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Gluing leather - Adhesive guide for real leather
June 15, 2020Category (ies): Adhesives, Guides
Leather is a noble and visually appealing material. However, since it is flexible, repairing or gluing this material can hold one or two surprises in store. Not every leather glue is suitable, even if its packaging promises it. In the following, we will tell you in our adhesive guide how you can identify the right adhesive for leather and how you can optimally glue leather.
Table of Contents
Properties of leather
Leather is an animal material - more precisely, animal skin - which has been made durable through a special process, tanning, as well as through the use of chemicals. The animal skin usually comes from either pigs or cattle, sometimes also from horses. The further processing and conservation results in a supple and versatile, but relatively sensitive material, which is extremely different through different positive characteristics distinguishes:
- Leather is very durable and long-lasting when properly cared for
- It is almost completely impermeable to water, but still has a high level of breathability
- It can be used for many different applications, such as car seats, belts, shoes, seating or handbags
- It has a very attractive look
The smooth exterior of the leather is created by the papillary layer lying there, while the underlying reticular layer is responsible for the coarser fibers.
In addition to sewing, the gluing of leather has a wide range of applications; however, there are a few things to keep in mind. Not every leather glue keeps what it promises. Some types of glue spoil the leather by staining - this can easily happen a year after the gluing process. And gluing leather to leather requires a completely different adhesive than gluing leather to a hard material.
Which leather glue you use depends on many different factors:
Application areas for leather gluing
Leather can be joined in different ways. One of the most popular techniques, however, is and remains the leather gluing. This is mainly used in the shoe industry as well as in the furniture industry.
But as a craftsman, too, the gluing of leather offers you a wide range of options for repairing furniture or for designing and decorating objects and items of clothing. You can add leather applications to bags, shoes or hats. Even the gluing of leather with plastic is possible, for example if you want to cover the center console of your car with leather. However, you must make sure that the leather adhesive has good heat resistance, because in summer various interior parts of the car can easily be exposed to sixty degrees Celsius or more.
The repair of leather car seats or leather-covered steering wheels is also possible. Car upholstery shops work comparatively often with heat-activated adhesives.
Properties for a good leather glue
Leather can be glued with many different adhesives. However, you should pay attention to the second substrate, i.e. the joining partner, when gluing leather. If it is a flexible material, you should reach for an elastic leather adhesive. For example, if you want to glue leather to a fabric or cover a sofa with leather, you should never use superglue, because it is not elastic.
However, you want leather on Glue wood, a superglue can be used because the latter is a hard material.
It is essential to pay attention to the tanning agents with which the leather was made durable, because these can react in different ways with the adhesive and impair the adhesive properties. The color can also suffer from an unsuitable leather adhesive - unsightly discoloration can occur.
For these reasons, you should always carry out a leather adhesive test first, i.e. stick a small sample of the leather to the second substrate and wait for the adhesive to harden completely before you tackle the entire process of gluing.
Apart from these things, a solid adhesive for leather should generally meet the following requirements:
- Even if you glue leather to a hard material, the glue should still be reasonably flexible in order to adapt to the elasticity of the leather
- The appearance of the leather must not be impaired, i.e. the leather adhesive must not penetrate the surface. Caution is advised at this point! Because some adhesives only react with the substrates after more than a year and this is what happens
- after this time there are still ugly spots.
In general, the user has the choice between special leather adhesives, contact adhesives, spray adhesives and superglues.
Another adhesive of choice for gluing leather would be a solvent-free dispersion adhesive whose properties are similar to those of solvent-based adhesives. Such leather adhesives are available, for example, based on polychloroprene or polyurethane.
Nowadays, double-sided adhesive tape for gluing leather is also on the market. However, it is not suitable for every application. They are mainly used for laminating large leather surfaces on hard surfaces.
We'll go into more detail about the best types of leather glue in the next chapter. We will introduce you to the three most suitable types.
Recommendation for the leather gluing: Special leather glue
Special leather adhesives were specially developed for leather gluing and not only develop optimal adhesive properties, but also do not penetrate the surface. The UHU special adhesive for leather has these positive characteristics and a few more:
- With this glue you can not only glue leather to leather, but also to other materials; Even non-flexible materials such as wood or metal can be combined with leather
- The leather adhesive is quick-setting and compensates for material tension very effectively
- The adhesive is both temperature and water resistant
- In terms of price, the UHU special adhesive for leather is absolutely okay
- The UHU special adhesive for leather needs a long time for the hardening phase - you have to reckon with around a day of drying time
We have a clear recommendation for the UHU leather glue, as it absolutely does what it promises.
3,39 €incl. 19% statutory VAT.
- Special adhesive for bonding leather, synthetic leather and rubber
- Also sticks in connection with metal, textiles and many plastics
- Quick to attract and flexible
- Tough elastic adhesive film compensates for material tension
- Water and temperature resistant
Leather glue for large areas: Contact adhesive
Contact adhesive is a good choice for leather when large areas are to be bonded together. A good contact adhesive can be used, especially for shoe soles, as this creates a very durable and resilient connection. Since contact adhesives contain solvents, the flash-off time must be observed before joining the parts to be glued. You can find these in the attached data sheet. After the flash-off phase, the parts can then be put together and fixed with force.
