Nubuck vs Suede – What’s the Difference

Are you planning on buying a brand new pair of leather boots but lack the knowledge or expertise to make an informed decision? If yes, then we have got you covered!

Choosing leather boots can be tricky as it has different types like nubuck and suede. Even if you are not a leather expert, it is easy to distinguish between the three due to their textures.

Leather has a smooth texture, while the nubuck and suede have a softer and fuzzier feel. But besides the surface, several factors can help in differentiating between nubuck and suede. If you wish to avoid having a terrible time deciding between the two, read along and learn their characteristics.



How is Suede Made?


Even though the term “suede” comes from a French word that means “gloves from Sweden,” it has transcended into meaning a type of leather with a napped surface.

As leather is made from animal hide, suede is made from the animal skin’s underside. It is separated from the top, making it a thinner and softer leather.

It is also considered to be split leather. Interestingly, this material can be turned inside-out to get the suede appearance and retain the leather’s rigidity.

As suede is constructed from the underskin of lamb, calf, or goat, there are splits from the cow and deer’s thick hides. This makes it a shaggy nap.

Along with boots, suede is also used to make furniture, bags, and other accessories.


What are the Different Types of Suede?

The types of suede result from the varying according to the animal hide. The following are some of the significant kinds of suede:

Cowhide suede

Cowhide suede is the roughest form of suede. Typically, this is made from an older animal, making it a thicker and coarser nap. It is also known as rawhide, bush coat, rough coat, split cowhide, calfskin, etc.


Sheepskin suede

Sheepskin suede is the softest type of suede. Not is the texture unwrinkled and smooth, it is also light in weight. It is mostly made from sheep and lambs.


Pigskin suede

Pigskin suede is thinner as compared to the cowhide suede. It is created from the inside of a pig’s hide. The surface is buffed with the help of a sanding technique. This gives it a velvety and silky finish.



It is an alternative to suede that is machine-friendly. It is also known as Alcantara. This is used in housing interior and handbag lining.


What is Suede Used for?

As the suede leather is softer and smoother than the textured leather, they have several usages, like the following:

  1. Gloves: As mentioned earlier, suede was initially used to make gloves. The material is soft enough to fit the hand flawlessly for reliable use.
  2. Accessories: Besides gloves, it is used to make handbags, belts, etc.
  3. Jackets: The fashion quotient is maintained with suede jackets.
  4. Shoes: Lastly, suede is perceived as a priority when it comes

Pros of Suede

  1. Suede has a soft texture.
  2. Such a fabric makes the look even more appealing.
  3. As it is a pliable leather, it can be molded easily.
  4. It has high durability.

Cons of Suede

  1. It is extremely thin.
  2. There can be an accumulation of dust and dirt, thereby deteriorating its quality.


How is Nubuck made?


There is no way of proving it, but it is assumed that the nubuck comes from the word “new + buck(skin).”

Nubuck is just like traditional leather. The outside of the hide is taken as the surface material. This is different as compared to the suede leather.

Moreover, the hide is sanded, and a napped finishing is seen on the surface.

It has a velvet-like surface due to the slight nap of short protein fibers. Moreover, it comes in more than a standard color.

As the name suggests, nubuck was made with buckskin. However, some are made with calfskin instead.

Nubuck is comfortable on the hand due to its smooth texture and more durable due to its outer hide construction.


What are the different types of Nubuck?

There is only one primary type of Nubuck, which is the Embossed nubuck.

Embossed nubuck is where a roller is used to apply colored embossing on the nubuck. In the darker areas where the color application is made, the leather is pigmented to smooth leather and, in between, a standard nubuck leather.

Even though this was famous in the 80s, it is a rare find in the present times.


What is Nubuck used for?

As nubuck has more durability than suede leather, it is widely used to make several items, like the following:

  1. Shoes: As nubuck has a somewhat rough texture, it has enhanced capabilities to endure harmful external factors. Such a quality makes it highly useful in boots’ construction.
  2. Furniture: The top-grain surface makes it a fine choice to make furniture.
  3. Accessories: Bags, jackets, wallets, briefcases are made with nubuck leather.


  1. The sanding process makes it a breathable material.
  2. They are highly water-resistant.
  3. The material makes it comfortable to wear.


  1. Such material is more susceptible to staining.
  2. Its color might fade with intensive and frequent use.


What is the Difference Between Suede and Nubuck?

After understanding both the terminologies, it is time for the final rundown! The following are some of the differences between nubuck and suede:



Suede is made from the underskin of the animal’s hide. On the other hand, nubuck is the exterior side of the animal’s coat. The top-grain is sanded down for a smoother finish.




Nubuck has more durability when compared with suede. This is mainly because of the top grain later used as the exterior surface.




Due to the difference in the material, nubuck has more strength-endurance as compared with suede. It also has a thicker material, thereby increasing its strength.




Nubuck is costlier than suede due to its thicker material. But the money paid is worth it due to its enhanced quality.




As nubuck is made with the exterior surface, they are less susceptible to weather or water damage. Meanwhile, the suede leather is not waterproof and can be ruined quickly.



Unlike suede, nubuck does not develop a patina.


Cleaning and Protecting Suede and Nubuck

Even though there are significant differences between suede and nubuck, specific standard methods can clean and protect them.

As both materials can get stained quickly, they needed to be treated gently. If you long to use your suede and nubuck shoes for years, the following are assured do’s and don’ts that you will be required to follow.


  1. If you see a raised texture, it indicates the presence of dirt and dust in your shoes. In such a scenario, brush the whole shoe in a single direction.
  2. Try being gentle with the shoes, especially with the stubborn stains.
  3. You an eraser to spot clean the boots. If that does not work, you can try a mixture of water and vinegar.
  4. Try spraying the boots with silicon-based water and a stain protector. After the first coating, let it dry for 15 days, and then spray again.
  5. Use a dry cloth and dab on the stains. Follow the same procedure with a damp cloth.


  1. DO NOT use WATER. Exposing suede and nubuck to liquids will decrease the quality of the shoes.
  2. Avoid going aggressive on the shoes while cleaning them.


The bottom line

Nobody is perfect in this world, not even your suede and leather boots. They have their share of merits and demerits. But if you go an extra mile in taking care of them, they might as well last for years.

We hope that the abovementioned article has educated you about the difference between suede and nubuck. Irrespective of what you go for, choose something that fits your style and comfort levels. Lastly, do not forget to flaunt it!


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