Top positive review
366 people found this helpful
Decent but not perfect
on April 16, 2012
I got this leather repair kit to attempt to repair one of the armrests in my car which had significant wear after 10+ years of "arm resting" on it! The wear consisted of cracks and rips in the leather, several large ones in the front and many-many tiny ones extending to nearly the middle of its length. So significant was the wear that I actually got a new armrest, but I thought I should give it a try. I had absolutely no previous experience in leather repairing, by the way.
I will start by briefly mentioning the instructions: you first apply a repair compound to fill in the gaps/holes in the leather (dries clear), then you paint, and finally you use a sealer compound (clear) to protect the paint if the area is under heavy use (the armrest apparently is; this last step may not be needed for other applications). Pretty simple eh? Read on!
Let me just say that I tried the repair twice. The first time I got a disaster! I think another reviewer mentioned it, taping the texture paper overnight after you apply the repair compound (per instructions) results in a sticky situation! The paper is not easy to remove afterwards, and if you apply a wet towel on top of it for 10 minutes to help in removal (per instructions), you still cannot take it all out perfectly, plus the moisture transfers onto the repair compound and weakens it. Rubbing to remove residuals of the paper (per instructions) makes it even worse as you will likely take out some repair compound with it. Not good! I ended up scrubbing (not just rubbing!) the whole thing with water to remove everything and start over. But make a note, this way you will make the original damage a bit worse, as this removes some leather with it.
The second time I applied the leather compound and used the spatula and my fingers to apply and make it nearly flush with the original surface. Took me 3-4 passes, once every hour or so. I ended up with a smooth surface, without any leather texture (I attached two photos at this stage - the top ones).
The paint was a pain to match, took me 2 days of mixing or so! At least I had the time available while playing with the repair compound :) But you get lots of colors and some basic mixing instructions to get the color you want. You just need patience... lots of it!
I then painted the repair, all the way from the front to midway. The paint is kind of thick, and dries out fast. I used the foam applicator to blot and feather away the paint (per instructions). Which is nice in theory, but in reality you end up getting some foam residuals of your project. I ended up using the foam applicator as if I was lightly sanding the project to remove everything (almost) as the paint was still drying. I forgot to mention you also get some brush bristles while painting, which can be removed with the foam applicator, in expense for more foamy residuals! The end result looked just okay, and without any leather texture. It then struck me, to use the texture paper on the paint itself. So I did. I applied another coat and instead of blotting/feathering or whatever, I just took a texture paper and pressed it on the wet paint, took it off after 5-10 seconds, and let the paint dry. The thickness of the paint is enough to preserve the texture and the fast drying helps. The result was a million times better than before (I attached two photos at this stage - the bottom ones).
Then I applied a thin coat of sealer with the foam applicator. The end result is very useable, although looking up close and under certain light conditions, you can certainly tell it is a repair and that the texture is not as deep as the original leather. But from 2-3 feet away, it looks very decent. In the car, where the lighting conditions are usually low and uneven, and there are shadows, etc., it looks nearly perfect.
Overall, I believe this kit is a decent choice. It is a shame they do not provide you with more texture papers (more of the same kind I mean - you get 3 different textures but only 1 sheet 2-by-2 for each), especially since these are so easy to deteriorate (and if you end up using water to remove them, you can forget about them). To be honest though, I guess on a smaller repair, doing it per instructions might be fine. My repair covered nearly all of the 2-by-2 surface of the paper (and as a result, more of the paper stuck on my project). But anyway, it is just textured paper, so they could have included more of it, in my opinion. The amount of the other materials you are getting is sure to outlast the amount of paper. For instance, after applying the leather repair compound on all this surface twice, I still have more than half of it left.
My feelings are kind of mixed however. For a small repair, you might be better off having it repaired professionally (how much more would it cost?) and save yourself the time! For larger repairs, the cost-effectiveness is much better, although you cannot make it "like new". I guess you have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.