How to use a spray grain to improve texture on a vinyl or leather repair?

Professional artisans often use spray grains to blend the texture and appearance of a vinyl or leather repair. Most DIYers get good results embossing the filler or repair compound with a gloved hand or saran wrap or to create chaos and texture. If, after applying color, the repaired area remains noticeable, a spray grain will help disguise it.

We’ve always used SEM’s Chip Guard (be sure to buy the clear aerosol version, not the black). While SEM’s specs only advise it for plastic and fiberglass (like bumpers), it adheres well and has good longevity on finished leathers and vinyl (PVC), but not, of course, on bonded or polyurethane (PU) leathers, which resist all coatings.

A demo of SEM Chip Guard appears in this video at minute 6:55:

SEM also offers a Heavy Texture Coating.

Some tips for applying a spray grain for vinyl/leather repair:

  • Experiment first on a piece of cardboard.
  • Swift strokes from a distance of 10”-16” will create a finer, more distinct pattern.
  • Slower strokes at a closer distance will create a thicker texture with less definition. It will also take longer to dry.
  • Allow each coat to flash (dry and solvents evaporate) before applying another (usually 5-10 minutes). It should not feel tacky.
  • Try not to exceed 3-5 coats.
  • Gently polish with 500 grit sandpaper to remove any burrs or roughness.
  • SEM Chip Guard recommends 2-4 hours before topcoating with color, but we rarely do and have had no issue applying minutes after flash time. Follow the instructions if you use a different brand of spray grain.


    • A flexible filler is needed, and you can choose between an air-dry putty like ours or a heat-curing putty (requiring a heat gun) that can be embossed. Be wary of cracks on the side of bottom seats. If the vinyl could not withstand the normal stressors, a repair cannot make it stronger and is likely to crack as well. We’ve consistently been disappointed with the longevity of such repairs.

    • Sometimes the straps are made of or trimmed in vinyl. See here about cracking vinyl. If it’s real leather, you’d want to use a flexible filler, but bear in mind that a repair is not going to perform better than the original material. You might get a better result replacing the strap.


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