Repair a Damaged Leather Couch Cheaply & Easily

About: I'm a (mostly) pet photographer in Melbourne, Australia, and a DIY junkie. Particularly when it's photography related.

Our leather couch is 30+ years old and has seen better days. Most of these days occurred before it was subjected to living with dogs and it's suffered damage from each one, whether that's merely claws on worn leather or active vandalism.

The back cushions hide a spot where one dog tried to dig a hole through it, and where the wood has been chewed can be ignored, but the tears in leather need to be fixed to keep it functional. In the past I've used a second hand window curtain to cover the seat cushions when they started to rip. Curtains are excellent as they're usually quite thick, don't fade too easily and are often big enough to cover large areas. They're also cheap and easy to find in reasonably nice colours and patterns.

This time however our newest dog decided to tear into the arm rest and do some investigating (cheers dude!) so there was also a dent that needed repairing to keep it comfortable to lean against. The photo was from his first go at the couch, he actually expanded the hole next time he was unsupervised for more than 10 minutes.

It's a neat couch, but not really worth having it repaired and reupholstered so this is where some DIY comes in!

Supplies:

  • Dogs that make it so you can't have nice things
  • Good old trusty hot glue gun
  • Glue for the glue gun
  • PVA glue
  • Fabric scissors
  • Second hand curtains in patterns and colours that aren't completely offensive - op shops (thrift shops) near me have heaps
  • Cotton fabric or equivalent that can be used for the first layer of repairs (I used the fabric from the liner of a very nice dog bed that was torn apart)
  • Small bits of foam (also from the demolished dog bed), larger would work as well, but it would depend on the area you're filling

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Step 1: Filling the Hole

Grab your PVA glue and either paint it on or just squirt it out using the tip and spread it around with a brush, then start sticking bits of foam into the hole. Take it easy, don't go too crazy with the glue or else it'll become a wild, sticky mess. I let the clumps of foam remain in clumps to bulk it out. I basically wanted it to all sit in there fairly ok without falling out when I covered it with fabric in the next step, while still being squishy enough to be comfortable.

I also glued down the leather that had pulled away from the foam that hadn't been ripped off.


PVA was chosen because Google didn't seem to think it would react with the foam in any funky ways and it also remains fairly soft when it's dry. More importantly, I had some lying around. You could also use a spray adhesive, I'd stick with the PVA if/when I have to do this again thought as it worked great.

I put down an initial layer of foam and then let it dry for a while, before going back and lightly dabbing more PVA onto the top of the foam layer and gently sticking more to it.

Step 2: Covering the Foam

Using the remains of a liner for a dog bed that was ripped apart, I cut out pieces of cotton fabric to cover, flatten and contain the foam. I figured that doing it in layers would make a stronger cover and make it look a bit less lumpy.

I made a line of glue with the hot glue gun, then glued one side and stretched it tight over the foam. Same again for a few more pieces of fabric until it was covered and looking pretty smooth. Go easy with the hot glue as it can be hard when it dries, I just glued around the edges of the fabric.

Once it's containing the foam and looking good shape wise that'll do the trick.

Step 3: Curtain Cover

These curtains came from....somewhere. No idea. But in keeping with the theme of this Instructable one of them has been vandalised by a dog. But that's fine because I didn't need all of it.

Cut out enough curtain fabric to cover the area needed with some spare for gluing and tucking it in where needed.

Because the foam has been pretty thoroughly contained, it's not necessary to go wild gluing this layer down. You could opt for velcro too if you want it to be easily removed. I glued it lightly on the edges and then tucked in the excess fabric.

Step 4: Tell the Dogs to Stop Eating Things

They won't listen, but they'll look cute while they ignore you.

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