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How to Waterproofing Leather Products: Tips and Tricks

How to Waterproofing Leather Products: Tips and Tricks

Posted by The Green Tanners on 22nd Jun 2024


Leather is a highly sought-after material for various leather goods, including leather beltsjackets, and bags, due to its classic elegance and resilient nature. But, it is essential to shield your leather products from the weather to ensure they last for a long time. Leather may be made to last longer and maintain its natural beauty by waterproofing it.

It's important to understand that "waterproofing" is not entirely accurate because leather can not be completely waterproof; it is just water-resistant. Leather is a porous material, which means water, stains, and other elements can easily damage it. 

Leather can become discolored, warped, or even grow mold and mildew without proper care. Using treatments to protect your leather not only keeps it safe from moisture but also from dirt, oil, and UV rays. By treating your leather items, you are helping them last longer and stay looking good.

waterproofing leather, leather products

Different Types of Leather and Their Waterproofing Needs 

Understanding the different types of leather is necessary to match its waterproofing needs. Leather types are unique due to their characteristics. Therefore, they require various treatments. Following the guide can lead you towards better care for your leather goods. 

Full-Grain Leather 

Full grain leather is expensive and high-quality due to its natural look and durability. This sort of leather is not buffed to remove the imperfection and impurities.

Waterproofing Requirements 

  • Make use of premium waterproofing sprays made especially for full-grain leather. Products made with beeswax are also efficient.
  • Before applying, make sure the leather is dry and clean. Make sure to apply the waterproofing chemical and give it enough time to dry in between layers. 
  • Reapply as required or every few months, particularly before being in damp environments.

Suggested Reading: What is full grain leather

Top-Grain Leather 

This kind of leather is regarded as the second best. Its uniform look is achieved via sanding and refinishing to eliminate defects, which sets it apart from full-grain leather.

Requirements for waterproofing: 

  • Leather smoothing creams and sprays are effective waterproofing agents. Avoid the use of dense waxes that may change the finish. 
  • Before using the waterproofing solution, clean the leather carefully. For even covering, use a sponge or gentle cloth. 
  • Reapply as needed every three to four months. 

Genuine Leather 

It is essential to understand that genuine leather is made from the lower layers of the hide and is less durable than full-grain or top-grain leather. It is often treated and dyed to look better. 

Waterproofing Needs:

  • Use all-purpose waterproofing sprays suitable for any leather. Avoid strong chemicals that can damage the surface.
  • Clean and condition the leather first. Apply the waterproofing spray in light, even coats. 
  • Reapply every 2-3 months, if used often or exposed to moisture.

Suede and Nubuck Leather

Suede and nubuck are prepared from the underside of the hide. They are more porous and can easily get damaged by water compared to other types of leather. 

Waterproofing Needs:

  • Use waterproofing sprays explicitly made for suede and nubuck. Avoid using oils and waxes because they can darken or stain the leather. 
  • Brush off any dirt or debris from the leather before spraying. Apply the waterproofing spray in a light, even coat, and let it dry completely. 
  • Reapply the waterproofing every 1-2 months or after the leather gets wet.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is made from leftover scraps of leather that are glued together. It's cheaper and less durable than other types of leather. 

Waterproofing Needs: 

  • Use general leather waterproofing sprays. Be careful with solid products as they might damage bonded leather.
  • Clean the surface gently before applying the waterproofing. Apply a thin, even layer of the spray. 
  • Reapply every few months or as needed, especially if the leather shows signs of wear.

What Are the Different Waterproofing Methods? 

There are several ways to make your leather more water-resistant. The most common method is using wax, like dubbin or Nikwax. Waxing is easy to do on most types of leather. Here's how you can do it:

Suggested Reading: How to Extend the Lifespan of Leather Goods? 

Waxing Method 

  • Make sure the leather is immaculate, as dirt or other materials can reduce the effectiveness of the wax.
  • Put a small amount of wax on a cloth (not directly on the leather) and rub it all over the leather. If the wax is too hard, warm it up with a hair dryer to make it easier to apply. 
  • Repeat this process if needed. Let the wax dry for about 30 to 60 minutes. Do not use heat to speed up drying, which can cause the leather to crack. 
  • Once dry, buff the wax off with a clean, dry cloth.

Conditioning Method

  • Unlike waxing, you should condition leather when it is wet. Wet leather absorbs the conditioner better as the water evaporates. 
  • Put a small amount of conditioner on a cloth or your fingertips and rub it into the leather, covering all the creases and folds. Wipe off any extra conditioner. 
  • Drying the Leather: Let the leather dry naturally at room temperature. However, remember that this method works only for certain types of leather.

Final Word 

Waterproofing leather is easy but indispensable to maintain the beauty and newness of the leather goods. First, you need to understand the type of leather and pick the best product for waterproofing. However, following the best measures can keep your leather goods safe and used for years.