Whether you are someone who loves undertaking arts and crafts projects with leather or want rescue your favorite leather jacket or best pair of brogues, then one thing you are going to need in your tool-box is an adhesive capable of standing up to the demands of leather. Because leather is tough, semi-porous, and heavy, comparatively to other flexible materials, you are going to need a glue specifically designed to be suitable for use on leather.
This may interest you: Best Fabric Glue or Best Glue for Glass.
But what glues are suitable for use with leather, how do you pick the right one for your specific task, and what is the best way to use leather glues? The answers to all these questions and more will be revealed below to help you make an informed choice when taking your first steps in the market of leather glues. We’ll also give you the low down on our favorite leather glues for a variety of projects and pick a glue for every budget.
What glue works on leather?
Because leather is such a durable material, it also tends to be a bit heavier than typical glues you might have lying around the house can handle. Leather is also a porous material which can cause some additional difficulties. This means you need to pick a glue that is going to be able to bind with the porous material without ruining the way it looks by seeping all the way through it and be able to hold the weight of the leather. Here, we outline the main types of glue suitable for use with leather.
#1 Cyanoacrylate (CA) Glue
This glue, more commonly known as superglue, is super strong and great for quick small repairs that don’t require any space caused by a large tear to be filled in part by the repair glue itself. This glue tends to come out in a sticky runny fluid which typically dries almost on contact. This means you need to be able to work precisely and quickly when working with this glue. However, some superglues come in gel form which gives you a bit more leeway in terms of positioning time and is more viscous ensuring you don’t get accidental run-off.
#2 Contact Cement
If you look up leather glue, you might be surprised to see a whole load for products coming up with cement in their name. Typically this is used for non-porous materials, such as tiles, that other glues don’t have the strength to hold. However, this is also a tried and tested leather adhesive as it will not absorb into the leather due to its viscosity and is a good choice for more challenging projects with particularly heavy leather. Contact cement works by applying it to both surfaces you wish to stick together and allowing it to dry for around 15 minutes or so. You then have to position your connecting parts in exactly the right spot as you won’t be able to adjust position on contact.
#3 Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) Glue
Leather glues that come from the PVA family tend to be advertised under as leather and suede fabric glues. The benefit of this type of glue is that it is non-toxic and water-based which means you can wash it off whilst still wet and wiggle things into position before it dries as you get more time before the full bond happens. This does mean you may need to clamp things in place sometimes so make sure what you are trying to stick together in this way can be physically clamped in place for some time if you are using this glue.
#4 Polyurethane Glue
This type of glue is suitable for leather repairs that require big gaps to be filled. It also happens to create incredibly strong and long-lasting bonds and thanks to its flexibility it is suitable for use on leather. If a leather glue is advertised as being suitable for vinyl repair, it is likely to come from this family and also be suitable for use with leather. This glue is also waterproof so is suitable for use on outdoor projects and dries in a particularly unobtrusive fashion. This glue is toxic though so make sure to wear gloves when using it. You will also need to moisten surfaces you apply it to in order to make a bond successful.
Top 10 Glues for Leather 2023 [Updated]
So now you know the different types of glue out there, how to choose the right type of glue to work with leather, and how to use leather glue all you need to do is add the right glue to your tools box. Here, we will outline some of our favorite leather glues to work with and the sorts of projects that they will be suitable for.
#1 Best Leather Glue for Shoe Repair: Aleene’s Leather & Suede Glue
If you’re looking to rescue a beloved pair of shoes, handbag, leather belt, or then this leather repair glue will be just the ticket. This glue is fast tacking which helps to ensure it does not soak into the leather itself as this would cause it to stiffen and become impossible to save. You can apply this glue to both materials being bonded for an even more secure initial bond. For fast bonding repair work on leather items, this is a great glue choice.
Other pros of this leather glue are that: it will not leave stains on your leather as it does not soak through; it dries clear helping to create cleaner finished products; it is flexible which is vital if using on leather items you intend to wear, and; it is easy to remove from unwanted areas when completely cured (don’t try to wipe this off when still wet). The downside of this leather glue is that because it is fast tack, you need to work carefully and quickly when carrying out your repair work.
