Suede vs Nubuck - Differences Explained

Suede vs Nubuck - Differences Explained

What's the difference between suede & nubuck leathers?

Posted at 11:00 • 2 Mar • 2018 • Brady S

Suede and nubuck seem similar but are distinctly different. What's the difference and how should you care for the two materials?

Suede and nubuck leathers are both softer and 'fuzzier' than traditional smooth leathers and are most commonly used for footwear and accessory products. The fuzzy nap that is found on suede and nubuck leathers is appears due to the fact that both suede and nubuck are crafted by sanding leather hides to remove the top layer of material.

However, there is a key difference between the two materials. Suede is crafted by sanding or rubbing the inside layer of the leather hide. Nubuck is crafted from the sanded outside layer of the leather hide.

The outside layer of the leather hide tends to be much thicker, sturdier, and durable. This means that nubucks tends to be slightly less soft to the touch but much more durable. The added durability and toughness makes nubuck perfect for footwear applications.

The inside layer of hide that is used to make suede leathers tends to be supple soft and thin. Suede is therefore considered to be a very luxurious product that is great for next-to-skin applications such as gloves and higher end footwear.

For enthusiastic suede fans

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed - Taupe Suede (Narrow Width) - 951303 - Angle

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Cleaning and Protecting Suede & Nubuck

Despite their differences, suede and nubuck can be cared for with very similar methods. Suede tends to have longer nap (fuzziness) and is a bit softer which does mean that it is a more delicate material and should be cared for accordingly. Both materials can stain easier than smooth leathers. However, if you care for suede and leather properly they can be very durable and long wearing. Below are the do's and do not's of suede and leather care. Follow our advice and you can be enjoy your favorite suede and nubuck products for many years to come!


  1. Spray your suede or nubuck products with a silicon based water & stain protector such as Ralyn Aquatec. We reccomend spraying the product when you first purchase it then let it dry for about 15 minutes and spray again. Clean and spray every few months after your first wear.
  2. If you get small stains, scuffs, or dirt on your suede or nubuck products then use a dry cloth and try to remove the product by gently rubbing. Follow this with a damp cloth
  3. Suede and nubuck cleaning kits are also available from many sources. We reccomend the Fiebing’s Suede & Nubuck Cleaner Kit.
  4. Be gentle when cleaning and caring for your suede and nubuck shoes and accessories


  1. Try to avoid getting your suede and nubuck products soaking wet. Getting these product wet and drying them quickly shouldn't cause harm but repeated exposure to liquids is likely to cause harm.
  2. Do not use leather creams, oils, lotions, polishes, or waxes on suede and nubuck products. The products are likely to stain your suede and nubuck products.