How to Replace a Rubber Heel on High Heel Shoes

Do it yourself heel repair. How to fix the heels on a pair of high heel shoes. 3 easy steps for replacing a stemmed rubber heel cap.

Replacing the rubber heel caps on most high heel shoes is one of the quickest and easiest jobs in the shoe repair business. Most women's high heels have a shaped plastic heel with a hollow metal tube in the center. The heel you will use to fix this sort of shoe is going to look like a flat piece of rubber shaped like the bottom of the plastic heel, or like the original rubber heel when it was new. A metal nail will be sticking out of the bottom called a stem. The rubber piece with the stem is called a heel cap, and the shaped plastic is what is commonly referred to as the heel base.

1. Inspect the heels and heel bases.

Put the pair of shoes on a flat surface, with the soles of the shoes facing up.

Inspect for any loose play between where the heel base is attached to the shoe by seeing if you are able to move the hard plastic heel without moving the shoe itself. If the heel is not secured properly, you will have to reattach the heel base to the shoe.

Inspect for any tears or holes on the material covering the heel base. Any pieces that have become delaminated or torn may be re-glued using an all purpose or leather adhesive. The Cobbler recommends Barge All-Purpose Cement or Shoe-goo. This part can get messy and should be done carefully, as many adhesives will change the color or appearance of leather.

! Cobbler Hint - If you wait for Barge or a similar all-purpose cement to dry about a half hour, you can usually peel it off MOST finished leather with minimum damage. Don't rub it in or spread it around though, let it dry untouched for best results.!

Inspect the bottom of the heel. Check if the old rubber cap is still attached. If there isn't any rubber left, look for the top of the stem, which looks like the head of a short, thick, nail. If there is a hole in the bottom of both heel bases where the heel cap used to be, and no stem inside, then skip to step 3.

2. Remove the old heel and stem

! Cobbler Hint - Sometimes it is easier for me to catch the rubber to remove a heel cap, and sometimes it's easier to just remove the rubber completely and deal with the metal stem!

Grip the plastic heel base with one hand. Be careful not to hold the shoe by the sole, because that could weaken the heel base being held to the shoe. Use a pair of pliers to grip the heel cap or stem, twisting slightly from side to side if needed. You must completely remove the old metal stem from the hollow rod in the middle of the plastic.

Make sure to keep the plastic molded heel aligned with the nail that is being removed. If the hollow metal rod in the center of the plastic heel comes out with the old stem, you will have to remove the stem from the rod, and then reinsert the rod using the same method listed below for nailing a new heel in. It is important to note that without this rod the new heel will not stay in, and the plastic could break from lack of support.

3. Securing your new heel caps to the shoes

The stem on your new heel caps should match the old ones. If the stem is to big around it will either not go in, or will probably cause damage when forced in. If it is too small, the new heel will just fall out. The best way to check for length is by putting a nail into the metal pin, and marking how far down it goes. This will tell you if you have to cut the length of the new stem down to fit.

! Cobbler Hint - If the new heel cap has a stem that is too small, you can take up some excess by putting some thread or wood in with the stem to snug up the fit. !

Wedge the stem of the tip of the stem into the hole at the bottom of the heel until snug. Make sure that the heel and the rubber cap are lined up with each other. When the new stem is snug in the opening, grip the shoe like a hammer, with the new heel being the hammers head, and hammer the new heel into place against a hard un-malleable surface like an anvil or concrete step. Check at different stages of hammering, to make sure you are still lined up.

After the new heels are on, the caps that came with the shoes should require no trimming. Trimming the heels yourself without proper training and equipment is not recommended. That part is not always easy.