How to Fix a Burn Hole in Car Upholstery

Wondering how to repair those ghastly cigarette burns in your car seat? We’ve got you covered.

Driving while holding a cigarette in handPhoto: Shutterstock

Fixing burn holes in car upholstery

Whether you purchased an old car, you’re the culprit yourself or you let someone else borrow your ride, a cigarette burn in your car’s upholstery is a scourge. Burns can happen in an instant, even simply as a result of fallen ash. The aftermath, however, isn’t so simple to fix.

For a burn hole in leather upholstery:

  1. For a burn that hasn’t totally penetrated the leather, you can remove the unsightly mark by partially cutting out the burn. Begin by cutting a cross in the burn approximately half the depth of the leather, then cut the burn out around the edge using a scalpel. If your burn didn’t go all the way through, you can skip to step five.
  2. If the burn has gone all the way through, you’ll want to cut all the way through, leaving a resulting hole.
  3. Repair the hole by using tweezers to insert canvas cloth behind the leather, making sure the cloth is perfectly flat and leaving about a 1/2-inch overlap under all edges of the hole.
  4. Apply glue using a scalpel, paint stirrer or other thin object, pushing one side of the hole down to raise the other side up. Next, wipe the glue onto the underside edges of the hole and press them down. This process should be done to all edges. Let everything sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Then, apply four thin layers of leather filler. Allow the first layer to dry with a hair dryer for three minutes before gently pressing the filler down with your finger. Repeat this process with the next two layers.
  6. Using a leather touch up kit, match the colour of the leather, applying the colour to the filler with a cotton swab and drying with a hair drier. Allow it to sit for one minute, then apply additional colour until it blends well.

For a burn hole in vinyl upholstery:

  1. Cut around the burn hole using a scalpel. When cutting, make the hole a little bigger to obtain extra fabric from the vinyl seat that can be used to create an evenly-shaped patch.
  2. Place the cut-out material onto a new vinyl patch material from a vinyl repair kit. Cut your patch and position it in place over the burn hole to make sure it fits.
  3. Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the area.
  4. Wipe the area clean with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Iron the patch into the hole to bind the fibres by using a low heat setting on a clothes iron. (Check out more smart uses for sandpaper.)

For a burn hole in fabric upholstery:

  1. Begin by taking a bit of mayonnaise and rubbing it on top of the burn hole in the fabric. Let it sit for a few minutes. Use a clean, wet cloth to wash off the residue. This step helps detach the melted burn marks. (Here are more uses for mayonnaise you’ll wish you knew sooner.)
  2. Scrape remaining burn marks away with a scalpel.
  3. Use a small razor to remove a piece of fabric from underneath the seat, ensuring you choose a piece that looks like the fabric where the burn occurred (be sure any pattern match). Cut a patch that matches the spot where the hole is.
  4. Apply fabric glue to the patch and place it over the burn.
  5. Allow the glue to dry. The patch should now blend in well with the rest of the seat, masking the once ugly cigarette burn hole!

Now that you know how to fix a burn hole in your car’s upholstery, find out how to get rid of smoke smell in your car.

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman