Leather can be significantly damaged by water. Though it may seem ironic, the worst thing water can do to leather is dry it out. It’s because of the effect of the water in its material. So, how can you enjoy your leather boots when it suddenly starts raining heavily on a fun day that you have already planned? Some boots are specifically designed to be waterproof but if you aren’t sure if yours are, the great news is that there are easy methods you can follow to waterproof leather boots.
Some of the methods might also be applicable to other leather items like leather shoes and leather jacket. Just remember to care for your leather items after you waterproof them. This is the best way to polish leather.
Why Do You Need to Waterproof Leather?
Aside from not getting your feet wet, there are a few important reasons why waterproofing leather is important. If leather gets wet, it will eventually be damaged if not treated. Water has a great ability to dry the leather out.
The reason for this that leather has oil. This is what keeps the leather material soft and supple. When it gets wet, the water will penetrate the surface of the leather which causes the oil to float on top. Because the oil was removed from the inner layer, the leather dries out and eventually, the surface will start to crack. You may notice cracking on some of your leather clothing and shoes. That means the leather has dried out and one of the main causes is water. Other damages that water can do to leather are staining and stretching. If you see stains on your leather boots or they seem to be looser than before, they might have gotten wet. Water can also cause discoloration of your leather items. This can really cause your leather shoes, jackets, or bags to look old and worn out. They lose their luster and eventually, they become unusable.
So, it’s important that you waterproof leather boots especially if you expect to use it during the wet seasons or if you use your leather for hiking and encounter mud and puddles along the way.
Waterproofing your leather boots will make them suitable for wet environments. Some of the scenarios that you might need waterproof leather boots include hiking and walking in the snow. It’s also just a great idea to be prepared because you never know when it’s going to pour while you’re wearing your much-loved boots.
Steps to Waterproof Leather Boots
Here is what you need to do to waterproof leather boots and make sure they are suitable to wet environments. You would need some waterproofing products which we will feature below and you can choose one according to your preferences.
If your leather boots are new, you have to do some preparation to waterproof them. Before you can waterproof leather boots, make sure that you break your new boots in. Breaking in shoes means wearing them for a bit so they feel comfortable around your feet. A good thing to do is to wear your leather boots and walk around the house. You can also just take them on a short hike but make sure the weather is not bad. Don’t apply any waterproofing treatment on fresh new boots. It could damage the material.
If you are waterproofing an already used pair of leather boots, it’s important that they’re clean before you apply any waterproofing treatment product. You can use a stiff brush to remove dirt and obnoxious mud that has stuck around. There are also specialized leather cleaning tools that you can use.
This step is optional. Some prefer to seam-seal their leather boots before waterproofing them. Seam-sealing is an additional precaution to ensure that your feet remain dry in case your leather boots do get wet. Seam-sealing before you waterproof leather boots can prevent major damages especially in the area where the sole and upper layer meet. You can apply a thin layer of urethane sealant along the seams of your boots that are stitched. You can easily see the stitches on your shoes. A syringe might also be handy when applying sealant to make the process more consistent.
Before you apply the waterproof leather treatment, make sure to remove the laces from your boots if they have laces.
Now you’re ready to waterproof leather boots and apply the treatment. There are several types of waterproof treatment that you can use on your leather boots. The right treatment to use depends on the type of leather boots that you have.
For new leather boots, it’s best to use an oil-based treatment to waterproof leather boots. Oil helps to soften the new leather so it will help you break in the boots faster.
Wax-based leather treatments are best for leather boots with a smooth finish. You should not heat the wax. Simply apply a few thin coats on the leather.
There are also the silicone treatments which usually come in spray bottles. It’s great for protecting both leather and synthetic leather boots. However, the spray types don’t usually last as long as the wax and oil treatments. If you choose to use spray treatments, just remember to reapply it several times especially during rainy seasons.
Let the waterproofing treatment to cure overnight. Leave the boots in an area that is not moist and at room temperature. Wipe off any excess moisture or wax or oil using a lint-free cloth. Do not use a regular cotton towel. Microfiber cloths are great options.
Let the Treatment Soak In
The last step to waterproof leather boots is to let the treatment soak in after leaving it overnight and wiping the excess oils. To do this, put your newly treated leather boots in an area that is exposed to sunlight and make sure that it’s warm enough. Afterwards, your boots should feel smooth. If it’s sticky, that means it has not cured yet.