Seat Cover Repair: How-To DIY A primer

DogBunny

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DogBunny

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Here's another:

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Foam.

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Loose, hardened chunks of old foam removed.

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Foam inserted into voids. Fabric will come next.

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Vinyl stretched as much as safely possible, and fabric adhesive pushed in and under as much as possible.

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Black RTV silicone applied, and graining pad placed on top.

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Second application of RTV after first application cured.

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Third application of RTV.

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Finished repair after a little fine-tuning.

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A little un-level when the light hits it right (or wrong)...

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... but under most light, and from a couple feet away, not bad.

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Not bad considering how nasty the damage was.
 

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DogBunny

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That’s a very interesting technique, I’ve never seen that done before! :thumbsup: I’ve tried some vinyl repair kits that looked horrible when done. Your repair is very discreet.
Thanks. I've been honing this for a long time. I started out with those horrible kits. I've come a long way since then, all through trial and error.
I'll get into details, but here's one more example:

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Final.

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Not bad for an area that is hidden. This one was really more about stabalizing the damaged area so that it won't grow.
 

DogBunny

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Here are the essential supplies. I'll start going into the details of each in my next post.
All are readily available everywhere. My Walmart has all of them on the shelf, and their prices are the lowest. The fabric is sold by the yard in the fabric department, you can ask for just a half yard.

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https://www.amazon.com/Paints-SEM15243-Satin-Black-Aerosol/dp/B00FMS8N0E
This is the one other essential supply. My Advance Auto has it on the shelf. I've used this product for years, and I've touted it before. Rust-Oleum and Dupli-Color make similar products that are much less expensive that you can try, but this is the original, time-proven vinyl paint, and I'm sticking with it. It has a multitude of uses.
 

DogBunny

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You spray paint the repair with that satin black? And it sticks?
Yes. It is a remarkable product. It's what the professionals use.
It was created for car interiors. It can be used on almost any interior car surface. Vinyls, plastics, fabrics, even rugs. It comes in lots of colors, and can be used to change the color of any of the materials I listed. It is excellent as a color-changer -- a thin coat will give great coverage, even when applying a light color over a dark one.
For a really permanent repair, you are supposed to use a SEM cleaning product, and then a SEM prep product, but the SEM Color Coat does a good job by itself, just using soap or alcohol as a cleaner.
There are lots of different forum users and YouTubers who have done entire motorcycle seats with it. It may need touching up after a couple of years.

One thing I really like about SEM Color Coat is how user-friendly it is. It is almost impossible to screw up the application. It has tremendous resistance to sagging. It looks good whether applied thickly or thinly or unevenly. It dries within minutes.

It is essential to my seat repair method. The Black RTV Silicone is not robust, and requires the SEM as a protective coating.
SEM color coat is not a filling agent. It will not fill in or smooth-over pinholes or blemishes. You need to make sure that your seat repair is exactly like you want it before you use it. After the RTV application cures, I spend a lot of time fine-tuning with a variety of tiny spatulas and tools, adding tiny dabs of RTV to correct gaps and imperfections. I'll get into that in a future post.
 
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DogBunny

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Before someone screws something up and gets mad at me, It's time to talk about making the Graining Pad.
The crappy kits come with a few paper graining pads. SEM also sells an inexpensive set of paper graning pads. The vinyl and leather repair specialty suppliers sell some nice and fairly expensive graining pad sets. I bought the SEM set, and I have the crappy kit ones, and none of those pads come even close to the texture of the covers in my above examples.
It's not an issue, because making a graining pad is incredibly easy. The key is to USE A RELEASE AGENT!!!!

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This was a test comparing Vaseline vs. beeswax as a release agent. The seat cover was cleaned, then a THIN coating of the release agent was applied. It doesn't take much. Work it in well, and wipe off any excess with your finger, or very lightly with a cloth. You could apply the release agent heavily, and it won't hurt anything, you'll just get a not-very-good graining pad with a lot of the detail lost. Be carefull when squeezing the silicone onto the prepared cover to avoid making voids. Wait overnight for the silicone to cure. If you screw up it's not a big deal, just learn and make another. Again, this is EASY.
The beeswax and the Vaseline are both excellent release agents. You will use them again when you actually use the graining pad that you have made on the Black RTV Silicone. If you don't have beeswax or Vaseline you could use axle grease, olive oil, etc., etc. Before you commit to making a big graining pad on a conspicuous area of your seat cover, I strongly suggest that you TEST!!! Make a test pad the size of a dime on the underside nose of the seat cover or on some other inconspicuous area.
 

