Why Are My Leather Boots Cracking (And What To Do About It)

Realizing your favorite pair of shoes is damaged can ruin your entire outfit. For example, do you have a pair of leather boots you always wear but have recently noticed they're cracking? What causes this to happen? Can you fix it?

Luckily, we've done plenty of research and have the answer below!

Generally, your leather boots will crack because of their porous material. As your leather ages, dirt and oil build up on the surface of your footwear, causing the cracking to happen.

The dirt and oil also break down the color and texture of your boots, hence why they might have an "aged" look.

As we start this article, we will cover all things leather boots and discuss why yours may be cracking. We're here for you if you're new to leather footwear, have a few pairs of boots with damage, or need additional help. With that said, let's dive in!

Why Are My Leather Boots Cracking?

Dr Martens boots, fashionable and timeless footwear

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One of the main reasons leather shoes and accessories crack is that they're breaking down. As leather gets older, the oil, dirt, and moisture they come in contact with take their toll.

Many experts claim that because leather has a porous surface, you can almost always expect it to crack, discolor, and take on an aged look. Again, this isn't always bad, but it can change how your boots look and feel.

Another leading cause for cracked leather boots is that they're too dry, and you aren't moisturizing them enough. Like our skin, your leather shoes also need routine oiling/moisturizing.

If you forget to wipe them down with a leather conditioner, they'll start cracking over time. Therefore, you want to try and moisturize your boots once a month or more frequently.

We recommend seeing how often you wear them and what they look like after a few outings. It's easier to prevent and repair minor cracking, so you want to avoid this problem.

How Do You Stop Leather Boots From Cracking?

If you notice hairline or even major cracking on your leather boots, we recommend applying a leather conditioner or moisturizer ASAP.

As we covered above, your leather is likely suffering from an oil, dirt, or dryness build-up, causing the cracks to form. Even if your boots get wet while you're outside, that can make them even drier once they settle.

A good schedule for this upkeep would be once weekly until the cracks subside or are less noticeable. Luckily, leather conditioner comes in various forms, including:

pair of brown leather walking winter boots, Why Are My Leather Boots Cracking (And What To Do About It)

  • Oil
  • Cream
  • Spray
  • Wipes

So, you can see that there isn't one way to stop your shoes from deteriorating. Even if you have a busy schedule, giving your shoes a quick wipe-down with moisturizing products can help them last longer.

According to Pedilop, you want to try and tackle cracking as soon as you see it. If you get home from a long day in the sun and notice cracking or major creases, grab some moisturizing products.

One of the primary mistakes people make with their leather goods is not acting soon enough.

Since natural leather ages similarly to our skin, it can be difficult to reverse severe damage. Moreover, you want to try and create a regimen for your boots as soon as you get them: which should keep cracking at bay.

If the damage is present and getting worse, the best thing you can do is moisturize your boots.

Why Are My Leather Boots Creasing?

Front and side view of pair of black female boots on white background

If you start noticing creases on your leather boots, this could indicate they need more moisturizing. Generally, leather will crease, then crack, and eventually peel.

Oddly enough, exposure to moisture, like rain or water from another activity, can cause creasing. As we said, there's a difference between moisture and moisturizing leather footwear.

Getting your leather wet can be a recipe for disaster, especially if this happens often. In contrast, using a creamy product to keep your boots from creasing and cracking is a good practice.

According to shoe experts, lower-quality leather is typically the first to crease compared to higher-end options. So, by design, your footwear could be more prone to this happening.

On the other hand, full-grain leather won't be as susceptible to creasing or cracking, but that's not to say it can't happen. Without enough moisturizing, all types of leather will eventually become damaged.

Do I Need To Waterproof My Leather Boots?

If you intend to wear your leather boots outside often, we recommend waterproofing them. Too much exposure to the elements (water, sun, etc.) can cause the leather to absorb dirt, oil, and debris: cracking before it should.

So, if possible, you might consider using a waterproofing spray or product on your shoes. Doing this isn't always necessary, but if your boots are for work or hiking, waterproofing is needed.

