Faux leather is a fancy name for fake leather. It’s usually made not only as an alternative to real leather but also to imitate the features of real leather. However, you will often have faux leather still looking fake and cheap. So in this article, I’m going to share with you 7 very easy ways to make faux leather look like real leather.
So how do you make faux leather look like real leather? Here are 7 ways to make faux leather or fake leather look real:
- Remove Or Decrease The Shine On Your Faux Leather
- Texturize Your Faux Leather
- Create Creases And Folds On The Faux Leather
- Expose the Faux Leather To Dirt And Dust
- Sand The Faux Leather
- Soften The Faux Leather
- Use The Sandpaper Plus Nail Polish Remover Method
In the remaining parts of this article, I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to use the above-mentioned methods to make faux leather look like real leather.
A lot of the methods I’m going to show you can be combined. But you can as well simply apply the method that is suitable for the kind of real leather look you’re after. Let’s get into it!
1. Remove Or Decrease The Shine On Your Faux Leather
While some real leathers like patent leather are specially finished to have a high gloss finish on its surface, majority of the real leather you will come across will often have a nice subtle sheen.
While a few of the high-end faux leather producers are able to replicate this exact quality of real leather, most of the common faux leather goods are usually too shiny.
I have on several occasions picked out a nice piece of a faux leather bag, shoes, jacket, etc, and have wonder to myself “does the shine give away the quality of the leather?”
So I found that one of the easiest and efficient ways to make faux or fake leather real is by taking off, if not all, some of the shine on the surface of the faux leather item.
Doing so will help to give your faux leather items an aged and antique look that will be similar to that of real leather.
The exciting part is you can do this using very cheap inexpensive items – which you may already have on your shelves at home.
There are a couple of ways to remove the shine from the surface of faux leather such as using nail polish remover, super fine-grit sandpaper, and even abrasive cleaning wipes.
For me using any acetone based prduct on faux leather is a bit much. Also having to sand the entire surface of the faux leather to remove its shine is simply a lot of work, and the abrasive wipes technique takes too much time and causes a lot of fatique.
However, if you have some time on your hands and want to massively distress your faux leather to look like real leather, then I have a technique that is pretty ninja – that is Method 7 of this article)
This method will do a bunch of cool things like removing the shine of the faux leather and also introducing some cool fine textures.
Personally, the method I find a lot more beginner-friendly which also has the best results is using rubbing alcohol to remove the shine from the surface of the faux leather.
I find it very effective at removing the shine off the surface of faux leather and here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how you can use the rubbing alcohol method to make faux leather look real.
Related Article: Is Baby Oil Good For Faux Leather?
The Rubbing Alcohol Method
Using rubbing alcohol on faux leather is one of the simple ways to make your faux leather look like real leather. Here’s what you need and the steps to follow.
- Microfiber Cloth
- Rubbing Alcohol
Load your microfiber cloth or lint-free rag with a liberal amount of rubbing alcohol.
Ensure the rag is damp.
Begin to rub the dampened microfiber cloth over the surface of the fake leather.
You would want to visually demarcate the entire leather item into portions and rub each portion at a time so that you are able to cover the entire surface as thoroughly as possible.
You will also want to maintain a circular motion as you clean the faux leather with the rubbing.
Pro Tip: When wiping down the surface of the leather with rubbing alcohol, you would want to continuously dampen your applicator (rag or cloth) with the rubbing alcohol from time to time so that the application is as even as possible.
Once you have completely rubbed the surface of the leather with the rubbing alcohol, use a piece of clean dry rag to clean off any excess rubbing alcohol on the surface of the faux leather.
Last but not the least, leave the faux leather to air dry for a couple of minutes.
Rubbing alcohol will typically dry under a minute and you would be ready to move on to the next step.
A drying time longer than 2 minutes will mean the leather has been over-dampened.
After carefully following these steps, the shine should be gone with your leather looking a real high-quality leather.
Related Article: 5 Simple Ways To Remove Rubbing Alcohol Stains From Leather
2. Texturize Your Faux Leather
You can add a few textures to your faux leather so that it looks like the real deal.
Faux leather producers often add textures to the faux leather materials they produce.
In many cases, these faux leathers will look and feel like real leather due to how well some faux leather manufacturers try to immitate real leather.
But if you take a closer look at the patterns and textures placed on most faux leathers in an attempt to make it look like real leather, you will notice they are usually very organized and unnatural.
No real leather looks the same. They always come with a unique characteristic that is synonymous with a particular animal, the kind of lifestyle it had, and the environment it lived in.
So what you will need to do is to add or create some textures on your faux leather to break the unnatural patterns or textures placed on the leather by the manufacturers.
This can to a large extent help make your faux leather have the rich luxurious look and feel of natural leather.
There are a lot of techniques you can use to put textures on your faux leather.
A few of the common ones are the burning or heating up textures onto the faux leather using a regular iron or soldering iron, and tin foil.
But one common fact is, most faux leathers are made of vinyl and other plastics.
And although the burning or heating techniques tend to give faux leather some cool and interesting textures, I find applying heat to vinyl or plastics materials not only wrong but also very unhealthy due to the kind of fumes that will emit.
So my go personal go-to which I find a lot more safer and also very easy to use is a method I have named “Alcohol Pouring” and here’s how to go about it.
The Alcohol Pouring Technique
This technique of texturing leather so that it looks like real leather is pretty ninja but totally beginner-friendly and easy to do using very easy-to-get items around the home.
The best part of this method is that you will be able to use it on any type of faux leather material.
Let’s take a look at all you will need and a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Acrylic Paint (Preferably Angelus Leather Paint)
- A Spray Can
- Sponge or Brush
Choose a nice earth color from your acrylic paint set. This will usually include colors like the tint or shade of brown.
