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Leather Edge Paint – Options to Stylize and Protect Edges

Working with chrome tanned leather is a joy. It is soft, flexible, and budget-friendly. One area that it falls short in is edge finishing. The leather does not burnish well and requires other options. As a bag maker, I needed a better way to make my edges look nice. I recently started using edge paint, allowing me to color all my leather edges without the need for burnishing. 

Leather edge paint is a product used to color, seal, and finish the edges of any leather. The paint bonds to the leather’s edge and builds up in smooth, durable layers. Edge paint can add a unique design element to any project and costs $6–$80, depending on the container size.

Leather edge paint can be a great way to spice up any leather project. Let’s examine how this stylized product can be applied to your projects. 

What Is Leather Edge Paint?

Leather edge paint is a semi-liquid product applied to the edges of leather to finish them. The edge paint sticks to the leather, making a smooth, durable surface with each additional layer. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of edge paint colors, which can often be mixed, allowing any tone to be made for a project.

Leather edge paint is best suited for leathers that do not burnish easily, such as chrome tanned, oil tanned, or exotic leathers. However, the paint can be used on any leather to add creative detail to projects. Regardless of what leather the edge paint is used on, it will cover all loose fibers, protecting the leather’s edge from water and wear. 

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • When You Might Use Leather Edge Paint
  • Leather Edge Paint Quick Reference Table
  • Leather Edge Paint Types and Variations
  • Leather Edge Paint Characteristics
  • Leather Edge Paint Pros
  • Leather Edge Paint Cons
  • Leather Edge Paint Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made
  • Leather Edge Paint Costs
  • Alternative Options to Leather Edge Paint
  • Experienced Tips for Working With Leather Edge Paint
  • My Personal Research with Leather Edge Paint
  • Leather Edge Paint Care and Maintenance
  • Helpful Leather Edge Paint Insights
  • Key Takeaways
A Crafter Painting Leather Edges - Leather Edge Paint - Liberty Leather Goods
A Crafter Painting Leather Edges

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

A common area of confusion with edge paint is how it compares to edge dye. Edge dye soaks into the leather, changing the color, which can be burnished to provide a stylized look. On the other hand, leather edge paint does not change the leather’s color but builds up on the edge.

While there are methods to help adhere the edge paint to the leather, most will still only sit on it. This means the edge paint is much more likely to wear off over time than dyed, burnished edges. 

When You Might Use Leather Edge Paint

Some leathers do not burnish well and will leave fibers throughout the edge; edge paint excels for these types of leathers. Edge paint will completely cover the perimeter, hiding the fiber, and can even be color matched to make the paint more subtle. Alternatively, edge paint can be used anytime you want a visual flair added to projects.

It is sold in almost every color and can be mixed to create the perfect shade for any project. Edge paint may also be used for an edge-finishing method that looks more refined. While edge burnishing can be shined up to a glossy finish, that finish will dull over time. With edge paint, the shiny coat added will be as durable as the paint itself.

Leather edge paint is best suited for leathers that do not burnish easily, such as chrome tanned, oil tanned, or exotic leathers.

Leather Edge Paint Quick Reference Table

ToolLeather Edge Paint
Component MaterialsPigment, water, resin 
Common Sizes2oz, 4oz, 34oz
Cost Range ($)$6–$80
Recommended MaintenanceReapply coats when necessary
Recommended StorageClosed in the original container, stored between 50–85 degrees Fahrenheit, no longer than three years
Common UsesFinishing hard-to-burnish edges with a colored
How Long It Lasts (on average)Three years unopened, one year opened
Leather Edge Paint Characteristics

Leather Edge Paint Types and Variations

Leather edge paint remains largely the same throughout various brands, and colors. The biggest change that influences which one to use is the viscosity and how it feels after it has been applied. Edge paints will be easier or more difficult to put on, which can affect how even the edge looks. 

Ideally, an edge paint will be watery enough to apply easily but thick enough to provide stability and limit the required coats. Once completely dried, each brand of edge paint will feel different. Some will feel rubbery, while others may feel hard. 

This will impact how the edge paint will wear; rubbery edge paint may show more wear signs but won’t break off in chunks. Harder edge paint may not be as impacted but will result in larger peeling areas. While these differences are preferences, they are often the only differences in edge paints.

Leather Edge Paint Characteristics


While each leather edge paint brand will have its own proprietary formula, it will typically be made from pigment, water, and resin. The pigment is a solid powder mixed into water, coloring the paint. Water helps transfer the pigmented resin mix onto the surface of the leather. It can then dry to only leave behind the hardened layer of edge paint. 

