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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. Prime the surface with Clear Prep+Finish™ before applying color.

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. Apply a coat or two of Clear Prep+Finish™ to prime the vinyl. Allow to dry.
  4. Follow with a couple coats of Rub ’n Restore® Color to seal hairline cracks or small pores and add UV protection. Any color containing white (titanium dioxide) is an especially strong sunscreen.


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.

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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.