – Cutting the subpatch
  • 01:00 – Inserting the subpatch
  • 01:20 – Glueing the subpatch
  • 03:14 – Cleaning excess glue and readying the surface for repair compound
  • 03:48 – Applying the leather filler, spreading, and feathering
  • 05:16 – Dry time and how to tell when the filler has cured
  • 06:22 – Sanding (we now recommend smoothing and feathering with rubbing alcohol)
  • 06:58 – Additional layers of filler repair compound
  • 08:32 – Texturizing and final sanding
  • 09:41 – Recoloring the repaired area

Soft Filler is water-based. An incandescent bulb, heat lamp or sunny window are needed to warm the surface to 120º – 145º F (49º – 63º C). Hair dryers are no longer advised, as they can blow moisture inward and prevent proper curing. The filler will change from white to mostly clear, and is cured when no longer tacky.

Rubbing alcohol can also be used to correct imperfections in the cured filler. Less is more, and you can always re-work the repair!

Print or download our free leather filler repair instructions here. Click here for troubleshooting filler application.

Type of Damage Total Area of Damage Filler Needed
Scaly, cracked, worn or thin but no large holes or voids4 sq ft (2ft x 2 ft)1 oz.
Scaly, cracked worn or thin but no large holes or voids8 sq ft (2 ft x 4 ft)2 oz.
Holes or tears (requires a subpatch & more layers of filler)12 sq in (1 in x 1 ft)1 oz.
Holes or tears (requires a subpatch & more layers of filler)24 sq in (2 in x 1 ft)2 oz.

Shop Repair Kits

This video demonstrates use of a heat-cure filler, which requires a heat gun or special iron along with graining pads. We do not sell these products.

Video contents:

  • 00:21 – Air dry vs. heat cure leather repair fillers
  • 01:07 – Cleaning with a solvent
  • 02:02 – Applying filler putty
  • 02:48 – A word of caution when using a heat gun on leather
  • 03:15 – How to know when the filler is cured and embossing with a grain pad
  • 04:13 – Let cool and repeat
  • 05:38 – Leveling out wrinkles and ridges
  • 09:45 – Final texturizing
  • 12:00 – A word about spray grains


  1. We filled a large hole in our leather couch with your filler compound, should the Levi patch be showing? We have done 4 fills, should we do more before dying?

    • The filler dries whitish-clear, so you may still see some of the denim patch. If it feels good, apply the color. If you need to rework the repair, just remove the color and apply more filler. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to smooth imperfections in the cured filler, rather than sandpaper.

    • Yes, filler will work. FYI, split leather is the lower half of the hide. There is no original epidermis (skin surface), so it is inherently weaker.

  2. Love your videos! Good, thorough instruction, comments that are applicable to what you’re presently doing (vs tips on a step already done) and no unnecessary schmaltzy accompanying music used!

    I’ve had a rip in an arm of the most comfortable chair (+ the frame has ‘good bones’) for too long. The rip really downgraded its looks so I demoted the chair to storage. I’m into DIY but when I tried to repair it it surely wasn’t as good as yours. Thanks so much for the great instructions & tips!

  3. I have a new (used) leather recliner I just purchased. I was told it’s about 15 years old, but that it is high-end leather and had a high retail price. I’m not sure if that’s right, though it does seem pretty tough. Most of the leather is nice is smooth, if a little distressed, except the armrests and a part of the leg rest which is very scratchy and uncomfortable – it’s almost like rubbing my arms against sandpaper. Not great. Would the Soft Filler be appropriate here? Cleaning it doesn’t seem to resolve.

    • Try a gentle sanding with 320 grit sandpaper. The proof will be in applying color. If the color corrects it, you’re golden. If not, strip it out with alcohol, let dry, use the filler.

  4. I have a motor home that I am preparing for sale. There is a small amount of peeling on the couch seat between the cushions but they are not removable. Would the soft filler work here? How do I match the color?

  5. I have a 79 MGB with a 3 inch crack and a quarter of an inch wide in the top of my dashboard. Would your method work for this Thanks Tony

  6. Sorry if I’m missing the tutorial…how would you repair boat vinyl seats that are cracked (not open holes, just fine splitting) before refinishing the color?

  7. Have a brown vinyl round sofa chair. Our dog when a puppy, tore a big patch of vinyl from one side & couple of others down near the base. Want to sell the chair now. Can this fabric beneath the vinyl be spray painted? Upholsterer said he can’t fix it.

    Would send a photo if I knew how.

  8. Just bought a used dark red leather chair and ottoman.
    It is in good shape except where the headrest is
    Has dark coloring ….possibly from oil from someone’s head…. Will dye cover even ? Do I need to go black or can I do it all a mahogany color?


Leave a Comment