People frequently call Mac's Upholstery asking how to repair a torn car seat, how to repair leather car seats or how to fix a damaged truck seat. There's no easy answer. It depends on a couple of things: how do you want the seat to look after the repair and how long do you want the repair to last.
Duct Tape Seat RepairIf the repair is temporary or strictly for functional purposes, a few strips of duct tape over the damaged area may work for a while. Colored cloth or vinyl tape is another popular fix. Of course, the brand of tape, its adhesive properties, weather conditions and the location of the tear make a big difference.
One thing is certain: at some point, the tape will tear or its adhensive will go bad. Then you'll have to "repair the repair". Removing old tape can further damage your car seat. We don't recommend this approach.
If the damaged section is tiny and the fabric edges are still in good shape, you can try Super Glue or Gorilla Glue; pull the fabric edges together, then apply a bead of glue. A strip of tape may be necessary to hold the fabric edges together as the glue dries. When done correctly, this sort of do-it-yourself repair works fine if you're not concerned with appearance.
Vinyl Repair KitThose vinyl repair kits you sometimes see advertised on late night TV promise perfection, but rarely deliver. Using a vinyl repair kit requires a keen eye for detail and an artist's touch. Not only do you have to match the color of the damaged section, you have to properly mix the chemicals and then apply the correct texture before the substance dries. In many cases, the texture options provided in the kit won't match the damaged section. Colors can be problematic, as well. They can fade, wear off or simply go bad.
Replace Damaged SectionAs a practical mater, it's just about impossible to repair anything other than a very small tear with a vinyl repair kit. The repair may hold, but we've never seen one that looks right. This is how one product reviewer describes working with a repair kit, "I'm not sure what I expected, I guess too much, or perhaps this just delivers too little. Its basically like fixing your car leather with painted duct tape that has better stick than actual duct tape".
Another product reviewer puts it this way, "I bought this product to repair the leather seat in my car. Shame on Mercedes for using cheap bonded leather and it wore away on the driver's seat. The area was no more than 3/8 X 4" and the cloth backing was in tact. About all this product did was color the cloth and possibly infuse the cloth with some vinyl which I hope will give the cloth some extra strength. BUT it does not look repaired. Despite the amount I cleaned the area after the curing process there was still residue ruined a pair of shorts (luckily I wore a pair that I was willing to ruin). I would not waste my money on this product".
Have you heard of "Shoe Goo"? Shoe Goo is formulated to repair tennis shoes, but we've seen it used to fix car upholstery. Very messy. Not a good idea, unless it's a temporary patch.
This website recommends repairing a damaged car seat by stitching the torn fabric together with an upholstery needle and thread. This approach works if you don't mind your car upholstery looking like a darned sock or Frankenstein's forehead.
After decades of doing this sort of thing, we believe there's only one truly effectively way to repair a car seat. You have to replace the entire section of fabric surrounding the tear. Often times you can purchase fabric identical to the original material, which makes color and texture matching a breeze. If you care about the appearance and durability of your car seats, this is the only way to go.
Mac's Upholstery repairs damaged leather, velour, microfiber, cloth and vinyl upholstery. Instead of junking your damaged furniture, have it repaired. When done properly, repairing your upholstery can be affordable and environmentally friendly.
Patching a specific tear or burn in a piece of furniture may seem efficient, but there are problems associated with this approach. Matching the texture, grain or color of a small section of damaged fabric is difficult at best. It's also labor-intensive and costly. What's worse, tiny touch-up repairs often go bad.
A more durable, aesthetically pleasing alternative involves replacing the entire section of fabric on which the damage is located. By replacing the section of fabric instead of just the spot where it's damaged, an upholstery repair looks seamless. This technique is usually less expensive, as well.
Here's a great example of the correct way to repair ripped upholstery. A number of these patio seatbacks (above) were torn. Instead of sewing together the shredded webbing, we matched the vinyl fabric then replaced the entire seatback. This repair method is far more reliable and usually less expensive than repairing each individual tear.