Some leather repair kits include tints to match the sofa color.

Patching a Ripped Leather Sofa

by Kathy Adams

That leather sofa in the living room may have plenty of years of use left in it -- other than one unsightly tear. Rather than reupholstering the sofa or buying a new one, repair the damaged area yourself with a leather repair kit. Opt for a kit that includes several colors for tinting the repair substance. That way, you can match the repair color so closely to the original leather shade that no one will notice the sofa was ever damaged.

Wipe the area around the damage thoroughly with mild dish soap on a damp sponge. Rinse the sponge and wipe again to remove soapy residue. You can also use a leather cleaner instead of soap. Removing the dirt and residue from the damaged area reveals the true leather color, which is important for color-matching the repair. Buff the wiped area with a dry soft cloth.

Push down on the damaged area and areas adjacent to it to determine if more batting is needed under the rip. If the ripped area feels indented, push cotton or batting into the hole, stuffing it beyond the tear in all directions, until the amount of filling seems comparable to nearby areas. Do not add batting if it's not necessary.

Plug in the iron and set it to low, or at the setting recommended on the repair kit's instructions, which may vary by manufacturer.

Hold an iron-on patch next to the tear to note the hole's size. Cut the patch so it's at least 1/2 inch longer and wider on all sides than the tear. If you don't have an iron-on patch, a sturdy fabric such as canvas or denim will suffice. This material strengthens the repair area, making it less susceptible to additional damage.

Push the patch sticky side up through the rip, aligning it so the hole is centered on the patch and no batting is visible. Use a spoon bowl or handle to push the fabric around until it is aligned correctly. If you're using fabric instead of a patch, place the fabric smoothest side up.

Mix the repair liquid and tint in a spare container or the one included with the repair kit, using the spatula tool from the kit. Add tint until the color matches the leather.

Apply the tinted repair material to the rip with the kit's applicator tool, starting at one end and feathering the material beyond the edges a bit to blend it into the leather. Work in thin layers in a small section at a time until the entire rip is covered.

Place the leather-grain paper from the repair kit texture side down over the rip. Press the hot iron over the paper, moving the iron slowly but continually as you work, for 10 seconds or as directed in the repair kit's instructions. Cover the surrounding areas with plain paper if you find it difficult to iron the grain paper without the iron touching the surrounding leather. Continue ironing until you've heated the entire repair area. Leave the grain paper in place for several minutes until it cools, otherwise it may pull up the repair liquid. Remove the grain paper.

Items you will need

  • Mild dish soap or leather cleaner
  • Damp sponge
  • Soft cloth
  • Cotton or batting
  • Clothes iron
  • Iron-on patch or sturdy fabric
  • Scissors
  • Spoon
  • Plain paper (optional)


  • Apply the tinted repair material to an inconspicuous area of the sofa to test that the mixture's tint is correct.
  • Test your leather repair technique on a scrap piece of fabric to get a feel for using the grain paper and iron together.
  • Some leather repair kits include a tool with a flat metal end. If yours has this, you can heat the tool on the iron's hot plate instead of using the iron itself over the grain paper. This is useful in a confined space.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images