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Nubuck Vs Suede – What’s the Difference?

If you ever get confused between nubuck vs suede then this article is for you.

In this article, we are going to discuss some main differences between nubuck leather and suede so that next time you purchase exactly the right thing.

So the authentic standard leather offers a relatively smooth surface while on the other hand nubuck and suede have a very napped velvet-like finish.

Leather is sanded and buff to give it its signature texture, so suede and nubuck are similar looking. Then they must be the same, right?

The answer is no. Here are a few things that will help you in understanding the differences between them.

So without any further time wasting let’s get started with our very first topic that is, 

What Is Suede?Suede

The underside of a hide is sanded or polished to make suede leather. Place a raw cowhide under a microscope you will be able to see multiple layers of fibers.

“Open” grain structures are found in the innermost layer whereas “Close” and tight grain structures are found in the outermost layer.

Due to the tight and close grain structure, it is much softer and more durable so it will be more expensive. 

The underside of a hide is sanded to create suede. As a result, the knap becomes more “open” and velvety.

The breakdown of fibers and the exposure of open fibers result in leather that is very soft and pliable.

When Should You Choose Suede?

The main origin of Suede’s name is a French term that is “Gants de Suede” it simply means “Gloves of Sweden”.

Whether you know much about Sweden or not you must have an idea about their love for nice velvety texture stuff.

They are responsible for ABBA, popularly referred to as “the velvet of music.”

As you all know that leather is very smooth whereas suede has much more texture so it is extremely fantastic for boots and for the cold and fall season these boots work like magic.

You can style suede shoes with jeans and chinos as they look perfect with casual attire. 

Suede shoes are slightly cheaper than nubuck shoes because bootmakers find them easy to make and for them, it is less difficult to accomplish a soft texture with a lower grade of leather.

The one drawback of suede is that it will be ruined if comes in contact with water so it is extremely important to use water-proof spray on it or it should be treated with a special kind of wax.

This is the reason most suede shoes have water-resistant or water-proof wax applied. 

Suede is not a good material for boots that will often get wet, however. Water can be absorbed more easily because the grain is more open. Water can be absorbed more easily because the grain is more open.

What Is Nubuck?Nubuck

Nubuck and suede are very much the same but the main difference between these two is that nubuck is made by sanding and buffing the upper side of the leather.

The upper side leather is tighter and it has closed grains. In contrast to suede, nubuck has a more pronounced knap.

As nubuck is made from the outermost layer of cowhide which is tighter and has closed grains so it is much more expensive than suede.

Nubuck is compatible with water also. Make sure you know the amount of wax that has been applied before purchasing nubuck boots.

When Should You Choose Nubuck?

As you all know that nubuck has closed and tighter grains that’s why it is more water-resistant. Due to the water-resistant factor nubuck has a high price which is worth it.

If you have a budget for spending a few extra bucks on a good pair of boots then you need to give this one a try as nubuck shoes are a wonderful choice.

But keep in mind that there are some nubuck shoes that are not good enough and they are even worse than suede shoes.

You might be getting fooled if nubuck shoes are offered to you at a low price.

These shoes are mostly above $150 so if you are getting nubuck shoes in such a price range then they will be scratch-resistant and water-proof for sure.

If you think that your shoes will come in contact with water alot then prioritize nubuck shoes over suede shoes.

There are many brands that only use nubuck for their boot manufacturing because this material is water resistant and scratch resistant. It is more durable also. 

Benefits of Nubuck And Suede:Nubuck And Suede

Let’s discuss some amazing benefits of Nubuck and suede:

Benefits of Nubuck:


Compared to all other forms of leather nubuck is the most breathable one. Due to the breakdown of the protein during the splitting process, this material is incredibly breathable. 

Aesthetic Appeal:

The shoes made of nubuck material are aesthetically appealing. They have a velvety smoothness along with a slight knap which gives these shoes a semi-rugged feel. 


The durability of nubuck shoes is not questionable at all because this material is made from the strongest part of cowhide so it will be very durable.

Since it is thicker and more robust, it is ideal for products that are often used, such as nubuck shoes.

If these shoes are damp then they will return to their original color after drying. 

Benefits of Suede:

Luxurious Feel:

Suede shoes give a very luxurious feel because of their smooth surface. They have a very supple and soft feel. 


Suede’s slim, weightless texture allows leather workers to create various accessories using it.


They are much more affordable than nubuck shoes as this material is taken from the innermost part of the cowhide. 

Easy Maintenance:

Suede can be easily protected by applying water and stain repellents. They are extremely easy to maintain. 

Drawbacks of Nubuck And Suede:Nubuck And Suede

Drawbacks of Nubuck:


Nubuck shoes are over price and for some people, they are extremely costly. Their price factor does not allow everyone to purchase these shoes. 

Inferior Elasticity:

As compared to suede, nubuck is tougher and thicker, making it harder to work with.

