Leather is an exceptionally strong, hard-wearing and long-lasting material that can handle many years of everyday wear if taken care of effectively.
However, one of the most dreaded moments people who own leather clothes or furniture have is when they notice that the leather has cracked, because this is a sign that the material is starting to wear out.
Restoring and repairing these cracks, however, is not as difficult as it may initially appear, and with some preemptive care, maintenance and leather repair kits, cracked leather can be easily sorted out.
At a fundamental level, leather is a natural material that has been tanned and treated to make it water-resistant and stronger. However, it is still animal skin at the end of the day, and skin can dry and crack as a result of the complex interweaving of fibres that rub against each other and eventually break.
In our own skin, we have not only a regular supply of water but also natural oils that replenish constantly and reduce the risk of cracking, which is why our skin cracks when we are dehydrated, but leather replaces this with tanning agents, oils and waxes that do not replenish.
The first step before repairing cracked leather is to clean it with either soap or a dedicated cleaner, testing on a small, inconspicuous patch first. Use a soft cloth or dry brush to clean the top surface where the crack has emerged as well as around it.
After this, clean around the cracks with a small brush with fine bristles and a small amount of mild leather soap for a slightly deeper clean that helps make the leather more pliable and soft, which makes it easier to repair.
The next step is to gently smooth a leather conditioner over the crack to reduce the depth of the crack and aid in repair. Generally, you only need a small amount and this smoothing can be done with a finger or even the round end of a spoon.
The key is gentle movement and giving the conditioner time to work; once the crack looks less pronounced, wipe away any excess repair product and let it gradually absorb the conditioner and rehydrate.
This process can sometimes take all night, so be willing to give it the time it needs, but for smaller cracks or ones that have recently emerged, it can quickly solve the problem and reduce the need for more expensive and drastic methods.
To repair deeper cracks, there are two primary methods you can use that will clean deeper cracks and breathe new life into your leather products.
The first is leather dye, which can match your leather item’s colour and is gradually built up on application to create a smooth finish before leather sealant finishes the job and adds long-lasting protection.
The other is to apply leather filler into the crack, which can provide long-lasting repairs with one product.
Both can be effective, but be sure to read the instructions for any product you use before applying, and ensure that you clean and sand the crack smooth to ensure an even surface for the repair material to stick.
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