#2 Best Non-Toxic Leather Cement for Repairs: Fiebing’s Leathercraft Cement with High Strength Bonds
If you are after a non-toxic adhesive that is suitable for use with leather and can be washed away with water whilst still wet, then you should give this adhesive cement a whirl. However, even though this adhesive is water-based, that does not mean it creates weak bonds. In fact, this adhesive can even bond leather to non-porous materials like metal if your repair job needs this. For sofa, leather bag, and leather seam repair, this is your glue.
Other benefits of this leather glue are that: it dries quickly but with a short window to wiggle things into place; it is non-flammable; it is a good choice for leather car seat repair work; this cement dries clear so will not leave unsightly smears if you over-apply; it can be easily washed off whilst still wet, and; it does not give off the type of fumes most leather glues and cements do. The downside of this leather glue is that it is not suitable for use in the outdoors and
#3 Best Glue for Leather Jackets: Coconix’s Vinyl and Leather Repair Kit
If your most prized leather jacket is starting to look too much like it has seen better days and small rips have become big gashes, then you should check out this leather repair kit. Whether it’s a scratch, a burn, a crack or a gaping hole, this kit has everything you need to restore your leather goods to a state that will easily be passed off as good as new. The multi-colored repair compound tubes ensure you are able to create just the right tone to your repair work.
Other good things about this leather glue kit are that: it can also be used for sofa repair and to restore leather couches that have been decimated by cat claws; the different colors mean it is versatile for a range of leather items and can still leave a professional finish, and; you won’t need to use heat a whole range of tools to do your repairs, just this kit. The downside of this leather glue kit is that you need to be patient when applying this glue so as not to leave brush marks.
#4 Best Glue for Black Leather: LeatherFixit’s Black Leather & Vinyl Solution
If you need to touch up some black leather shoes, a car seat, or a black leather jacket, then you should be looking this leather adhesive designed specifically for black leather if you want to have a neat finish that can’t be seen. This stuff bonds in an instant too without the need for you to apply heat and you don’t need to figure out how to clamp something in place for hours either. This is the best adhesive for black leather repairs.
Other things to like about this leather glue are that: it is a mixture of paint and leather that quickly forms into a smooth leather-like surface on application; it is non-toxic and water-based; it copes well in hot and cold climates without any cracks appearing; it is suitable for use on any black leather product. The downside of this leather glue is that it takes quite a long time to repair even small tears with this glue and it is not suitable for any leather other than black leather.
#5 Best Versatile Leather Cement: Barge’s All-Purpose TF Cement for Rubber, Leather, Wood, Glass, and Metal
If you’re after an adhesive that makes strong bonds on a range of materials including leather and rubber (ideal for shoe repair), then you will be pleased by the quality of this all-purpose cement. This cement is often the go-to choice for professional cobblers if you are thinking about throwing out a pair of shoes that might have some life in them yet, why not give this cement a try first? Converse lovers also love this glue for its rubber adhesive strength.
Other pluses of this leather cement adhesive are that: it is fully waterproof so you don’t have to worry about wearing your newly fixed shoes out in the rain; it forms a strong but flexible bond helping it to stay in place longer; it dries nice and clear (although make sure to spread it out thinly as if you spread it thickly it will dry more of an unappealing yellow). The downside of this leather cement is that it is extremely flammable so be careful where you apply it and keep it out of reach of children.
#6 Best Superglue for Leather: Loctite Extra Time Control Super Glue
If you want a glue that bonds fast and can be used to seal up small cracks appearing in leather, then you should check out this superglue gel. Because this is formulated to bond quickly but with a little extra time to position things correctly, this is easier to work with than most superglues. The handy applicator nozzle ensures you are able to easily apply this glue to the exact location you need without any run-off.
Other advantages of this leather superglue are that: the spout doesn’t clog up easily; it can stand up to tough weather conditions – sun, rain or shine; a little goes a seriously long way; it forms strong bonds between any materials you throw at it, and; it doesn’t give off any nasty aromas. The downside of this leather glue is that it is a toxic substance so is best used with a face mask and preferably a pair of rubber gloves.
#7 Best Glue for Ripped Leather: Tear Mender’s Instant Fabric and Leather Adhesive
If you have noticed some cracking in your horse saddle, sofa, or leather jacket, then this will be the leather adhesive to soon have these cracks and tears fixed up. This permanent adhesive dries quickly forming a solid bond. It is also suitable for indoor and outdoor projects as it is both waterproof and UV resistant. Despite these great features, you’ll also be pleased to know that this is a water-based glue that is non-toxic.