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Not sure if they still do but Wally World used to sell a vinyl seat repair kit with a variety of common color types premixed.
Used one on a few items with some success. I always removed the cover, or enough of it to get access to the back side. Glued a piece of fabric backed vinyl there and let it cure, holding the gap as closed as possible.
Once that was set up I would apply the black goop, then apply one of the various texture patches that most closely represented the finished product and used the heat iron supplied.
I've done a couple seats and a really long gash in the vinyl covered hard bags on my wife's bike. At a casual glance the repairs aren't noticeable. If you know they're there then you can spot them but most have never seen them
 

jetmechmarty

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Yes. It is a remarkable product. It's what the professionals use.
It was created for car interiors. It can be used on almost any interior car surface. Vinyls, plastics, fabrics, even rugs. It comes in lots of colors, and can be used to change the color of any of the materials I listed. It is excellent as a color-changer -- a thin coat will give great coverage, even when applying a light color over a dark one.
For a really permanent repair, you are supposed to use a SEM cleaning product, and then a SEM prep product, but the SEM Color Coat does a good job by itself, just using soap or alcohol as a cleaner.
There are lots of different forum users and YouTubers who have done entire motorcycle seats with it. It may need touching up after a couple of years.

One thing I really like about SEM Color Coat is how user-friendly it is. It is almost impossible to screw up the application. It has tremendous resistance to sagging. It looks good whether applied thickly or thinly or unevenly. It dries within minutes.

It is essential to my seat repair method. The Black RTV Silicone is not robust, and requires the SEM as a protective coating.
SEM color coat is not a filling agent. It will not fill in or smooth-over pinholes or blemishes. You need to make sure that your seat repair is exactly like you want it before you use it. After the RTV application cures, I spend a lot of time fine-tuning with a variety of tiny spatulas and tools, adding tiny dabs of RTV to correct gaps and imperfections. I'll get into that in a future post.
I’ve used that SEM stuff and may have some on hand. Great stuff!
 

DogBunny

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though I've done pretty good with the "crappy" vinyl repair kits.
Not sure if they still do but Wally World used to sell a vinyl seat repair kit with a variety of common color types premixed.
Used one on a few items with some success. I always removed the cover, or enough of it to get access to the back side. Glued a piece of fabric backed vinyl there and let it cure, holding the gap as closed as possible.
Once that was set up I would apply the black goop, then apply one of the various texture patches that most closely represented the finished product and used the heat iron supplied.
I've done a couple seats and a really long gash in the vinyl covered hard bags on my wife's bike. At a casual glance the repairs aren't noticeable. If you know they're there then you can spot them but most have never seen them
Glad to hear that you've liked the results you got from the kits.
I started with a kit, used it several times, and was always extremely dissasitisfied. I've watched many TouTube seat cover repair vids. Typically, they will start out with an inch-long tear, and they'll end up with a conspicuous repair area the size of your hand.
I kept on watching videos, and eventually I found some made by professional vinyl and leather schools. Yes, you can go to school to learn body repair, and you can go to school to learn vinyl repair. A professional vinyl repair-person's tools and materials can easily be up in the several thousands of dollars. They can make repairs that are absolutely perfect. I have no doubt that they charge hundreds and even thousands of dollars for their services. I have no doubt that most of their clients happily pay these amounts.
I adapted my technique from what I learned in those professional vids. A good example is making the graining pad. The pros can't be waiting overnight for their pads to cure. A lot of them are mobile -- they come to the client, and they have to be able to make the whole repair in a matter of hours. They make their graining pads using a 2-part rubber compound that is squeezed out of a syringe, and that cures in a few minutes. As I recall, the cost of a single syringe is $210.
 

DogBunny

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I never really finished this How-To, so I'll resume now.

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The Loctite Vinyl Fabric & Plastic Repair Flexible Adhesive is critical, and it is what actually makes the repair. The Black Permatex Silicone is mostly cosmetic, it doesn't add a lot of strength to the repair.
Ideally, the Loctite actually dissolves the surface of the existing vinyl seat and the surface of the backing material, resulting in a very strong "welded" repair.

I tested several vinyl and fabric repairs and adhesives, as well as several different backing materials.

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I've used Plasti Dip VLP Vinyl Repair 61Z09. It works just as well as the Loctite, probably because it's exactly the same. But 3X the cost, and harder to find.
I've never used GEAR AID Aquaseal FD Flexible Repair Adhesive, but it looks promising. Again, probably the same stuff as the Loctite at 3X the cost and harder to find.

There are several other products that have "vinyl cement" or "vinyl adhesive" on their labels but the Loctite works and is cheap and I would keep away from anything else. I've tried PVC cement -- seems like a logical choice since it dissolves PVC, but no, it doesn't really work on vinyl.
I've tried various fabric adhesives from fabric and crafts stores -- they are a definite "no." E6000 -- no. Flex-Seal -- no. Flex-Glue -- no. Gorilla Fabric Glue -- no.

Onward to the backing material.
The Walmart Flannel-Backed Vinyl that I listed back in post # 6 won out over everything else that I tested. It's vinyl -- so the Loctite will melt its surface.
If you go all the way back to the first few pics that I posted in this thread, I was using a blue backing material. That was rip-stop nylon, readily and cheaply available from any fabric store. It works okay, and is slick, and thus very easy to position under the torn seat vinyl. The Loctite sticks to it well, but doesn't really dissolve it.
 
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