Resin is where most edge paints begin to differ. The resin is what gives the edge paint its final feel and durability. Some will be rubbery, while others will dry much stiffer. Vodzinska O Ksana, Bilotska Larysa, Vorona Nadiia, and Donchenko Svitlana, from the Kyiv National University of Technologies and Design, in Kyiv, Ukraine, looked at various paints, discovering how the adhesion of the paint changed when using different bonding ratios.

While paint will be more absorbed into the surface if it is thinner, the opacity of the paint can greatly diminish. Leather edge paints strive to find the perfect balance for a strong bond without the need for excessive coats.


Typical sizes of edge paint bottles are 2oz, 4oz, and 32oz. The smallest size is what companies will offer as a trial for their product. While small, it will be enough leather edge paint for multiple projects. 4oz–8oz bottles are the standard size of edge paint.

These are ideal for colors that will be used often by hobbyists. Since edge paint has a shelf life, colors not often used may be best suited for a smaller size. The 32oz bottle is solely for those that produce a high volume of leather goods. While this price is lower per ounce, the shelf life forces the product to be used quickly.


Leather edge paint comes in three main variations, a base coat, colored paint, and a finishing coat. The base coat is a dense, uncolored or white edge painting product used to fill any imperfections on the leather edge and provides a smooth surface for the colored paint to adhere to. While it is not a necessary product, it does help create a strong bond and smoother end product.

Colored edge paint is the main product that will be applied. It can be used alone to finish and color the leather’s edges. A finishing coat is optional but can provide a more refined product look. The finishing paints will provide matte to high gloss finishes to any edge paint and an additional layer of protection.

Painting Leather Edges Black - Leather Edge Paint - Liberty Leather Goods
Painting Leather Edges Black

Leather Edge Paint Pros

When working with leathers that do not burnish well, finding a solution that looks nice and will protect the edge can be tricky. Leather edge paint is perfect for these situations. Oil tanned or chrome tanned leather or suede can have edge paint applied to them to finish their edges. A big benefit that sets edge paint apart is its flexibility with the leather.

Any other paint used on leather may crack when bent. Edge paint is practical and can be used to add stylish detail to an otherwise simple project. Edge color can blend in or stand out, making a statement similar to leather thread color. 

Leather Edge Paint Cons

While leather edge paint is a solid choice for finishing edges, it does have some drawbacks. When applying leather edge paint, it can drip onto the surface of the leather, potentially ruining some projects. The application method takes time, and while a single coat can be applied within minutes, edge paint will require dry time between each coat.

Edge painting is also not a permanent product. Wear and tear will peel the edge paint, requiring it to be repaired or replaced. Therefore, if durability is the main concern, there are better ways to finish leather edges. 

Leather Edge Paint Manufacturing Process – How They’re Made

The process of making edge paint starts with choosing a pigment that will be used for the paint. This material will be ground down into a fine powder that will then be mixed with a binder of the manufacturer’s choice. This binder is typically a resin or polyurethane mixture.

The binding will need water added to the material to prevent it from solidifying. Once all the ingredients are added, the product may be even mixed to create the colored semi-liquid paint. This final product must be sealed and bottled to prevent the water from evaporating and causing the paint to dry out.

Leather Edge Paint Costs

Edge paint costs depend on the brand and bottle size. Small 2oz bottles can be as little as $4 each. Larger bottles, 4oz–8oz, can cost between $6–$12. The largest bottles are 32oz, costing up to $75 per bottle. Edge paint is a supply that may need to be purchased multiple times.

If a color is used frequently, purchasing a larger bottle at a discount may be wise. However, due to the product’s shelf life, colors not used often may expire before they’re used. In these cases, purchasing the smallest bottle available is the best option.

Alternative Options to Leather Edge Paint

Alternative options to edge paint are separated by the final desired outcome. Burnishing is often the best method if the goal is just to create a nice finished edge that will last. However, for leathers that do not burnish well, the edges may be rolled to hide them.

This is a popular method used with soft chromium tanned leathers when making bags. If the goal of the edge paint was to add color to the product, a leather dye could be used instead of paint. While the dye will not be as opaque as the edge paint, it will still provide plenty of color to help style products. 

Experienced Tips for Working With a Leather Edge Paint

  1. Sand between each coat of edge paint to create a smoother final product.
  2. A thick initial coat provides a strong bond and creates a structure for the following layers.
  3. Allow ample dry time before attempting to apply any additional coats. 

In this helpful video, artisan Teran Atelier showcases how to apply edge paint on leather, showing in detail each step to creating a smooth, professional finish. 

My Personal Research with Leather Edge Paint

The most important part when using edge paint is ensuring the bond created between the paint and the leather is the best it can be. I tested two ways of creating a stronger bond: heat and rough sanding using oil tanned leather, with no base coat.

