Most often peeling or flaking is a sign of deterioration of bonded or faux leather which is cost prohibitive to repair. Sometimes, however, it’s just a damaged finish on real leather or vinyl that can be corrected.
Faux, bicast and bonded leather are synthetics made from split hide or ground-up scrap leather and coated in polyurethane. These are not the same as vinyl (PVC). They are to leather what particle board is to wood. They are notorious for delaminating – something the industry recognizes and dubs “hydrolysis-related failure”. Repairs are likely to suffer the same fate and are not recommended. Learn why and check out our affordable alternative here.
Leather or vinyl with a damaged finish can be corrected either with solvents or sandpaper.
- Try blending the damaged finish with denatured alcohol, paint thinner or stripper. Acetone is a last resort and should be used with caution. Test the solvents first in an inconspicuous area and see how well they work. Some coatings or finishes may turn into gooey mess, forcing you to strip the whole piece. In this case, sanding may be the preferred method.
- Wet-or-dry sandpaper will not gum up like regular sandpaper. Do not use anything coarser than 220 grit for leather or vinyl.
- If any suede is exposed or the surface chafed as a result of stripping or sanding, a thin coat of filler can be applied to restore integrity. This usually is not necessary.
- Once the surface feels stable and uniform, you can restore the appearance with Rub ‘n Restore®. While our colors are technically paints, their thin, water-based acrylic formula behaves more like a dye and is more harmonious with the material than other conventional coatings. Color changes will require occasional touch-up on high-wear areas, but Rub ‘n Restore® will never peel or flake.