These colors will work best because they’re the colors most natural leather come in.
Load your spray-can with some rubbing alcohol
Mix a very watery or thin consistency of acrylic paint using water. Mix just about enough to cover the entire surface of the faux leather so that you don’t have any leftovers.
You can test the consistency on a piece of paper. You should be able to see through the paint application.
After you have mixed the acrylic paint, load up your sponge with the thin acrylic mixture and paint over the surface of the faux leather.
Make sure the application is as runny as possible.
Due to the very thin consistency, the paint application will look like a watercolor wash.
While the acrylic paint is still wet on the surface of the faux leather, splatter the rubbing alcohol on the surface of the faux leather from the spray can.
The tiny little drops of the rubbing alcohol will allow the acrylic paint to spread and run – creating a dirty or vintage look of a real leather
Repeat steps 4 and 5 if necessary.
Leave the application to dry gradually.
The kind of texture you will create with this technique is simply amazing and you will be able to achieve the vintage ragged look of real leather.
Related Article: 5 Simple Ways To Remove Rubbing Alcohol Stains From Leather
3. Create Creases And Folds On The Faux Leather
One of the qualities of real leather is how it easily wrinkles and creases when used. Some real leathers will come already wrinkled and can be quite an awesome feature of real leather.
If you have faux leather and would like to add a real leather look and feel to it, you can intentionally create creases and folds on the faux leather so that it imitates the look of real leather.
Here are a few tips on how to put creases and folds on faux leather so that it looks like real leather.
- The way you achieve creases and folds on faux leather items is by using the faux leather item as frequently as possible and not paying special attention to storage.
- Throw all the best practices you know about storing leather items out of the window.
- You can bend, fold, and crease the faux leather item roughly when not in use.
- The creases and folds that form and buildup on your faux leather will give it the look and appearance of a heavily worn real leather item.
Related Article: 4 Easy Ways To Safely Remove Creases From Faux Leather
4. Expose the Faux Leather To Dirt And Dust
Real leather is known to last years and years especially if it’s cared for and well maintained.
A lot of people will often associate a ragged-looking piece of leather with something sort of a vintage leather item.
In some instances, such a ragged look will be instinctively considered a quality of real leather and a phenomenon known as patina – which is an accumulation of all the wear and tear that builds up on a piece of leather item over a couple of years.
Related Article: 7 Simple Ways To Prevent Leather Patina
So introducing your leather to a little bit of dirt and dust can help give your leather a nice patina comprising scuffs, scratches, stains, and grim.
Related Article: How Long Does It Take For Leather To Patina?
So here are a few tips and tricks you can use;
- Put your leather item to serious use without holding back.
- Use your faux leather items constantly whether it’s an item of clothing, shoes, or even bags.
Doing this as often as possible will help speed up the wear on your faux leather items and give it natural wear spots. Your faux leather will generally look a lot less synthetic and give it a more leather-like look.
5. Sand The Faux Leather
Rubbing fine-grit sandpaper to the surface of the faux leather is another simple way of eliminating a lot of the synthetic qualities of faux leather while introducing a few qualities that would make the faux leather look real leather.
What’s key is using very fine-grit sandpaper so you do not rip your faux leather apart.
The sandpaper you will usually want to get for this method is usually around 150 or 200 grit.
In addition to picking the right grit size of sandpaper, you would also want to ensure you apply a very gently back and forth motion.
What you will want to aim for is sanding only the thin plastic layer that is always placed on the surface of faux leathers.
Tip: Sanding the faux leather with too much pressure or intensity can reveal layers of the faux leather that can cause the leather to look less real.
You would also want to focus the majority of your sanding around areas of the faux leather item that will typically get distressed from use. This will often include areas such as edges, seams, handles, sleeves, cuffs, etc.
6. Soften The Faux Leather
Real leather usually has a soft natural feel. This is one of the important qualities of natural leather that make us all enjoy its use so much.
While there are a few high-grade faux leathers that have their softness very similar to that of real leather, chances are the type of faux leather you might have may bear no resemblance to real leather.
If your faux leather is one of those types of faux leathers that is rigid feeling, then tenderizing it can make it soft or supple to touch like real leather.
Related Article: 5 Easy Ways To Soften Leather After Dying
There are a couple of things you can try to help make your faux leather soft so that it has the luxurious softness of real leather.
- One of the easy things you can try out is to beat the leather with a meat tenderizer.
- You can repeat this a couple of times until you begin seeing improvements.
- You can also roughen the faux leather with the rough surface of the meat tenderizer. This can add some textures to the surface of the faux leather for a natural look.
7. Sandpaper Plus Nail Polish Remover Method
The sandpaper plus nail polish remover technique of making faux leather look like real leather is a very robust approach.
Most nail polish removers contain acetone which is usually a tough thing for any type of leather to handle.
Nontheless, when carefully combined with a fine-grit sandpaper, it’s certainly one of the best ways to distress and age faux leather so it looks like real leather.
Here are the things you need to carry it out and how you would go about it.
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- A piece of clean rag
- Nail Polish Remover
- 150 or 250 Grit Sandpaper
Dampen your rag with the nail polish remover. You can either pour the nail polish remover on the rag or pour it in a bowl and then dip your rag into it wring it out.
Now wipe the surface of the faux leather with the dampened rag.
As soon as you’re done rubbing the surface of faux leather, begin sanding the surface.
While the sandpaper takes off the luster from the surface of the leather, the nail polish remover will help to darken the faux leather giving it a distressed and aged look similar to that of real leather.
You can repeat step 3 until you achieve the kind of effect of your choice. However, applying step 3 only ones will always work like magic.