Cracked leather can look tacky, especially on a piece of furniture or wallet. It symbolizes that the item is not taken care of or is not maintained on a regular basis, even if it’s not true.
In this article, we explain what causes leather to crack, how to repair cracked leather, and how to prevent your leather from cracking.
What Causes Leather to Crack?
Leather is a natural material which is made from animal skin, and like all other things in nature, it does eventually deteriorate. Just like human skin, leather needs to be moisturized, and if you do not adequately take care of your leather products, you might start noticing some cracks.
Leather is also porous, which means it soaks up liquids such as water and oils from our body and hair. Eventually, these oils are absorbed into the top layer of the leather and become abrasive, breaking it down and ultimately causing cracks on the surface.
While leather cracks cannot completely be fixed or removed because they are permanent fractures in the fibers, they can be hidden – depending on the severity of the crack itself.
Types of Leather Cracks
There are two types of leather cracks: light and deep.
Light leather cracks are easier to hide and they can usually be hidden with a strong conditioner.
Deep leather cracks result from light leather cracks that have gone unnoticed or untreated. These are a lot more difficult to hide, and a simple leather conditioner would not be enough. You would need to use leather filler, leather dye, and sandpaper to hide these damages.
Can You Condition Cracked Leather?
A strong leather conditioner can help you hide your light leather cracks, restore moisture, strengthen the fibers, and blend the crack with the leather.
How to Hide a Light Leather Crack
What you’ll need:
- Dry cloth
- Soft bristle brush
- Mild soap
- Strong leather conditioner
Clean the surface of your leather thoroughly with a dry cloth to remove all the dust, dirt, or debris from the surface. You can also use a soft brush and mild soap/leather cleaner to clean the cracks.
Pick a small spot of leather and test the conditioner. Remember that conditioner can slightly change the color of your leather.
Use a sponge to gently spread the conditioner smoothly over the surface and into the cracks on your leather. Use enough to fill the crack and wipe away any excess conditioner.
Leave the leather to air dry, and do not use a high heat source like a hairdryer or direct sunlight.
If your leather is dry but the cracks are still visible, try to repeat the process, but do not repeat it more than once. Check out our next section for tips on how to fill deep leather cracks.
How to Hide a Deep Leather Crack
Deep leather cracks need more than just leather conditioner, including the following:
- Dry cloth
- Mild soap/leather cleaner
- Leather sealer
- A 600-grit superfine sandpaper
- Leather filler
- Leather dye
- Palette knife
Before treating the cracks, make sure your leather surface is clean and dust-free. Wipe it down with a clean cloth and use a mild soap or leather cleaner to ensure the cracks are clean.
Make sure that your leather is completely dry, as moisture can decrease the effectiveness of the filler. Use very fine sandpaper (600-grit) to smooth out the leather cracks. A very rough sandpaper could leave scratches on your leather.
Wipe away excess dust with a dry cloth and use a palette knife to spread leather filler over the cracks to completely fill the cracks. Let it dry out completely and then use your superfine sandpaper again to smooth out the surface.
Use a cloth to wipe away any dust on the leather. Check that your leather dye is a close match to the actual color of your leather. Apply a thin coat of dye over the filled crack. Blend the dye into the leather area around the crack.
This is the only time when you can use a hairdryer to dry your leather.
Set your hairdryer on the lowest setting possible and dry the leather by moving the dryer left and right over the dyed area. Make sure your leather does not dry out.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the cracks are completely hidden. This could take up to five coats. Remember to blend the dye into the surrounding leather for every coat, as you want the color to match as close as possible.
Use a sponge to apply a coat of leather sealer over the crack to protect and condition the dye and your leather. Use your hairdryer again, on the lowest setting, to cure the leather sealer.
How Do You Rehydrate Leather?
Leather needs moisture to maintain its elasticity and softness, so if it’s brittle or stiff it might be a sign of dehydration.
Reasons Why Your Leather Might be Dehydrated
- It is stored in high humidity or low humidity conditions
- Using a dryer
Ways to Rehydrate Leather
Use natural oils like jojoba, avocado, or coconut oil to soften the leather. Dip your finger into the oil and lightly rub across the leather. You can apply multiple layers and then allow the leather to dry completely.
Conditioners (lanolin-based) are designed to lubricate the fibers and soften the leather, keeping it flexible and preventing cracks.
Alcohol & Vaseline
Put a good amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and gently dab the pad over the leather surface. Apply a layer of vaseline to the surface and let it dry overnight.
How to Prevent Leather From Cracking
To prevent your leather from cracking you must maintain it properly. You need to use conditioning every 2-4 months and constantly check for signs of dehydration such as a brittle feel and cracks starting to form on the surface.
Do not expose your leather to direct sunlight or a high heat source. This will dehydrate it very fast. Instead, track the humidity of the room where your leather item is stored. It should be between 40% and 50% humidity consistently. If your humidity is too high, you should purchase a dehumidifier, whereas if it’s too low you should purchase a humidifier.
How to Repair Cracked Leather?
There are two different ways to fill a crack in the leather, depending on how deep the crack is.
Light cracks can be filled with a strong leather conditioner, while deep ones need to be filled with leather filler and leather dye.
What Causes Leather to Crack?
Leather is porous and absorbs bodily oils from our hands, arms, legs, face, etc. The oils become abrasive and cause the leather to become brittle, stiff, and eventually crack.
Can you Condition Cracked Leather?
Yes, you can use a leather conditioner on cracked leather. How deep your crack is will influence the effectiveness of the leather conditioner. For light leather cracks, the conditioner will be enough but for deep leather cracks, it might not be enough to fill in the cracks.
How Do You Rehydrate Leather?
You should rehydrate your leather products if you notice them getting brittle or stiff. You can rehydrate your leather with natural oils, a leather conditioner, or rubbing alcohol and vinegar solution.
Can You Get Cracks Out of Leather?
Leather cracks are permanent and you cannot remove them. Instead, you can use a leather conditioner, leather filler, and leather dye to fill the cracks and make them invisible.
Seeing your precious leather starting to show cracks can be stressful, but luckily you now know exactly how to fill your cracks, no matter how light leather or deep.
We hope that you found this article on how to repair cracked leather helpful!