No Treatment

To establish my baseline with this research, I simply cut a piece of oil tanned leather and applied edge paint, leaving it to dry for hours or overnight before applying additional coatings. I felt three layers were ideal as the paint was mostly smooth by that point.

I then used my hands to attempt to peel at the leather. I was quickly able to peel up a small piece before it tore. However, the rest quickly followed with little effort. When examining the leather after removing the paint, I saw small amounts of paint remnants were still stuck to the leather. 


Using heat is a common method used when applying edge paint. Not only does the heat smooth the paint down, but it melts it into the leather. However, I wanted to see if this created a better bond firsthand. I applied three layers of edge paint, and after each one, I passed a heated flat creaser on their surface.

Once I had finished, and the piece was completely dried, I began attempting to peel the edge paint. It was fairly difficult to get the paint to come up, but once I removed a chunk, I could slowly pull more and more off. Once entirely removed, I could see what was left on the edge. Despite pulling most of the paint off, the edge clearly had remnants of edge paint, leading me to believe the paint melted nicely. 

Rough Sanding

The idea of rough sanding is similar to that of gluing. I aimed to rough up and open the leather fibers, so the oily surface did not cause the paint to peel off immediately. I used 80-grit sandpaper on a freshly cut edge before adding my coats. Just like the heat method, I added three total coats.

When the edge paint had completely dried, I once again began attempting to peel it. While initially, it felt similar, the bond breaking was difficult, and the sanded version began peeling much easier. Once it was completely removed, it had fewer remnants of the paint left on it than heating it — signs of a weaker bond.


A common concern for those looking to try leather edge paint is the lack of heating tools. While in my testing, I found that heating the edge paint created the strongest bond; the controlled and sanded pieces performed well. Edge paint can be applied without any additional tools, although pretreating the leather by sanding, or heating the paint when applied, does help create a more durable final product.

Leather Edge Paint Care and Maintenance

How to Clean a Leather Edge Paint

The edges of any edge paint will attract dust or other debris and may need to be cleaned. To do so, wipe the edges with a clean rag with no loose fibers. Small amounts of water may be used to help pick up anything stuck to the paint. Do not use any other cleaning products or alcohol on edge paint, as it could cause the paint to break down and wash away. 

How to Maintain a Leather Edge Paint

Overtime edge paint may develop divots or peel from use. Depending on the severity, the paint may need to be smoothed again or reapplied completely. For small divots, using a canvas cloth and rubbing the edge back and forth will help heat the paint, letting it flow back into place. A missing chunk can be fixed by adding leather edge paint, but it will be less durable. Ideally, when edge paint begins to peel, it should be replaced by removing it completely and applying a fresh coat.

How to Store a Leather Edge Paint

Properly storing leather edge paint is key to its longevity. Paint should be kept in the original container completely closed. It should also be stored between 50–85 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain viscosity. Sealed leather paint may be stored for up to three years; however, once the seal of the edge paint has been removed, the paint will only last up to a year. 

Helpful Leather Edge Paint Insights

How long does leather edge paint last?

When stored with the seal on, edge paint lasts up to three years before becoming unusable. However, as soon as the paint is opened, it will only last up to a year from the opening date. Each leather edge paint manufacturer will have its own lifespan. As a result, some paints may last longer or expire sooner.

Is leather edge paint durable?

Edge paint is not the most durable way to finish the edges of the leather. It will develop divots and eventually begin to peel off. However, it can last years before having any issues when it is well cared for. As a show of confidence, fashion brands will use edge paint on many products, including their high-end lines.

What is a leather edge paint machine?

A leather edge paint machine is a device used to apply edge paint smoothly. The machines use a roller that passes through a pool of edge paint and rolls it onto the leather. Machines can be electric or have a loose spinning wheel that uses motion to roll the paint on. While they can be beneficial for applying edge paint quickly, they are not necessary to apply the paint.

What is the best leather edge paint?

There is no best leather edge paint, only preferences. Some will be easy to apply but require more coats to build a solid edge. Others will be durable but feel like hard plastic. These are all things to consider when choosing an edge paint brand. 

What are leather edge paint alternatives?

For products similar to edge paint, a leather dye can be used. While it will not have the same opacity and will not build up layers, it will provide the color. When burnished, the dye can look similar to edge paint. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Edge paint is a good way to finish the edges of non-burnishable leather.
  2. Paint color can be chosen to match the leather or stand out as a design element. 
  3. When applying edge paint, allow the paint to dry fully to ensure the best outcome.

In Closing

The ultimate goal of any leather project is to make the piece look as best as possible. Edge paint surpasses this goal. Edge paint creates a finishing method that deals with the loose fibers that can run rampant with leathers that can’t be burnished. It also adds a design element to every project and helps our projects pop. 

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