Prone to Scratches:

In comparison to suede, nubuck is more likely to scratch due to its texture. In fact, this can actually improve the appearance of its relatively imperfection and ruggedness. 

Drawbacks of Suede:


When compared to nubuck, suede tends to be less durable. Material viscosity and grain structure determine this. However, premium suede is still a durable material.


Due to the suede’s porous characteristics, water can penetrate into the material and cause damage. Water can damage suede because of its porous characteristics.

Nevertheless, waxed suede offers both water and stain resistance and is extremely common.

Prone to Collecting Dirt:

In part, this is due to the porous grain structure of suede, which collects dirt and dust. As a result, it needs to be cleaned regularly and treated specifically.

How to Take Care of Suede and Nubuck:Suede and Nubuck

Nubuck and suede also catch alot of dirt same as other types of boots. You can purchase a low-priced suede brush as it will help you alot in getting rid of dirt and mud properly and it will also restore the shoe texture.

Suede and nubuck boots can flatten or create unsightly streaks when they pick up grime and grease.

The use of a brush in these situations will be very helpful. It is possible that you will experience blemishes or stains if you are caught in the rain without waterproofing your shoes before the rain arrives.

You can get rid of these stains and blemishes completely if you use good quality products.

There are many products that are specially made for nubuck and suedes. 

Bickmore Suede & Nubuck Cleaner:

This Bickmore cleaner is one of the best cleaners available in the market. This cleaner was even used by folks. They use this cleaner for sprucing up their dirty suede and nubuck shoes.

You can extend the life of suede and nubuck boots by brushing them on daily basis. But there is no need to condition your boots on a monthly basis until and unless you wear them on a daily basis.

If you wear your nubuck or suede shoes occasionally then all you need to do is lightly brush your boots and use a little amount of cleaner once in six to nine months. 

What Do You Need to Clean Suede and Nubuck Shoes?

If you are not comfortable using such chemical-containing products on your boots then this specific topic is going to be very helpful for you.

Have a look at it, 

Things You’ll Need:
  • Suede or nubuck brush (self-clean sponge is a great alternative).
  • Magic gum.
  • Combi foam.
  • Protecting spray that is suitable for nubuck and suede shoes.

 How To Clean Your Nubuck Or Suede Shoes:Nubuck Or Suede Shoes

Follow the instruction exactly as written.

  • Start your process by brushing the dirt or any other kind of impurity from the hoes using a suede and nubuck brush or a clean sponge.
  • If there are any stubborn stains then it is recommended to use magic gum.
  • Rub the magic gum on those stains properly.
  • Try to be very gentle. If you do this step harshly then there are many chances that your shoes will be ruined.
  • With the nubuck and suede brush, smear the combi foam onto the shoe.
  • Now for cleansing use a soft damp fabric and use it.
  • After cleansing let the shoe dry for at least 4-6 hours.
  • Place dry fabric, paper, or kitchen towel on the shoe.
  • It will help alot in absorbing the water from the shoe.
  • Apply the nubuck and suede protector spray sparingly and evenly from a distance of 30 cm to the shoe and allow it to dry in a well-airy area.
  • Now the last step is to polish the shoe using a soft brush. Be gentle!

Making Your Suede and Nubuck Leather Waterproof:

There are plenty of other brands that make water repellent for suede and nubuck, in addition to Scotchgard, that also work just as well for suede and nubuck.

It is very easy to use all you need to do is spray a suitable amount of spray on your suede or nubuck shoes and let them dry for a couple of hours. This is the primary procedure.

Every product has a distinct procedure for spraying so make sure you check the usage directions before using the product.

The spray-on protector is a much more effective and better solution than using any kind of cream or oil.

Using creams or oils might work for other types of boots but they dont work for suede or nubuck at all.

These oils and creams destroy the overall look of these shoes.

Whether it’s nubuck shoes or suede shoes they both have a very velvety texture. So if we use oil and creams then the texture will be ruined as it will flatten the knap and your shoe will look very old.

The sprays are a great option for protection. These sprays will not destroy the texture of your shoes at all.

The texture of the boot can be restored with a cleaning brush if you’ve used oil by mistake.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Nubuck Water Resistant?

Yes, Nubuck is water resistant and it is more water resistant than suede. But it’s always better to apply an extra layer of protecting spray.

Which Is Better: Suede or Nubuck?

We can’t say, anyone. Both of them have different specialties and drawbacks.

Apart from the price Nubuck is much better as it offers more resistance to water and it looks great too.

Is Suede the Same as Nubuck?

No, not at all. Suede and nubuck have different properties. They do look the same and have very few similar properties but that doesn’t mean they both are the same.

They have different durability levels and much more.

Wrapping It All Up!!

So we have tried our best to let you know the differences between nubuck and suede properly. Hope this article will help you alot in the future. 

If you know any differences between nubuck and suede let us know in the comment section.