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Aging Leather: How to Age Leather

Aging Leather: How to Age Leather

We all know leather is beautiful. Likewise, its beauty gets even better as it ages. But why does leather become as beautiful as it ages? And how does leather actually age? In this article, you will know what makes leather beautiful. Plus we will show you the two methods on how to age your leather.

aged leather briefcase
The Welch Briefcase

What is Patina: For Dummies

What makes leather so beautiful? The answer is leather patina. In this article, however, we will only be talking about leather patina briefly since the focus of this article is on how to age the leather. If you wish to learn more about leather patina you can click on the link below. The link will redirect you to another page with an in-depth discussion on the leather patina.

What Is Leather Patina?

Now for an overview of leather patina.

Basically, the patina is the outcome of the aging process of leather. It is the slow change that develops within the leather at the surface level. It is however visible only to high-quality real leather such as top-grain and full-grain leather. Likewise, because of its beauty, some consider the leather patina as a hallmark for owning high-grade leather. Therefore, leather is not only desirable for its durability and strength but for the vintage aesthetic, it brings as well.

Talking about leather patina is essential on how to age leather. This is because leather patina is basically the outcome when it comes to leather aging. While there is one outcome, there are however several methods to achieve it. Let us find out what these methods are.

aged leather briefcase
The Welch Briefcase

How To Age Leather: The Traditional Way

Basically, aging leather the traditional way is very simple but very demanding. It is simple because you do not have to do much. It is however demanding because you have to wait for so long to age leather and get the results.

Is it that simple?

Yes, it is that simple. You simply have to use the leather the way you would use it every day. This is because frequent use of leather will expose it to different elements. These elements will help breakdown the leather. This will induce change and give the leather that vintage look. For example, frequently using a leather bag will expose it to different elements such as sunlight. Natural oils also contribute to the natural aging process of the leather.

Exposing leather however to different elements will likely lead to different outcomes on the patina. For example, frequently exposing your leather to direct sunlight or heat will cause a change different from when it is frequently exposed to rainwater. Sunlight will likely give the leather a golden tone as it ages. Rainwater or seawater on the other hand will likely leave splash marks on the leather’s surface. Meanwhile, natural oils in the leather are likely causing the leather to have dark patches. Sometimes, however, these patches are just from unclean stains.

“Patience you must have, my young padawan”

The traditional way is demanding because it requires a long time. Such that it takes great patience to see the results of aging. It is however something worth the wait. Moreover, cleaning and taking care of leather is important in the aging process of leather. This is because leather like any organic product will breakdown as time passes by. Therefore, it is important to take care of it to see the results. More importantly, is to condition your leather. Conditioning your leather will nourish the leather fibers and keep them strong and flexible.

To conclude, the traditional way to age leather will force you to clean and maintain your leather from time to time. However, as time passes all that effort will be worth it.

aged leather backpack
The Thorsen Backpack

How To Age Leather: Distressing Leather

There are however some people who are not the type to sit around and wait... and wait... and wait until the leather ages. That is why there is a shortcut for those who are not in the mood to wait. This method is to distress leather. This alters the leather’s surface, thus creating that vintage and used leather look.

Important Reminder!

This process is to distress the leather and not to destroy it. Therefore, while we are trying to change the leather’s surface by abusing it, we are in no way trying to destroy it. So distress your leather with care!

Moreover, this process only works for high-grade leather such as top-grain and full-grain leather. Distressing low-grade leather such as genuine leather will probably damage the leather in the process. Likewise, faux leather or PU leather cannot be distressed.

How To Distress Leather

To distress leather you will need the following things:

  • Rubbing Alcohol (preferably 90% rubbing alcohol)
  • A spray bottle
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Leather Conditioner
  • A heavy bristled brush
  • Dry Dirt (optional)

Dampen The Leather With Alcohol

So the first step is to apply the alcohol to the leather. You can use a cloth or a brush to apply the alcohol. Although we prefer to use a spray bottle. Only lightly mist the leather with the alcohol. Make sure not to drench it with alcohol we are only aiming to dampen it. This will dry out the leather and help give the leather a weathered look.

Give The Leather A Rough Massage

While the leather is still damp with alcohol give it a massage. Crease it, crumple it, knead it, and beat it up if you have to. This will give the leather some lines and folds on the surface.

Rub The Leather With Sandpaper

Next is to sand your leather. Make sure you use fine-grit sandpaper! Rub the sandpaper around the areas where it would appear most abused or distressed. For example, for leather bags, you can focus on the bottom of the bags and its corner. It is also important to take a break from sanding and check your progress. Make sure not to sand too much of the leather. Additionally, you can apply a leather conditioner to the leather after you are done sanding it.

Brush The Leather With A Heavy Bristled Brush

If you want your leather to look more distressed you can give it a quick brush. Use the brush the same way you sanded the leather on the previous step.

Give The Leather A Bit Of Dusting

If you want to add a dusty appearance to your leather throw some dust on it. You can throw some dust, dirt, or even sand to add some style. Once you are satisfied with the look brush off the excess dust, dirt, or sand.

Voila! You have successfully aged your leather.

aged leather duffel bag
The Dagny Weekender