Tread replacement for favorite shoes
November 19, 2018 4:40 PM   Subscribe

My favorite pair of shoes can’t handle the amount of walking I do, and the tread on the soles wear out super quick. Instead of buying a new pair of shoes (the top of the shoes are still in perfect condition), I’m Looking for a way to rebuild the tread. There has to be an industrial glue/caulk/construction adhesive/boat anti-slip paint I can apply to the bottom of the worn out sole/tread to give me another few weeks/months of walking, right? I’m thinking something that chemically bonds to the existing sole. Doesn’t have to be pretty, I can use some chopsticks to make a few horizontal lines to serve as treads :-) Any thoughts?
posted by thankyoumuchly to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would take the shoes to a cobbler and have them repaired.
posted by orange swan at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

Yeah you can take them to a cobbler and have them put Vibram soles on them. That is what i have done with lots of different shoes from clogs to engineer boot. Worth the money.
posted by jessamyn at 4:51 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sure you can pay a cobbler, but if you want something easy and WAY cheaper and looks don’t matter:

You can use gorilla glue reinforced with twine. Lay the twine in the pattern of ridges you want, then paste a layer of gorilla glue over it. It will expand and sort of foam as it cures, to a sort of bright brown/yellow/orange shade. It will be stiffer than rubber and less grippy but will be fairly waterproof, have some flex, and shore up the structural integrity. The concept is somewhere between reinforced ripstop nylon and rebar reinforced concrete, but with tough flexi glue as the matrix.

If you wear them hard, this fix may last less than a year, but should give you several months. You can probably re-do it once, maybe twice. You could probably still have a cobbler do it right after this treatment, as long as you avoid any glue on the uppers.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't be too sure about the cobbler. I bought a pair of Ariat boots after wearing Justins for years. I could get 1 or 2 re-solings out of the Justins before the uppers gave out. When I took my Ariats to the local shoe repair place, he told me no dice, he could not re-sole them.
posted by rudd135 at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

In the absence of a nearby cobbler, here are a few DIY hacking options. (Scroll down at last link for how-to using cement and shoe rubber sheeting.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2018

Forgot to add: there are lots of products you could use, I only mention the one I’ve used personally. But whatever you go with, use twine reinforcement, that will make everything work better, reducing cracking, spalling, adding strength and overall integrity. I’d probably favor hemp or nylon, but really any type will help a lot.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2018

Ok, I have never had the opportunity to share this knowledge before. So glad you asked. As an insane and broke college fraternity man, I was able to "resole" my Chuck Taylors. I tried two methods. The latter worked better than the former.

One, I took an old pair of Chuck's, not mine, that still had a decent amount of tread left and cut off the rubber bottoms. I then cut out the strip of my bottoms where they had worn through to my foot. I carefully cut out a replacement from the other shoes and glued them in. I was using rubber cement to fill in the gaps and then pur crazy glue over the whole thing. I got a good month out of that hack.

Two, I had just read about Phil Knight and how he invented Nike using a waffle iron for the tread. I got some old rubber, I think from a bicycle tire but my memory is hazy on that part, and did what Phil did, I melted them into a rubber waffle. I then cut out the shape of the shoe/sole and glued them on. The rubber lasted as long as I could keep the rest of it together. I was constantly using duct tape to hold the whole thing together. I finally just spring for the $21 new Chucks.

If I were doing it today, having seen the Flex Seal commercials, I would get a can of that stuff which appears to be some sort of rubber (when he pours it into a pan and it becomes a big rubber brownie!) and I would try to form a mold the shape of my sole and I would pour that in. There is a suggestion above to use some twine as sort of rebar. I think that makes sense too. I would add some strong twine to it and I would take one of those rubber thin layers Iris Gambol linked to and let it set in the Flex Seal. Then just cut around it and glue it to the bottom of the shoe. Please post pix afterwards.

Flex Seal is your friend here.
posted by AugustWest at 5:54 PM on November 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Shoe Goo is what this skateboarder used extensively throughout his skate-shoe destroying days.
posted by gyusan at 6:42 PM on November 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Shoe Goo has rescued my worn-out slippers and shoes. You can build it up in layers to make ridges or whatever, and the idea of embedded string sounds good.
posted by anadem at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2018

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