Other reasons you might want to use this leather glue are that: it forms a latex-based bond which is flexible and durable; it is suitable for use on any partially porous material, and; it dries clear so will not look messy (although it does not form an invisible bond especially on darker leather). The downside of this leather glue is that you won’t be able to bond leather with things like wood, glass, and metal with it.
#8 Best Leather Repair Kit: Fortivo’s Leather and Vinyl Repair Kit for Couch, Car, and Furniture
If you are after a versatile furniture repair kit that comes complete with the sort of instructions that a complete novice can easily use, then this is the leather repair kit for you. Whether you’re looking to touch up a scratch here and there or need to make wholesale changes the instructions manual takes you through exactly what you need to do in a step-by-step way. So if you need some help fixing up leather, this is a great choice.
Other merits of this leather glue are that: when you buy this you gain access to useful video resources to go alongside the instruction manual if you cannot decipher the meaning of something. The downside of this leather glue is that; there is a 30 day money back guarantee so you can pretty much test this product out for free; the kit is suitable for any leather color, and you don’t need anything other than this kit to get repairs done. The downside of the kit is that you don’t get much of each color of repair compound glue.
How to choose the right glue for your needs?
So now you know the basics about the types of glue suitable for use with leather, you need to think about the type of project you are going to be working on to help you choose the right glue for your needs. In this section, we will outline the key things you need to consider before buying leather glue so that you can make an informed decision about the right leather glue for the specific project you are working on.
#1 What type of leather glue should I use?
The first thing you need to consider is what type of leather you are working with. More specifically, you need to consider what color leather you are working with and how heavy and durable it is. If you are working with a black leather, you are going to want to get a glue that dries that color. A number of leather repair kits come with a range of colors of compound glue so that you can work with different leather tones.
When it comes to the weight of your leather, you need to make sure you are picking a glue with a strong enough bond to hold the weight of the leather. You also need to consider what material you are going to be sticking the leather to. If you are sticking leather to leather then you may be okay with a Leather & Suede adhesive but if you need to bond leather to something non-porous like metal, you will need a stronger adhesive, such as a cement or a superglue.
#2 Drying Speed
This is a key consideration when working with any glue and any material. If your project or repair involves simply placing a piece of leather into place or pulling together a small tear, then you might be able to work with a really fast drying glue. However, if you are likely to need a bit of time to wiggle things into place, then you will need to pick a glue that doesn’t cure too quickly and will allow you to maneuver it into place.
Some glues need a long time to cure and will require to be clamped into place for some hours to form a proper bond. If what you are repairing or making is not something that can be easily clamped, then you should make sure the glue you choose has a short curing time. But remember, if you pick a glue that dries pretty much on application you won’t have the wiggle room you may need to get something into the perfect position.
#3 Waterproof & Weather Resistance
If what you are repairing is going to be used outside, then you are going to need a glue that is completely waterproof or water-resistant at the very least if it is not going to spend most of its time outside. You also want to ensure that coming into contact with water is not going to ruin the finish of your project or begin a process of deterioration that is effectively going to lead to you having to do the repair work all over again. It’s also worth considering the heat resistance of the glue and how it stands up to extremes of heat or cold.
Whilst we all might want the moon on a stick, we can’t always have everything we want exactly as we want it. When it comes to buying glue, although we might want it to be capable of x, y, and z and not cost more than a packet of crisps this is unfortunately not going to happen. Therefore, you are going to have to consider how much you are willing to spend to get a good looking finish to your repair work as well as meet all your strength and durability requirements.
You also don’t need to buy the most expensive glue if your project doesn’t require it. Just pick one that is strong enough, has the right color, and has an appropriate drying speed for your needs. Nevertheless, it is worth investing in the right glue if what you end up with is a better finish and longer-lasting repair as it can be a false economy to choose the cheapest option that will work. Find the balance between price and quality and your decision will be easy.
#5 Environmental considerations
One reason more and more people are starting to repair things more is because of the state of the environment and the level of waste prevalent in our societies. Therefore, it stands to reason that, if you are repairing something to try and cut down on waste and carbon emissions, it hardly makes sense to use chemical-based products that are harmful to the environment. Fortunately, there are a range of water-based glues that a strong enough to bond and repair leather for people who are worried about using toxic chemical-based glues. Check out the list below for the best non-toxic adhesives to use with leather.
