Faux leather is such a great alternative to real leather if you are vegan or just do not want to wear animal products.
Faux leather mimics a lot of the desired properties of the real thing, but does it mimic the way real leather ages in terms of how it patinas?
In this article, I will share with you a research I did on this topic so you’re at the right place if you’re interested in knowing the answer.
So does faux leather patina? Faux leather will not naturally develop patina due to its non-porous nature and how chemically stable its surface is. However, you can intentionally apply patina to faux leather by distressing it with sandpaper or rubbing alcohol.
As you can see, there is more to this topic so, in the rest of this article, I’ll be sharing with you the details on why faux leather does not patina and everything else about it. Let’s find out together, shall we?
What Is Patina?
Patina generally is a thin shiny overlay that develops or occurs on the surface of natural material and objects such as wood, brass, copper, bronze, etc.
Patina occurs as a result of oxidation or chemical process which often happens naturally.
Patina is something that also occurs on natural leather materials. Patina is used to describe leather that has aged well or leather that has developed character and charm through the years.
Patina occurs over time and has a long-term effect on leather’s appearance due to its ability to develop and change over time.
Patina sometimes makes leather goods even more expensive due to the fact that it’s hard to do intentionally.
Patina gives the leather surface time to age, which makes it look beautiful with character. This is why many people are so interested in patina – they like seeing the object age and show its history.
This is why materials with patina are not usually considered old or broken but rather have a story to tell.
Now that we know what patina is, let’s move on and talk about the details on why faux leather does develop patina.
Reasons Why Faux Leather Does Not Patina
1. Faux Leather Is Not Porous
Real leather is porous, and this allows the material to absorb natural oils from our skin, salts, stains, etc, which later forms a thin shiny layer on the surface of the later which we all call patina.
Faux leather on the other hand is not porous so it does not absorb natural oils from our skin, salts, stains, etc.
This means that faux leather will not develop patina like the way real leather does. Usually what you would get when it comes to faux leather is not patina but rather, all the stains, sweats, or body oil will result in cracks on the surface of the faux leather.
2. Faux Leather Does Not Darken With Time
Apart from real leathers’ ability to absorb natural oils resulting in its patina, leather also becomes richer and darker with time – which is one of the properties or characteristics you will often find in leather that has to develop patina.
The process of leather patina is what keeps our leather shoes, bags, and other items looking better with age.
It also makes high-quality leather products more expensive. Faux leather does not darken with time, it may get lighter or become yellowish.
Faux leather also cracks and fades with time. This is another thing that highlights the reason why faux leather will not patina while leather does.
3. Faux Leather Is Not Natural
Patina is something that usually happens on natural items like wood, leather, cotton, etc. Patina will not occur on plastic or synthetic materials.
Since faux leather is a synthetic material, it will not develop patina. Faux leather is made from different kinds of materials and chemicals, which do not result in a similar process resulting in patina.
These natural surfaces often have a life cycle of their own. For example, the way wood will develop its patina over time will be different from how leather will develop its patina over time.
4. Faux Leather Has Stabilizing Chemicals
This is also another reason why faux leather does not patina like the way natural surfaces do. These stabilizing chemicals may interfere with the natural patina process.
Faux leather is made of different materials and chemicals, which may result in the materials’ surface being almost the same and having a longer life even without much maintenance or care.
There are stabilizing chemicals that allow the faux leather material to maintain its color and shape for a longer time before they begin to crack and fade with their expiration is due.
These chemicals will also prevent the leather from absorbing natural oils from our skin or sweat.
These chemicals are the reason why faux leather does not develop patina. Most of these stabilizing chemicals will also be responsible for your skin itching or experiencing irritation if you use faux leather.
What If You Want To Create Patina On Faux Leather?
In as much as patina will occur as a natural process, it can also be created. These sorts of patina are termed “applied patina”.
This means you can intentionally add patina to new leather items, fake, or faux leather items by distressing them.
There are products that you will use to create patina on faux leather, but the process is not as rewarding as the patina that is achieved on natural leather with time.
Patina can be created using several methods such as scrubbing, sanding, and applying chemicals.
Apart from creating a faux leather patina in the above-mentioned ways, you can also use paint and gilding to give your fake or faux leather items a more antique look.
However, it is important to note that these methods are not as rewarding or natural-looking as the way real leather patina over time.
Using Sand Paper
You can use fine-grit sandpaper to distress the surface of your faux leather making its surface appear to have developed patina. Here’s how you do it;
- 150 grit or 200 grit Sandpaper
- Use a very light back-and-forth stroke on the surface of the faux leather item with 150 or 200 fine-grit sandpaper.
- Be as gentle as possible as sanding too hard can leave scratches on your faux leather item.
- Flip the sandpaper over and use the other side of it, but be sure to keep an eye on the color of your faux leather while you sand.
- Sand around the edges or seams of the faux leather item as those are the areas that will naturally wear.
- Continue until you achieve the desired amount of distress and patina.
Using Rubbing Alcohol
Another way to distress your faux leather items is by using rubbing alcohol. You can either use a cotton ball or Q-Tip for this method, but if you want to achieve an antique look, use a cotton ball.
- Rubbing Alcohol (70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol)
- Microfiber Cloth, Cotton Ball, or Q-Tip
- Old Toothbrush
- Mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water in a bowl or spray can.
- Soak the cotton ball or Q-tip in the rubbing alcohol solution. You will need to soak it until the cotton ball or Q-tip is no longer absorbing any more of the liquid.
- You can also spray the rubbing alcohol solution on the parts of the faux leather you would want to patina or distress directly and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Now begin to scrub certain parts of the faux leather using either an old toothbrush or sponge.
- Repeat the process until you achieve the desired patina, but be very gentle as to not damage your faux leather item.
- Continue until you get your desired patina.
Those who appreciate patina and antique items may not like the idea of faux leather and how it does not patina naturally over time.
However, you can always create a faux leather patina by sanding or distressing the surface of your faux leather items.
What is more important is that you do it according to your taste and preference so that you can truly enjoy your faux leather items.
You should also note that creating patina on faux leather is not as rewarding or natural-looking as the way real leather patina over time.