Is Leather Waterproof? Or Water Resistant?

The term "water resistant," indicates that the material has some natural ability to resist water penetration, but it is not completely waterproof. This guarantees protection from light rain, though it may struggle with heavier downpours. Alternatively, waterproof materials can be formulated to endure water immersion without any damage. Waterproof material has a limited lifespan when fully submerged in water.

The leather does not dissolve easily in water. Although it does have some water resistance, the leather will still get wet in large amounts (since the material is porous) and then dry out hard, losing its lovely soft feel. Rot is a real possibility if the leather takes too long to dry.

Because of its porous nature, leather can never be entirely waterproof, mainly when left untreated and allowed to age. Nevertheless, there is a sure way to treat leather that will make it last longer and more waterproof.
Sprays and treatments can increase leather's water resistance.

Methods to increase Leather’s water-resistance

You may make your leather more water-resistant with one of the several treatments available. Waxing, by far, is the most common method for this therapy. As you can see from the procedure below, waxing is a straightforward technique that works for most kinds of leather.

Waxing Method:

  1. Ensure the leather is clean since dirt or other elements might reduce wax efficacy.
  2. Use a small amount of wax on a cloth instead of directly on the leather, and gently work the mixture into the leather.
  3. Repeat the process if needed.
  4. Dry the wax for 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Use a clean and dry cloth to wipe.

Regularly conditioning leather is essential for maintaining its suppleness, just like waxing it. If you see it getting hard or cracked, now is the moment to condition it. Your leather will feel like new, and it will also help keep it watertight.
Waxing is as easy as conditioning. To keep the leather at the proper degree of stiffness, avoid over-conditioning it; this is especially crucial for products that require structure, such bags or boots.

Conditioning Method:

  • Apply a small amount of conditioner to leather using a cloth or fingertips.
  • Let the leather air dry overnight if possible.

This process of conditioning and waxing is only effective on specific types of leather, so keep that in mind. Applying wax on suede or any similar material can permanently damage the fabric.

Types of leather with their degree of water-resistance

There are several situations where a specific spray is required. Particularly useful for suede, which is less water-repellent than other leathers, suede provides an invisible barrier that prevents water and oil from hitting the cloth, protecting your leather. The degree to which various types of leather are waterproof varies.

Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather is often lighter and less expensive than genuine leather, yet it rapidly absorbs water like natural leather. This implies that to make it waterproof; you must apply a synthetic spray that forms a waterproof barrier between the water and the synthetic layer.

Faux Leather

It is a widespread assumption that faux leather would have the same qualities as real leather; however, because it is comprised of a form of plastic called polyurethane, it has extremely different waterproofing requirements. Waterproofing leather involves placing a layer of synthetic plastic between it and any water. Faux leather is waterproof since it is already created from plastic.

Suede leather

Water quickly damages Suede, leaving stains on its surface. Even a rain shower may destroy suede boots. However, due to Suede's sensitivity, you must exercise caution when waterproofing it, as anything like wax cannot be rubbed. On the other hand, Suede requires a waterproofing spray and should not be exposed to large amounts of water.

Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather is a buffed-down variant of full-grain leather that looks like an excellent yet durable suede. Like leather, nubuck is inherently water resistant to a limited amount of water but requires further waterproofing with a spray.

Top grain and full grain leather.

Full-grain leather, also called top-grain, is derived from the best parts animal hides.
The usual bulk of bags are constructed of full-grain leather, which provides natural water resistance. However, if you want to improve this further, try using a wax-based product. Use only a waterproof spray with vintage cognac items.
Remember that you should always patch-test a new leather care product on an inconspicuous section of the leather before using it all over, as certain products may alter the leather's color and texture in ways you do not like.