How to use leather glue
Whether you plan to fix up an old pair of boots, repair a tear in a jacket or patch up a ripped car seat it is important to remember some key pointers when working with leather glue. Here, we will outline some top tips on how to use leather glue safely and effectively.
#1 Prepare your space
Make sure the area you are working in has good ventilation as most leather glues give off some unwanted fumes which neither smell nice nor are good for your health. You should be aiming for a room temperature of somewhere between 41-104 Degrees Fahrenheit as this is the temperature leather glues tend to work best at. Make sure to cover the bench or table you are working on with protective material if you do not want it to be at risk of getting stained.
#2 Prepare your materials
Look over the materials you plan to stick together paying close attention to where the material will be joined. It is important to remove any small threads or particles that will get in the way of the bond. However, you don’t want the edge you are joining to be too smooth either, so if you are working with a particularly smooth material (such as metal, glass, or plastic) you may wish to roughen it up a bit with some sandpaper. Also, make sure the leather is completely clean and, unless otherwise stated on your adhesive packet, dry.
#3 Use appropriate safety equipment
It is a good idea to wear gloves and a face mask when working with leather glue due to its extreme stickiness which is difficult to wash off the skin and cause irritation as well as the fumes it gives off. Ideally, choose gloves made from nylon or cotton. Make sure not to use gloves made out of PVC as these will not protect you from most leather glues and can have an adverse effect.
#4 Apply the leather glue
Depending on whether you are using leather glue or a cement, you will either need to apply the adhesive to one surface or two. Either way, make sure you spread the adhesive as thinly and as evenly as you can to help improve the finish. However, if the area you are trying to repair requires gap-filling then you will need to apply your adhesive more thickly and make sure it will dry an appropriate color to match with the leather you are working on.
#5 Make the bond
The way you approach joining your materials together will depend on whether you are using a glue which dries almost on contact and is highly tacky or whether you are using a glue that requires clamping and allows you time to wiggle your pieces into the perfect position. Either way, it is a good idea to position your pieces as close to their desired position as you can manage before applying firm pressure to initiate the bonding process. If you do wiggle your bond into place you may dislodge some glue but don’t be tempted to try and remove it until it is completely dried.
#6 Clamp the bond
Even with fast tacking glues, it is a good idea to clamp a repair in place if possible as it takes 24 hours, on average, for every eighth of an inch of glue to cure completely. You can use anything you can find that works to clamp your bond in place, from rubber bands to tape or a proper set of clamps if you have them and the materials need firm pressure to be applied.
#7 Allow to cure
Ideally, you should leave materials clamped together for a minimum of 3 hours and full curing can take anywhere from 24-48 hours with around 70% of curing happening in that first 24 hours. Full curing time depends on the climatic conditions you are working in (temperature and humidity) and also how thickly you have applied your adhesive.
#8 Clean up
Make sure you have some white spirit or similar solvent available in case of any accidental spills. Whilst it is not recommended to try and clean off wet glue from the materials you are sticking together until fully dries, if you spill any glue on your work surface it is a good idea to wash it off as fast as possible with a solvent as it will require less effort on your part before it dries. Try to ensure no glue is left in the applicator nozzle if the glue you are using has one and make sure your glue is tightly sealed after use so that you don’t return to a dried out mess next time you need it.
If you work with leather, fancy trying your hand at some leatherwork or just want to fix up some of your leather goods, you are going to need to get to grips with leather glue. In this post, we’ve outlined the major types of adhesives suitable for use with leather and the various benefits of each for different projects to help you make an informed choice about the right type of glue to suit your project needs.
Check out the list of our favorite glues to find the right adhesive for you and follow the instructions above to help you use it safely and effectively. There is a glue on this suitable for every budget and project need for anyone looking to carry out a project using leather.
Alice Carroll says
Thanks for pointing out that rubber adhesives can be quite effective when repairing leather shoes. My husband recently found some old shoes in our attic and he doesn’t even remember when he stored them away. Maybe it will be best to get shoe repairs for it so that he has a backup pair of shoes whenever he has to dress overly formal at work.