A contact adhesive that is very suitable for this is the UHU contact power adhesive. It can be easily spread with a spatula and promises an extremely durable and long-lasting connection. It also has several other advantages:
- The UHU contact adhesive is suitable for almost all conceivable materials
- It is quick to attract and therefore time-saving
- He is able to optimally compensate for material tension; therefore it is perfect for flexible materials like leather
- Immediately after joining, the materials can be processed further
- The adhesive for leather is temperature resistant between -15 ° and + 70 ° Celsius
- The UHU contact adhesive is potentially hazardous to health and in a few cases reacts with the substrate, i.e. some types of paint and coatings can cause blisters. We therefore recommend a leather adhesive test: The adhesive should be applied to a small and inconspicuous area before use. Then wait for it to fully cure.
Since the UHU contact adhesive has many advantages, but only one disadvantage, we speak out clearly in favor of it.
17,35 €incl. 19% statutory VAT.
- Universally applicable, liquid contact adhesive
- Super strong, easy to spread and quick to set
- Permanently elastic: compensates for material tension
- Fast: Materials can be processed immediately after they have been bonded
- Temperature resistant from -15 ° C to + 70 ° C
Gluing leather to a hard surface: Superglue
Superglues are adhesives based on cyanoacrylate. They are ideal for gluing leather to wood or for joining leather to other hard materials. Superglue can even be used on different types of plastic.
A super glue that definitely does what it promises is Pattex Ultra Gel, a super glue that is both water and shock resistant. It can score with many advantages for the user:
- The Pattex Super Glue Ultra Gel is suitable for different materials
- It is an extremely powerful and yet, thanks to the included micro-rubber particles, very flexible adhesive
- The superglue for leather and other materials is very durable and long-lasting and is not only unbreakable, but also dampens vibrations
- The application is easy and possible without dripping because the glue is gel-like
- The superglue is suitable for stable connections in the workshop as well as for every conceivable connection in the household
- Porous materials such as wood also benefit from the adhesive properties of the Pattex Ultra Gel
- The drying takes place extremely quickly
- Pattex superglue is not suitable for substrates that are to come into contact with hot liquids
- With different plastics, glass as well as very soft leather and plastic foams, there are quite a few materials that are unsuitable for the connection with the Pattex Ultra Gel
- The vapors produced during the gluing process can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes
Although the Pattex superglue has some disadvantages, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. With this leather glue a permanent and very durable connection is possible, the glue dries very quickly and has a solid price-performance ratio. He therefore receives a clear recommendation from us!
6,49 €incl. 19% statutory VAT.
- Extra strong, waterproof super glue
- Particularly flexible thanks to micro-rubber particles
- Shatterproof, vibration-absorbing, shock-resistant
- Gel-like consistency - does not drip!
- Suitable for bonding plastic, rubber, leather, wood and ceramics
Tips and tricks for gluing leather
There is a special leather soap that perfectly removes all grease and dirt residues from this material. You can use these to clean the substrates before bonding.
Before gluing, place a few thin spatulas within easy reach so that you can absorb any leaking adhesive immediately before it dries and leaves visible lugs on the outer edges of the adhesive surfaces.
To hide glue spots afterwards, you can treat them with a color spray for leather. These are available in all imaginable colors so that you can simply spray over unsightly areas.
Repair leather sofa
Leather sofas are usually not necessarily the cheapest variant of this chair, so that the owner might think twice about buying a new one or rather repairing the existing one. If only a few seams are out of sync, they can be concealed in a very simple way. Of course, an attentive observer will notice the repair; however, gluing leather offers an inexpensive alternative to buying a new sofa.
- Make sure that the area to be glued is completely clean and free of grease before starting work. Moisture can also have an adverse effect on the adhesive properties of the adhesive. So the place must also be dry. After cleaning, do not touch the areas to be glued with your bare hands and it is best to wear disposable gloves, because the grease on the skin can also impair the adhesive effect of the leather glue.
- Now pull the open seam together and apply the adhesive thinly on one side. Press the two areas to be glued together firmly for up to eighty seconds.
- If you are unsure whether the adhesive used is suitable, test it in advance on an inconspicuous part of the sofa. An unsuitable adhesive can discolour the leather, especially with very thin covers.
Repair shoes properly
Expensive leather shoes in particular can benefit from a repair. If, for example, the sole of the shoe has come loose, this damage can be flawlessly repaired with a good adhesive for leather and the right technology. To do this, proceed as follows:
- First, the two adhesive surfaces are thoroughly cleaned of all dirt deposits and grease residues. Then the surfaces are slightly roughened. You can use sandpaper for this. After the substrates have been cleaned of the sanding dust again, you can spread the contact adhesive or leather glue thinly and evenly on the surfaces. It is important that the glue used is waterproof in case you come with the shoe in the rain.
- If you use a solvent-based adhesive, you must observe the flash-off time. To do this, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Now the sole and the shoe are pressed together and fixed. You can either place a heavy object on it or use a screw clamp - but be careful not to damage the material of the shoe. Let the leather glue cure for at least twenty-four hours.
- The soles of the shoes can also be roughened with chemical agents. In doing so, however, you should pay attention to occupational safety and wear a face mask as well as attach importance to adequate ventilation of the workplace.
Frequent questions and answers
How do you care for leather?
Leather is a very sensitive material that must also be perfectly cared for for optimal longevity. Obtain the most suitable cleaning sets and carry out the leather care at regular intervals.
How do you clean leather?
Leather must never be washed in the washing machine, but should be brushed gently with a soft brush, possibly using a special leather oil. In the case of heavy soiling, the following applies: Better to bring the good piece to the cleaning department and let the professionals do it.
Gluing leather is not as easy as gluing some other materials, because not every leather glue is suitable for this. We hope we were able to help you with our adhesive guide.
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