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01.22.2007

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furniture facelift: 70s lounge chairs part two (vinyl chair repairs) by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1
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repairing vinyl tears
The nice Craigslist woman had been honest from the get-go about the fact that one of the chairs had some tears; indeed, while the white chairís upholstery was in near-perfect condition, the red one had a few cracks in the seat and back as well as a couple of tears on one of the arms. The cracks actually didnít seem that bad to me on first viewing; occurring in the natural creases of the upholstery, they werenít all that conspicuous despite being rather long, about 5Ē or so in length. The nicks on the straight upholstery of the arm, meanwhile, were more obvious but at least fairly small in size. In short, the chair didnít look in too shabby a condition in spite of its upholstery flaws. Nonetheless, when the seller mentioned that a friend of hers had told her that it was possible to repair vinyl, I knew Iíd be looking into the possibility.


As it turns out, you can indeed buy specialized kits to repair vinyl and leather upholstery. The most common is one of those oh-so-sophisticated As-Seen-on-TV products, and runs about $15 or so. Theyíre most commonly found in stores that sell auto accessories and supplies; I ended up finding mine in the auto section of my local Canadian Tire. What that $15 gets you are a bunch of little tubs of goo in a rainbow of basic colors, a spatula and tub for mixing colors, a little packet containing texturing papers and backing material, a metal-tipped heating tool, and a set of instructions. Itís not the most high-tech looking system in the world, but if I were to believe the before-and-after shots on the box cover, I could make my vinyl cracks and tears look good as new Ė in just minutes!

Dutifully, I read through the instructions all the way through before starting. The basic technique looked fairly simple. Before beginning, the first step was to plug in my regular old home iron. While waiting for the iron to heat up, I was to mix up a color to match my upholstery, shove a little bit of backing material behind the fabric tear, and apply a thin, smooth layer of the mixed goo over the tear and backing fabric. The next step was to choose the texturing paper that most closely matched my own upholstery, slap it texture-side down over my gooed-up tear, and tape the paper in place with masking tape. Once that was set-up, it would be time to fire up the metal tool, by holding it against the hot iron for 3-4 minutes or so. With the tool ready to go, the final step would be to rub it in a circular motion over the part of the texturing paper that covered the tear, for about 30 seconds. According to the directions, once the paper had been left to completely cool down, I could then remove it and find a beautifully cured repair, that might or might not need a repeat of the process to cover up small spots that were missed the first time around.

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