Is Nubuck Leather Waterproof? (How to Waterproof)

Leather has always been a popular choice for its durability and timeless appeal. Among the different types of leather, nubuck leather stands out for its unique texture and luxurious appearance. However, one common concern that arises when it comes to nubuck leather is its resistance to water. In this article, we will explore the question, “Is nubuck leather waterproof?” and provide insights on how to waterproof this delicate material.

1. Introduction

Nubuck leather, known for its velvety surface and smooth touch, is a type of top-grain leather that has undergone sanding or buffing on the outer side of the hide. This process creates a soft, suede-like texture, which gives nubuck leather its distinct appearance. However, due to its delicate nature, nubuck leather requires proper care and maintenance to preserve its quality and protect it from various elements, including water.

2. Understanding Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather is made from the top grain of the hide, which is the outermost and most durable layer. Unlike full-grain leather, nubuck leather is sanded or buffed to create a soft and fuzzy texture. This unique texture sets nubuck leather apart from other types of leather and gives it a refined and elegant look.

3. The Water Resistance of Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather, in its natural state, is not completely waterproof. It has inherent porosity, which means that it can absorb water to some extent. When exposed to moisture, nubuck leather may darken, become stained, or lose its original texture. However, the level of water resistance in nubuck leather can be enhanced through various methods, including waterproofing.

4. Factors Affecting Water Resistance

Several factors influence the water resistance of nubuck leather. The type of tanning process used, the quality of the leather, and the presence of protective coatings can all affect how well nubuck leather repels water. Additionally, external factors like the intensity and duration of exposure to water can also impact the leather’s water resistance.

5. How to Waterproof Nubuck Leather

To make nubuck leather more resistant to water and protect it from potential damage, waterproofing is a recommended step. Waterproofing products specifically designed for leather can create a protective barrier that repels water, preventing it from seeping into the leather fibers.

6. Step-by-Step Guide to Waterproofing Nubuck Leather

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to waterproof nubuck leather effectively:

Step 1: Clean the Leather

Before applying any waterproofing product, ensure that the nubuck leather is clean and free from dust, dirt, or stains. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove any debris from the surface.

Step 2: Test the Product

Before applying the waterproofing product to the entire leather surface, perform a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area. This test will help determine if the product alters the color or texture of the leather.

Step 3: Apply the Waterproofing Product

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the waterproofing product evenly to the entire nubuck leather surface. Use a sponge, cloth, or spray applicator to ensure thorough coverage. Pay special attention to areas that are more prone to water exposure, such as seams and edges.

Step 4: Let it Dry

Allow the waterproofing product to dry completely. Avoid exposing the leather to water or moisture during this time. Drying times may vary depending on the product used, so refer to the instructions provided.

Step 5: Reapply if Needed

For optimal water resistance, it may be necessary to reapply the waterproofing product periodically. The frequency of reapplication will depend on factors such as usage, exposure to water, and the product’s durability.

7. Additional Tips for Maintaining Nubuck Leather

Aside from waterproofing, there are other essential tips to keep in mind when maintaining nubuck leather:

  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight, as it can cause fading or discoloration.
  • Use a soft brush or specialized nubuck cleaning cloth to remove surface dirt and restore the texture.
  • Store nubuck leather items in a cool and dry place to prevent mold or mildew growth.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents that can damage the leather.

Also Read: How to Clean a Leather Jacket In Just 7 Easy Steps


While nubuck leather is not inherently waterproof, it is possible to enhance its water resistance through proper care and waterproofing. By following the step-by-step guide mentioned above, you can effectively protect your nubuck leather items from water damage and preserve their beauty for years to come.


Q1: Can I use regular leather waterproofing products on nubuck leather?

A1: It is advisable to use waterproofing products specifically designed for nubuck leather. These products are formulated to protect the delicate texture and appearance of nubuck leather without altering its original qualities.

Q2: How often should I waterproof my nubuck leather items?

A2: The frequency of waterproofing depends on several factors, including usage and exposure to water. As a general guideline, consider reapplying the waterproofing product every six months or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Q3: Can I remove water stains from nubuck leather?

A3: Water stains on nubuck leather can be challenging to remove. It is best to consult a professional leather cleaner or follow specific instructions provided by the manufacturer of the leather item.

Q4: Is nubuck leather suitable for outdoor use?

A4: Nubuck leather can be used outdoors, but it requires extra care and maintenance. Waterproofing and regular cleaning are essential to protect it from water, dirt, and other environmental elements.

Q5: Can I wear nubuck leather in rainy or snowy conditions?

A5: While nubuck leather can withstand light exposure to water, it is not recommended to wear it in heavy rain or snowy conditions. Extended exposure to moisture can compromise its water resistance and overall quality.

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