Patent Leather vs. Leather: Differences, Pros, and Cons Explained

leather vs patent leather

Once we start talking about leather, there is no stopping it. There are so many things to say about the precious leather material. So many different types of leather are now being offered. For leather projects, one must know the different uses of all these types to use them properly. Today let us talk about one very important type of leather, i.e., Patent leather.

What is Patent Leather?

Patent leather is most famous for its water-resistant characteristics. When we think of water-resistant leather, the first thing that comes to mind is patent leather. This type of leather is now iconic and a must-have for its brilliance and all-around style. Its name comes from a patent granted by one of his product inventors. It is called patent leather because of its method. The method of its preparation was patented, and thus the name. A smooth, shiny protective layer underneath the leather characterizes patent leather. This surface is polished. This gives the object a uniform appearance. The lacquer layer is at least water-repellent and often waterproof, helping the product last longer. This type of leather is mainly used in the clothes manufacturing industry. The most famous use is in shoes. Formal accessories such as watch straps and belts are also made using this material.

However, patent leather is highly brittle by scratches, not water like other leathers. This material scratches easily and can crack over time as it ages. If you do not maintain it, it will start to ruin. It is the easiest leather to care for, so you do not need to worry. Patent leather has remained popular because you can use multiple colors. It comes in many different colors. The unlimited choice of shapes and colors means you can use it in many projects. This material is not costly and is often much lower than other leather. Originally, patent leather was not as cheap as it is today, it was made of real leather, and the protective layer was made from various oils. The use of synthetic materials lowered production costs. Patent leather made from genuine leather is very rare these days. 

How is Patent Leather Different From Leather?

Patent leather is far superior to leather in terms of water resistance. It is also easy to take care of, has high scratch resistance, and has a wide range of color options. But when it comes to overall durability, breathability, natural smell, and clean and luxurious look, leather is better.

Furthermore, in terms of wrinkle and tear resistance, regular leather is absolutely the best. It’s difficult to give a general answer to this question, as regular leather also varies in quality. Both of these have their benefits. You cannot put one above the other. Each type has its pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Each Type

Now let us look at the pros and cons of both of these materials. We will examine the benefits and drawbacks by examining a few characteristics.


Leather is a highly breathable material. It has the unique property of absorbing moisture from the surrounding air. Moisture penetrates deep into the fibers of the leather, attracting and expelling the dead, stripped sebum to the surface of the leather. This opens the leather’s pores to absorb fresh conditioning oils and allows air to pass through. Breathability is one of the very special properties of leather. It is very difficult to imitate the breathability of natural leather. This property is especially important for shoes, jackets, gloves, and almost any leather product that comes in close contact with the skin. This ability of leather allows it to absorb and release sweat and moisture better than other materials. This is also a great advantage if you are looking for leather car seats and leather furniture.

Breathability depends on the leather type, but leather is always more breathable than patent leather. The surface of patent leather is completely sealed. This seal makes it difficult for sweat to enter.


Both types under discussion look very different visually. Patent leather is the type with a specific coating that gives it a glossy finish. This makes patent leather a more elegant and eye-catching leather material. This key feature of patent leather sets it apart from regular leather. Leather generally has natural grains, blemishes, and very small pores that become visible after animal depilation, i.e., removing the animal’s fur or fur.

Depending on what the leather will be used for, the manufacturer either leaves the leather as full-grain leather or corrects the grain surface imperfections, so the leather has a consistent look and feel. It is often called leather or semi-aniline leather, with minimal modifications. Modified leather may have a significant sheen in the finished coat, but the sheen is still unique when compared to the glass-like finish of patent leather.

Water and Stain Resistant

Regarding leather materials, water and stain resistance are two big issues. However, different leathers react differently to water and dirt. Patent leather, in particular, withstands a more direct battle with water and dirt than regular leather. The glossy surface of patent leather makes it more resistant to all kinds of liquid stains. You should not worry about getting wet in the rain with your favorite leather jacket and shoes. Any moisture, such as water, milk, beverages, etc., will be splashed or usually beaded onto the patent leather. You can wipe it off easily with a damp or dry cloth.

Patent leather offers a solid protective surface against liquid stains, but one of its biggest weaknesses is its ability to transfer color from other materials. Place a patent leather bag or purse near another colored item to allow the paint to transfer. Patent leather doesn’t have to be wet for this to happen; nine out of ten times, it’s irreversible, regardless of temperature. The water and stain resistance of leather is by no means comparable to patent leather, but leather is more tolerant of stains. You can use natural or homemade detergents or products to remove almost any type of stain from leather.

Final Remarks

Considering all the above characteristics, none of the two types is better. Both types have their benefits, and you can use them accordingly. So, with this knowledge, you can choose any leather and get good results.

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