It can be disappointing when the sole starts separating from the upper of your favorite shoes. Rather than tossing them out, it is possible to reattach the sole with the right adhesive and techniques. Gluing the sole back on properly can restore worn footwear to functioning order again.
Causes of Detaching Soles
The sole can come unglued for a few common reasons:
- Inferior construction or materials – Shoes made poorly may fail quicker at the midsole.
- Excessive wear – Soles separating at midfoot indicate shoes worn past their limits.
- Improper fit – Heels slipping up and down as you walk strain the bond over time.
- Exposure to moisture – Water can degrade the adhesives and cause the sole to detach.
- Lack of rotation – Wearing the same pair daily doesn’t allow them to fully dry out between uses.
Prep and Cleaning
Before regluing, prepare the shoe:
- Remove old dried adhesive with a scraper and sandpaper. Buff smooth.
- Thoroughly clean the sole and upper with a cloth and rubbing alcohol. Remove dirt and oil residue.
- Lightly scuff the surfaces to be bonded with sandpaper. This helps the glue adhere.
- Stuff the toe with paper or rags to hold its shape during drying.
Choosing an Adhesive
Use a flexible shoe glue like Barge cement or E6000 that remains pliable when cured. Avoid super glues that dry rigid and brittle.
Glue Application Tips
- Apply a thin, even coat of glue to both surfaces. Let dry 5-10 minutes until tacky.
- Press the sole and upper together firmly starting at the toe and moving towards the heel. Smooth out air pockets.
- Clamp the shoe tightly or place heavy objects on top to keep pressure as the bond sets overnight.
- Remove clamps and stuffing once fully cured. Trim any excess dried glue for a smooth look.
- Allow 24 hours for the repaired sole to fully harden before wearing the shoes again.
With the right preparation and adhesive, a separating sole can be fixed at home. Follow up gluing periodically with shoe polish or sealant to ensure the repaired bond remains intact. Though still not as durable as original construction, a little DIY shoe surgery can extend the life of well-loved footwear.