Faux leather is a synthetic material that constitutes an inexpensive base fabric with a polyurethane coating. While it is a material that is cheap and easy to produce, faux leather is unfortunately prone to flaking and peeling off, with even the highest quality materials failing after about a year. It is also difficult to repair and many cobblers won’t try.
So what do you do when your favorite faux leather shoes start to peel? Don’t worry! We have put together this quick and easy guide to keep your footwear looking its best for longer.
You have a few options to choose from when it comes to faux leather repair so experiment to find the best results for you. You do need to bear in mind that some of these techniques will worsen the condition of the shoe overall – only attempt when you are feeling adventurous!
Before any kind of fixing can begin, you need to get rid of any flaking faux leather. This is best done with sandpaper that is around 180 grit.
Sand in close circles with lots of pressure to make sure that all of the damaged faux leather is removed. It is a good idea to work methodically to make sure that no spots are missed and that no area is excessively sanded.
Shade In Discolouration
The first option you have for faux leather repair is to color in any discolored patches or cracks with a permanent marker after sanding.
Use a thick marker that is the same color as the shoes to keep the color uniform and gently shade in discoloration. This will improve the overall appearance of the shoes.
Now you need to polish the shoes. Dip a rag into shoe polish and drag it across the shoe. As with the marker pen, be sure to select the correct color and work methodically in long strokes to evenly cover the whole shoe surface.
Now you have removed some of the peeling faux leather and got the shoes to a nice, uniform color, it is a good idea to seal everything in with an adhesive. Something like Shoe Goo works best.
Use a paintbrush that is no more than an inch thick to smear the glue around – it is essential that this glue layer covers all of the shoe, including the seam where the sole meets the top of the shoe, as the composite fabric underneath the sanded off faux leather needs to be protected.
The adhesive will need to dry for several hours to a full twenty-four hours but check with the manufacturer for more information. To check that the glue is dry all you need to do is lightly tap it with a finger.
If your finger stays clean and doesn’t feel wet, sticky, or tacky, the glue is probably dry and the shoes are good to go. If your finger does feel wet, sticky, or tacky, the glue is not dry and needs to be left for another few hours.
Another option for fixing the appearance of faux leather shoes is to paint with leather paint once the peeling faux leather has been removed. If you choose to use paint, be sure to only sand what is necessary when preparing the shoe as excessive sanding will cause unnecessary damage.
Be sure to find a leather paint that matches the color of your shoes and paint them in even layers where it is needed. Working in long strokes in a single direction often gives the best results and make sure that the area is fully covered before leaving them to dry. Drying will take at least thirty minutes but do check with the manufacturer.
Once dry, you have the option of covering the shoes in some gloss finish leather paint. This will give the shoes a nice shine and an additional layer of protection from the elements. As this is a sealant, it is generally recommended to paint several coats to help add some integrity to the fabric and prevent future peeling.
Remember that the wet paint won’t look like that when it dries. If the gloss finish looks white when painted on don’t worry! It will dry clear and will leave behind an attractive sheen.
Soft Leather Filler
If you have a little more time, this method of fixing your shoes is likely to give the best appearance when completed. Soft filler works by bonding with the base fabric that the polyurethane coating was applied to, creating a new surface layer that is similar in texture to vinyl.
Once you have sanded off the peeling areas of faux leather fabric, apply the soft filler to these areas with a putty knife or something similar. Be careful to not use too much to keep your work neat and improve the overall finish of the repaired shoes.
Smear the putty across the area in need of repair and then smooth over so that it is an even thickness that is not so different from the rest of the shoe.
Avoid getting putty on areas that do not need repair as this will affect the quality of the repair. Be sure to scrape off any filler that got onto the seams with some cardboard or stiff paper.
You now need to let the filler cure for around half an hour but this will vary so check with the manufacturer. The filler needs to be left alone while it cures otherwise it will not dry properly. Once dry it is wise to apply a second layer using the same process for application and curing.
If you would like to add texture to the area that you have filled so that it matches the rest of the shoe, you need to do so when the second layer has almost finished curing.
Simply place some plastic wrap over the top and lightly press with your hand and peel away. Repeat until the area has the desired level of texture.
To correct the color of the shoe, you need to apply leather paint with a damp sponge.
You can lightly bounce the sponge along the filler to move paint along, being careful to work as evenly as possible. Going over the join of faux leather and filler will help reduce any color discrepancies and give the repair a more polished finish.