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How to repair rough, scaly or sun-rotted vinyl or leather?

Rough, scaly or sun-rotted leather or vinyl should be pre-treated or repaired prior to recoloring. The process is different for these materials.

Learn more about pre-treating scaly leather.

Learn more about pre-treating sun-rotted vinyl.

Pre-Treating Scaly Leather

  1. Gently hand sand the leather with 220 or 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper until it feels smooth. Be more cautious with unfinished leathers, which may easily scratch. Avoid sanding areas where suede is exposed, as sandpaper may snag the fuzzy nap.
  2. Polish with 500 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper if desired.
  3. Wipe the surface with a damp rag to remove any dust.
  4. Use Clear Prep+Finish™ or a glaze (Color diluted with Clear) as a base-coat primer. This is more cost effective and will allow subsequent layers of color to dry more evenly.

Leather with more significant scaling should be repaired with Soft Filler.

CAUTION: Studies of workers in tanneries and shoe factories show sufficient evidence that leather dust causes sinonasal cancers. CC has been sanding leather since 1987, Lesandre since 2000, and so far, clean bills of health.

Pre-Treating Sun-Rotted Vinyl

  1. Gently hand-sand any rough areas with 220 or 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper.
  2. Wipe the surface with a damp rag to remove any dust.
  3. Use Clear Prep+Finish™ or a glaze (Color diluted with Clear) as a base-coat primer. This is more cost effective and will allow subsequent layers of color to dry more evenly.
  4. Color will seal minor hairline cracks or small pores and add UV protection. Any color containing white (titanium dioxide) is an especially strong sunscreen.

sun-rot-marine-vinyl-hot-tub-cover

NOTE: These finishes cannot fill voids. Soft Filler is recommended to fill larger gaps and restore integrity to the material. However, this is not cost effective for large areas of damage (like spa covers or vinyl car tops). Short of replacement, your best option is to apply a coat of Liquid Rubber® or FlexSeal® or other rubberized coating that will adhere to vinyl. Allow it to completely cure, and then follow with the desired Rub ‘n Restore® Color.

Type of DamageTotal Area of DamageFiller 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.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Tiffany Aiello says

    I have vinyl purses that need to be softened/conditioned. What is the safest product to use ?

    • lesandre says

      Vinyl purses that need softening? The first impression is that the purses may actually be faux or bonded leather with hairline cracks, in which case don’t waste your money or effort. If they are real vinyl, a new finish will protect and extend their life. It cannot reverse desiccation or plasticizer migration, however. Email good photos, and we can be of more help.

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The Knowledge Hub is a library of articles and videos complied to help our customers complete their DIY leather and vinyl restoration projects.