A burn hole or small tear in a car's upholstery is ugly to look at, can lead to further damage and devalues the car's trade-in or sale value. A repair that matches the original upholstery is easy to make with commercially available fabric, vinyl or leather repair kits. Matching the colors takes time, patience and some experimentation, but excellent results with an imperceptible repair are attainable. These techniques will ideally work for holes one inch or less in diameter.
Items you will need
- Household cleaner
- Sharp iris scissors
- Sharp single edge razor blades
- Small pieces of upholstery foam
- Polyester batting or cotton
- Heavy muslin
- Fabric glue
- Fabric, vinyl or leather upholstery repair kit
- Extension cord
- Dry detail rag
- Transparent tape
- Car Vacuum
Clean the area thoroughly with household cleaner and allow it to dry. Trim any burnt or damaged upholstery with iris scissors. Use a razor blade to cut a steep bevel angling away from the hole in the upholstery. This cut is especially important for a vinyl or leather repair.
Cut foam and or polyester batting or cotton to fill the hole to the level of the existing upholstery. Press on the repair site and make sure that the resistance is the same as the surrounding undamaged upholstery and the repair site does not push in more.
Cut a piece of muslin 1/4 to 3/8 inch larger that the hole. Tuck in and under the existing upholstery, making sure its finished height is level with the underside of the surrounding hole or tear. Use fabric glue or adhesive from the kit to secure the backing muslin to the back side of the surrounding upholstery. Make sure the surface is level with the surrounding material and allow to dry thoroughly.
Vinyl or Leather Final Repair
Following the directions for your specific repair kit, mix the colored repair compounds to obtain an exact match to the seat vinyl or leather. Mix enough of the correctly colored compound to fill the repair site. Test the match on the vinyl or leather and wipe it off with a dry rag.
Fill the hole with the correctly colored compound. Do not overfill it. Pick out a matching grain pattern paper and tape it to the the repair.
Plug the repair iron into the extension cord and allow it to heat for five minutes. Apply even heat over the entire repair area with firm pressure in a circular motion for the kit-specified time -- generally about 40 seconds. Do not remove the grain pattern paper until it's cool.
Fabric Upholstery Final Repair
Following the directions for your specific repair kit, mix colored fabric fibers to obtain a match to the existing fabric. Using kit-supplied spatula and fabric fiber adhesive, spread an even coat over the backing material.
With the kit-supplied screen, evenly sprinkle the matched fibers over the adhesive until the area is filled. Gently pack down the fibers and sprinkle more fibers until the area is filled and all adhesive is covered. You can use the edge of a dry spatula to match any patterns in the fabric. Allow it to dry overnight.
Vacuum off all loose fibers. Spray a very light coat of hair spray onto the repaired area and allow it to dry.
- Automotive fabric, vinyl and leather repair kits are available at your local retail automotive parts stores.
- The vinyl and leather kits that contain an electric iron work best.
- You can mend tweed or coarse woven fabrics with a invisible weave technique.
- Save any leftover matched compound or fabric fibers for future repairs.
- Always wear safety glasses or goggles.
- Do not apply a hot iron directly to vinyl or leather.