A waterproof coating is applied to the outside of boots at the factory.
Although it doesn’t make it waterproof, it does help. Durable Water Repellency is the name of the coating. Like the coating you can get on a car’s windshield, this creme or spray makes water bead off.
So how do re-waterproof leather boots and what are the benefits to waterproof your boots? By beading off the water, two things are accomplished. The first benefit is that it keeps your boots dry. A beading system prevents water from soaking into your feet and getting wet.
Secondly, soaking the boots in water prevents them from getting wet out. Moisture from your feet needs to escape the boot to evaporate. Water soaked into your boot’s outer layer prevents it from breathing and letting moisture escape. Blisters can develop when your feet are sweaty.
As time passes, the DWR begins to wear off. Rather than beading off anymore, water soaks into the boot’s outer layer. The boot won’t breathe if the water doesn’t bead.
It’s time to re-waterproof those boots and learn how to re-waterproof boots.
But, before we begin, there is one last thing to discuss. Boots that have been ‘waterproofed’ are not waterproof anymore. They are waterproof due to the leather or Gore-Tex membrane. So, if the waterproof membrane is damaged, you can try to help it bead off, but water will still find its way inside at some point eventually.
Choosing the Right Waterproofing Method
Choose the right waterproofing spray, cream, or wax for your project, depending on the type of boot you have.
The full-grain leather on the outside of the boot is smooth, shiny, and looks like leather. Water and abrasion are naturally resistant to leather. A suitable product to use is Nikwax Waterproofing Wax Liquid for Leather.
The brushed leather look is known as nubuck or suede. Nubuck leather is full-thickness brushed leather, while suede leather is split-grain brushed leather. Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof is suitable for this type of leather. Testing a small patch of Nubuck or Suede before waterproofing the whole boot is recommended because waterproofers can change the color.
In boots, synthetic materials are usually polyester or nylon, but they can also be mixed with leather. In many cases, they’re waterproofed inside with Gore-Tex membranes. Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof works well here. Keep Gore-Tex boots away from wax, grease, and oil.
As soon as you’ve figured out your boot type and the type of waterproofer you’re looking to use, it’s time to start cleaning your boots.
How to Re Waterproofing Fabric Boots
Fabric walking boots can be restored to their water repellency with a spray-on proofer.
Despite being more challenging to clean than leather boots, fabric boots are still worth caring for. You can reduce the lifespan of your boots by leaving dirt particles in the fabric.
Boots made of fabric can be re-waterproofed in the following ways:
- Ensure the boots are clean (see how to clean hiking boots or shoes for more information).
- It is possible to re-proof fabric boots while they are wet or dry. In addition to cleaning and drying your boots, reproofed can be applied the next day, and they can be allowed to dry overnight once again before being used. Even though it takes a bit longer, the proofer will be easier to see when sprayed on wet boots.
- Let them air dry completely after you apply the proofer.
How to Reproof Leather and Suede Walking Boots
Nubuck and suede boots can be water-resistant with a spray designed for footwear.
Reproofing nubuck and suede boots:
- Use a soft footwear brush or damp cloth to remove loose dirt from the boot.
- Use a reproofing spray and spray from a distance of about 5 cm. Ensure that the entire boot is coated evenly.
- Allow drying before using. Allow your boots to air naturally instead of using a heat source or hair dryer.
- Boots can be restored to their original finish with a footwear brush.
Step-by-Step Guide to Reproof Leather and Suede Walking Boots
So, here is how you can re waterproof your walking work boots easily.
1. Clean Boots
Here is a short guide that will show you how to maintain the cleanliness of your boots:
- Remove the laces from the shoes
- Dust and dirt should be brushed off with a brush
- Then rinse it with clean water and allow it to air dry
- If they are filthy, you can use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to clean them
It’s sometimes necessary to soak them because they’re so dirty. It is not a good idea to soak nubuck. There will be too much softening of the leather.
2. Apply to Waterproof
Putting on the waterproofer is best done as soon as the boots are wet after they have been cleaned. The instructions for applying the waterproofer are usually found on the container.
Make sure you apply the product to the entire body in a well-ventilated area or outside if possible. Spray from a distance of six inches away.
- Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before using.
- Remove any excess liquid by wiping it off.
- Allow boots to dry for a couple of hours.
You can wrap your boots in a wet towel and place them in a tub or sink if the boots are not sufficiently wet.
3. Drying the Boots
Having cleaned and waterproofed them, it is time to dry them.
Ensure that they are dried in a low-humidity area at room temperature.
Keep them away from heat sources like wood stoves and radiators. The process can be sped up by placing them in front of a fan or drying them on a boot dryer.
Paper towels or hand towels can be stuffed inside if the inside is wet.
4. Storing the Boots
Ensure your boots are stored at a stable temperature that doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Store boots outside, under your car’s trunk, or next to a wood stove is not a good idea.
What is the best way to waterproof old boots?
The simplest and best method of waterproofing boots is to use silicone spray. However, it is not very durable. You should reapply the coating frequently as it degrades over a week or two if you wear it daily.
What is the recommended frequency of re-waterproofing?
It is an excellent idea to re-waterproof once a year, but you can do so more often if you like.
The amount will need to be increased if you are using them heavily. Keep an eye on the beading on the boots and reapply as needed. Getting your boots cleaned and waterproofed before going on a big trip is a good idea.
If you keep your boots clean, they will last longer and work better.
When water gets over the top of boots, does re-waterproofing help?
Not at all. If your boots are covered in water from a stream or puddle, nothing will help. If the water is higher than your boots, then gaiters aren’t going to keep out mud, snow, and water during a quick dunk.