Using a water-repellant on leather shoes keeps them from absorbing moisture, which can help keep creases and cracking away.

If you let your leather experience frequent moisture, that's when cracking, creasing, and discoloration is imminent. One potential downside to owning leather goods is that they can be challenging to care for.

Even if it's a purse, belt, or sofa, leather needs more upkeep than standard fabric.

Can You Repair Severely Cracked Leather Boots?

top view of old leather shoes on wooden table prepare to clean and care with wax

Yes! Even if your shoes have severe cracking, you should be able to repair them. Generally, the best way to do this is to use filler and dye to make the repair less noticeable.

However, with more minimal cracking, you could fix the problem using moisturizer and buffing out any imperfections. Leather doesn't typically respond well to intense cleaning or aggressive repair work, so be careful.

According to Construction Informer, here's one way to fix your damaged leather:

  1. Clean and prepare your cracked leather surface
  2. Apply a leather-specific conditioner to your boots
  3. Leave the conditioner on your shoes for ten or so hours
  4. Once the conditioner dries, apply a second layer
  5. Repeat this process if needed, or take on a more serious repair

If your cracking is more severe and the deep conditioning doesn't help:

  1. Clean your boots with a leather-friendly soap/cleanser
  2. Allow your shoes to completely dry
  3. Sand down any severe cracking, scuffing, or peeling (600 or 800-grit paper works best)
  4. Apply a leather dye to the problem areas (try and purchase an entire leather kit)
  5. Apply and smooth a leather filler into the cracks using a palette knife
  6. Sand down your filler to make one even surface on your boots
  7. (Optional) apply another round of conditioner and dye to your repair

So, you can see that this repair shouldn't be too difficult. The best way to fix your boots is to purchase some type of leather repair/filler kit, which should come with clear instructions.

And again, always start by conditioning your leather and seeing if that makes any difference.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Cracked Leather Boots?

Shoemaker's work desk

Although pricing may vary, you can typically expect your leather boots to be around $100 to repair. Generally, fixing leather with scratches, cracking, or creasing isn't super challenging, so you don't need to set aside a few hundred dollars.

However, this pricing will depend significantly on where you are, the expertise of your repair person, and the extent of the cracking. Sometimes, severe repairs may require additional labor, meaning a larger bill.

According to pros, your repair can cost anywhere from $5 to as much as $80 on average. 

That means if your cracks are hairline, you could get away with spending under $50. Again, you might want to try deep conditioning your leather boots before going to a professional, as that fixes most minor damage.

Investing in a high-quality leather cleanser and conditioner can save you plenty of money down the road. Also, you can try a DIY repair using filler and dye, which we gave instructions for above.

Why Are My Leather Boots Changing Color?

Another common issue leather boot owners face is color-changing shoes. Generally, you might notice your boots become lighter or darker as they age, which is entirely normal.

According to Nicks's Boots, brown leather boots will darken over time, but black leather boots will usually lighten. This might seem odd to some people, but it's a part of leather's natural aging process.

Brown or light-colored leather will darken due to oils and moisture, while these same factors are what cause black leather to turn lighter.

Furthermore, tan leather will eventually become a medium brown, so no leather is safe from some level of discoloration.

To Finish It Up

Whether you have ten pairs of leather boots or just bought your first, it's always good to know how to take care of them. We found that leather boots will crack because of their porous material.

Over time, leather absorbs oil, dirt, and other moisture/elements. These all play into cracking and creasing, which is why using a cleanser and leather-specific moisturizer is so crucial.

You want to try and waterproof your leather if they're work boots or hiking boots, which will also fight off creasing, cracking, and peeling. Leather is a lot like skin, so the more moisturizer/conditioner:, the better!

And while we have your attention, check out these helpful related style posts:

Why Are My Leather Boots Peeling? [And What To Do About It]

How To Clean Waterproof Leather Boots [In 3 Easy Steps!]

What Leather Boots Are Made In The USA?

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