Has the sole started separating from the upper on your favorite pair of shoes? Don’t despair – with a few easy steps and readily available materials, you can often repair shoe sole separation and bring your kicks back to life.
Follow these five simple shoe sole separation fixes:
- Clean the Area Carefully clean the area where the sole is detached from the upper using isopropyl alcohol. This removes any dirt, debris, or old dried adhesive. Thoroughly clean both the shoe upper and sole surfaces that will be rebonded.
- Apply Adhesive After cleaning, apply a flexible adhesive like Shoe Goo or Barge Cement with an old toothbrush. Make sure to cover the entire area where the sole meets the upper, applying adhesive to both parts. Allow the adhesive to become tacky.
- Clamp the Sole Firmly press the sole and upper back together, then use binder clips or clamps around the edges to hold everything tightly in place as the adhesive dries and bonds. Wrap clamps with some cloth to prevent marking the shoe.
- Allow Drying Time Give the adhesive adequate drying time to fully bond and cure – usually 24-48 hours. Resist the urge to try on the shoes during this time.
- Reapply if Needed Carefully remove the clamps and check if there is still any separation. Reapply adhesive and clamp again if needed to reinforce the bond between sole and upper.
There you have it – five easy DIY steps to repair and restore worn footwear with separated soles. With a bit of patience, you can often fix your favorite shoes rather than sending them to the landfill. Just be sure to use strong, flexible adhesives made for shoe repair.
Why Shoe Sole Separation Happens
It finally happened – you glance down one day to find the sole of your favorite shoes is starting to separate from the upper. A peek at the sole reveals cracks, strips of dangling glue, and sections where the sole is visibly detached. Why does shoe sole separation happen in the first place? Read on to learn about the causes and which shoes are most vulnerable.
What Is Shoe Sole Separation?
Shoe sole separation refers to when the midsole and/or outsole starts to detach from the upper part of the shoe. The sole of the shoe is made up of multiple layers which are glued and stitched together:
- Outsole – forms the bottom layer that makes contact with the ground. Usually made of durable rubber.
- Midsole – sits between the outsole and upper, providing cushioning. Often made of EVA foam or polyurethane.
- Upper – forms the top part of the shoe that fits around your foot. Typically made of leather, mesh, synthetics.
These layers are bonded and stitched together. However, over time and wear, these bonds can fail, allowing the sole to separate from the upper. Often the failure begins where the sole meets the upper, but complete separation can occur across large sections or the entire sole.
What Causes Shoe Sole Separation?
Shoe soles can separate for a variety of reasons:
Excessive Wear and Tear
The simple act of walking in shoes leads to flexing, which eventually breaks down the adhesive bonds between sole layers. Soles separate most quickly with athletic shoes worn for high impact sports like running. The repeated heel or toe strikes put immense strain on shoe soles leading to cracking and delamination.
Poor quality craftsmanship often leads to premature shoe sole separation. Weak adhesives that fail quickly, insufficient stitching rather than glue between the sole and upper, and low density EVA foam are common causes. Cheaper shoes typically won’t hold up as well.
Manufacturing defects can cause problems like air bubbles in the sole glue line, preventing a strong bond. Use of brittle sole materials also cracks quickly. Issues like these often lead to consumer complaints about sole separation, even in expensive shoes.
Exposure to Moisture and Heat
Getting shoes wet can degrade water-sensitive adhesives, causing them to soften and lose bonding strength. High heat and arid conditions also dry out shoe glue. Additionally, frequent temperature shifts lead to expansion and contraction which slowly pries soles apart.
Shoes left tightly packed in warm places puts pressure on soles which can contribue to separation issues down the road. Don’t shove shoes tightly together on closet floors or shelves for prolonged periods.
What Shoes Are Most Prone to Separation Issues?
Some shoes are more vulnerable to sole issues than others:
- Running Shoes – The repeated impacts crack midsoles and break glue bonds sooner. Separated soles are very common after 300-500 miles.
- Cheap Shoes – Low cost shoes often cut corners with subpar craftsmanship, glue, and materials resulting in premature separation.
- Old Shoes – Ten years is approaching the max lifespan for many shoes. At around the decade mark, breakdown of sole glues often occurs regardless of make.
- Work Boots – Heavy wear day in, day out on job sites takes a major toll on shoe soles leading to cracking and separation.
- Sandals – Open and exposed sole edges get more wear from friction and also absorb more moisture. Both factors speed up separation.
- Flats – The thin, flexible soles popular on many flats are prone to cracking. The lack of shock absorption also strains glue bonds.
How to Prevent Premature Shoe Sole Separation
You can help minimize sole issues by caring properly for your footwear:
Let Shoes Rest
Rotate multiple pairs of shoes so you aren’t wearing the same ones daily. Giving shoes rests of 24 hours allows moisture to fully dry out and materials to regain shape.
Regularly look over the shoe sole and upper to spot early sole cracks and separation before it gets worse. This allows you to repair issues promptly.
Clean and Condition
Remove dirt that can degrade soles and adhesives. Apply weatherproofing sprays to protect shoes from moisture damage. Lightly condition leather parts.
Keep shoes in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Stuff with paper to retain shape and prevent sole creasing. Don’t overpack tightly into closets or bins.
When separation starts, it often continues to get worse. So act quickly when you spot early sole glue failures to prevent total detachment. With extra care and rotation of everyday shoes, you can maximize the lifespan of your favorite kicks.