Which Paint To Use On Leather Shoes? [What to Avoid]

Do you find the color of your leather shoes a bit bland? Have you ever felt the desire to be creative and make a design on your shoes or change their color? Some people are able to completely change how their leather shoes look by painting them.

To paint leather shoes use acrylic paint specifically made for leather, multisurface acrylic, or permanent markers. Avoid using watercolors, other paint types, regular acrylic paint, or markers that are non-permanent.

Selecting the appropriate paint for your leather shoe can be a little challenging especially if you are just starting out without the supplies you need. There are certain paints that are good for leather shoes and there are those that are not. Let’s discuss more which paints to use on leather shoes.

What Paint Should You Use On Leather Shoes?


Earlier, I have listed the paints to avoid when painting your leather shoes, this time I’ll show you the recommended paints to use on a leather shoe. Because the leather has a different texture and that it’s a porous material, perhaps, it can be more porous than wood.

This means that having the right paint for your leather shoes will make great results. Generally, paints that are water-based and not specifically for leather usage should be avoided.

You can use paints that specify the are for leather, acrylic leather paint, some pearlescent paints, and some spray paints can work as well.

Paints You Shouldn’t Use On Leather Shoes

This video gives you an idea of what painting on leather shoes should be like. If you get bad results it may be due to forgetting some steps or the paint you’re using.

Painting leather shoes is not like painting your regular sneakers. Given that the characteristics of the leather are different compared to canvas shoes. The texture of leather is usually smooth and tends to have a binder coating on the grain part.

While canvas shoe is made up of plain-woven fabric which usually consists of cotton and synthetic materials which is very absorbent for almost every kind of paint.

Before you paint your pair of leather shoes and get creative, make sure you are using the right paint, or else it will just rub off or create smudges when it’s dry. Below is a list of paints you shouldn’t use when painting your leather shoes.

Regular Acrylic Paint

Although the leather paint is mostly acrylic-based, don’t use some regular acrylic paints that you use on wood, paper, or canvas. Sure, you can use regular acrylic paint, but if you want to see the best result, go for acrylic paints that are suitable for leather.

Paints such as leather paints are great for painting your shoes because they are specifically made for leather. Also, specifically designed paints for leather give thinner consistency and balanced ratios in mixing the paint.

While on the other hand, regular acrylic paint that you can buy at the art store is thicker which is sometimes off to the texture of the leather.


If you paint your leather shoes with watercolor paints, you will probably just waste your time. Because watercolors are water-based solutions, painting this on your leather shoes is not a good idea. Especially when your shoes get wet or even get splashed by water, they will just quickly be washed out.

Also, watercolor paints are often opaque and transparent which is not applicable to leather. Additionally, watercolor paints will quickly fade in a short period of time. You should also consider the texture of the leather as well as the strong color which dominates the color compared to watercolor paints.

Sharpies and Permanent Markers

Get Creative paint shoes

Although permanent markers can work like paint, I wouldn’t recommend them for a long-term solution. These markers are widely when creating designs on shoes. A fresh Sharpie marker can help make a clean design that looks nice temporarily.

Markers are often used in canvas shoes and it’s very popular because they are inexpensive and great for freehand design like doodles smaller details.

When it comes to leather shoes, putting any sharpies or permanent markers is not effective as you would on a canvas shoe. These are going to fade over time and create some smudges due to faded ink which may worsen the look of your leather shoes.

Paints To Use On Leather

Acrylic Leather Paint

Leather paints are acrylic based are specifically designed for painting leather shoes and all kinds of things that are made of leather. Also, this kind of paint won’t easily flake or be riddled with cracks and you don’t have to think about bubbling up or even peeling off.

Because leather paints are water solvents, these will become water-resistant. In addition, this paint has a thinner consistency making it compatible with the texture of the leather. Leather paints are quite popular for leather craftsmen and among the favored brand is the Angelus.

I often use acrylic leather paint because it’s easy to use as well as less expensive. You can just buy one of these in a craft store but be careful not to buy the regular acrylic paint.

Metallic Leather Paint 

If you want a vibrant and shiny color, one of the best paints to try is metallic leather paint. These are great if you want to accentuate the color of your leather shoes. Putting metallic paint on leather may sound off but it fits well.

I also like the metallic paint on my leather shoes for shiny effects, because these paints work perfectly on leather because they are flexible, have great coverage, and have an opaque characteristic. It’s also weather-resistant especially if you bought good quality metallic leather paints.

Leather Paint Markers

Leather paint markers are extremely useful when it comes to adding details or if you want to add some color to a tight space. I store one of these because I’m able to freehand my design and I can add a bit of highlight so easily.

These are better than Sharpies or permanent markers because they work well with leather shoes and any kind of leather. Leather paint markers last longer compared to Sharpies.

However, to make the leather paint markers last longer, make sure you paint it with consistency and do several coats more particularly if you are using lighter colors such as pink, yellow, or white.

Final Thoughts

There’s no denying that getting creative with your leather shoes, especially painting them can be fun. I love to do some experiments with my old leather shoes like repainting them or sometimes accentuating some designs.

However, before you paint your leather shoes, make sure it’s specifically for leather, or else the result won’t be the same as you would think of it. I suggest before you paint your pair of leather shoes, make sure it’s the right paint.

Don’t forget to clean your leather shoe well before applying your paint so the paint will stay on well into the future (

Thanks for visiting Helpshoe.com




Eyr Miscaux

Eyr is a content writer, outdoor enthusiast, and shoe collector, who loves to craft his own adventures be it by reading books or going on outdoor trips. At home, he enjoys reading, watching classic films, and sometimes playing with his adorable feline.

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