How Long Does It Take For Leather To Patina?

how long does it take leather to patina

There’s something simply unique about how leather develops its character through how it patinas. But how long does it take for leather to patina?

Leather can develop patina in ONE WEEK or less provided it sees a lot of use and most factors and conditions that cause patina to develop (such as body oils, sunlight, dust, scratches, etc) is present. While patina will generally happen with time, there are a couple of factors that will determine how long or short it will take for the leather to patina.

For the rest of this article, I’m going to throw some light on the factors that influence the appearance of patina on leather.

What Does Leather Patina Even Look Like?

It’s hard to talk about how long it will take your leather to develop patina if we do not know what patina looks like, the features it has, or what forms it comes in.

Yes! Leather patina will come in different forms. So it’s important to understand these various forms and features of patina.

Chances are your leather might have already developed patina without you knowing.

Here are some of the most common features of patina that appears on leather due to different factors.

Surface Sheen

This is a soft surface shine that appears on the surface of the leather with time. In many cases, this is what most people will refer to when they are talking about leather patina.

The way this soft shine appears on the surface of the leather will be due to how the leather is constantly rubbed or hand-burnished from regular handling.

So what this means is the appearance of patina will usually be around the areas of a leather item that sees a lot of friction.

This will include areas around the handles, edges, base, and for smaller leather items like key chains, billfolds, wallets, etc it’s common to see that shine appearing on the entire surface. This amongst other things causes a surface shine on the leather otherwise known as patina.

Scratches And Scuffs

Scuffs and scratches are also a feature of leather patina. A lot of people love this feature of a leather patina.

From the very first day you use a new leather item, it begins to accumulate scuffs and scratches.

Except in rare cases where you’re always super careful, leather will scuff and scratch and this is one way your leather is going to record your journey with it.

The sharp contrasting marks, scuffs, or scratches that buildup against a darkened shiny leather surface simply gives the leather a unique character that can not be replicated by any machine or person.

So the leather item ultimately becomes a reflection of you and how you have used it over the months or years.

Darkened Leather

The leather Darkening is also another feature of leather patina. This as the name implies is when your leather sees a moderate or significant amount of darkening over a period of time.

This to most leather enthusiasts is a symbol of the leather simply aging and developing a unique character.

It’s one of the most appreciated features when it comes to items made from real leather.

Leather will typically develop patina this way from the dust, body oils being transferred onto them, dye transfer, moisture in the air, etc.

Leather Softening

Another feature of a leather patina is the leather softening with time.

While most people will consider leather patina as a combination of things they are going to see on the surface of the leather, how the leather softens is also a feature of patina.

This will be the case for most leather items. They will simply become softer with time. But this is a lot more common among bigger leather items with no backing like jackets, big bags, to mention a few.

It’s clear that the way leather patina is different and depending on what causative factors are present, a particular feature or form will appear earlier than others.

Related Article: 7 Simple Ways To Prevent Leather Patina

Factors That Determine How Long Leather Takes To Patina

Now that we have taken a look at the various forms of leather patina, now let’s take a look at the factors that determine how long leather will take to patina.

Type Of Leather

How long leather will patina will in many cases depend on the kind of leather used.

First of all, leather patina will exclusively occur on only natural leathers. The twist is not all-natural leather will patina due to the way some leathers are finished.

Natural vegetable-tanned leather that has no dyes or pigments but only natural tannins will show off the best patina over time. 

This is because these types of leather soak everything that they come into contact with.

So anything from body oils, sunlight, moisture, and other factors that promote leather patina will quickly be absorbed into this type of leather.

The natural vegetable-tanned leather will also take up a lot of scratches and scuffs easily throughout its wear.

Another type of leather that will also do great at developing patina is the full-grain leathers with no added dyes and pigments.

When you’re on the market to buy any kind of leather product, the full-grain leather will generally be considered the highest grade of leather.

The best thing about full-grain leather is that not only are they the most durable, but they tend to develop an astounding patina with time and wear.

Sunlight And Other Outdoor Elements

Another factor that determines how long a leather will take to patina is how much sun the leather sees on a regular basis.

The leather’s constant exposure to sunlight will cause the leather to darken nicely into a patina.

The sunlight is also going to oxidize body oils that have been transferred onto the leather causing it to patina with time.

Other outdoor elements like rain, salt (seawater), and other natural oils will bring the leather to a nice golden tone patina.

How Often The Leather Is Used

This is the biggest factor that determines how long a leather will take to patina.

Frequently using the leather is by far the simplest way to develop a patina on leather.

Through frequent use, leather jackets, wallets, bags, and other accessories will pick up marks, scuffs, scratches, sunburns, burnishes, dust, dye stains (from jeans), water splashes, etc that will ultimately come together to create a patina over the surface of the leather.

Also on how often leather is used is how the leather is handled during its use.

If you use you’re the kind of person who tends to be very delicate with leather then it will be quite sometime before the leather begins to develop a patina.

How Often The Leather Is Cleaned And Conditioned

How often you clean and condition leather goods will also determine how long it takes for leather to develop patina.

Regularly cleaning your leather will remove grease, dirt, dust, and body oils absorbed through using the product.

Conditioning the leather will help to keep the leather nourished, protected, and looking new.

If you’re among those who carefully clean and condition your leather accessories after each use, then the appearance of patina will be very gradual and take much longer to develop.

Type Of Leather Finishes And Sealants Used

Last but not least, the use of leather finishes and sealants will also have an effect on the time it takes the leather to patina. 

Usually, leather that has been dyed will need to be finished so that the leather dye does not come off and rub on the user’s hands or clothes. 

What some of these sealants do to the surface of the leather is to add a hard layer of protection and a gloss.

These sealants and finishes in some cases will have water-resistant and UV-resistant qualities to block off any of the sun’s harmful rays, oils, or moisture that would have otherwise caused the leather to patina a bit early into its use.

The sealants and finishes help the leather to retain its new look and maintain a constant appearance for a much longer time without developing patina too quickly.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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