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The Many Leather Paint Uses for Home, Auto, and Fashion

Leather paint can be used to paint leather objects large and small. It can also be used to paint other flexible surfaces like pleather, canvas, or mesh.

Find out some of the many uses for leather paint. Here you’ll find information about painting shoes, sneakers, car seats, furniture, and more. It includes instructions and supplies needed for basic leather painting, as well as suggestions for brands of leather paint to use for various applications.

Read on to find out how to use leather paint for all sorts of leather (and other) objects that you want to restore or add color and/or designs to.


What Is Leather Paint?

Are you bored with your leather purse or couch? Did you find a leather coat at the thrift store that’s in great shape except for a few stains? If so, you may want to get yourself some leather paint. As you will see, you can use leather paint for shoes, car seats, furniture, clothing and accessories. You can apply it with a brush or marker or spray it.


Red Leather Spray Paint - Liberty Leather Goods

Red Leather Spray Paint


Leather paint is an acrylic-based paint that has been specially formulated to adhere to and color the soft surface of leather. These paints can be used on a wide variety of surfaces besides leather, too. Finished leather surfaces need to be carefully prepared-the surface finish removed- so that the paint will be able to stick. 

Leather paints differ from other acrylic paints because they are flexible and less likely to crack, chip or flake. They differ from leather dyes in that the dyes actually penetrate the leather, while the paint sits on the surface. Dye might be a good solution if you want to have your leather—especially unfinished leather—be one solid color. But if you want to create a design or cover a whole couch, leather paint will work better.

Leather paints are relatively inexpensive and long-lasting when applied properly. They are readily available at art stores—local or online, craft stores, big box stores, Amazon, and direct from the manufacturer.

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paints and Brushes - Liberty Leather Goods

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paints and Brushes


Leather Paint Uses


Leather Paint for Shoes

Give your leather shoes a new personality—let your own personality shine! You can spray paint them or paint them with a brush (detailed instructions for this below). You can also use markers to add details or get color into tight spots. 

To paint your leather shoes, you need the following materials:

  • Cleaner/deglazer—like Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer ($4 for 5 oz—plenty for a pair of shoes)
  • Leather paints in color or colors of your choice
  • Paint finisher to seal and protect (Angelus sells this for around $4 for 4 oz in various finishes)
  • If the shoes will be out in the rain or snow, use a water proofer, like Scotchguard.
  • Flat or foam brush for applying paint and finisher
  • Rag or cotton balls or pads for applying cleaner/deglazer
  • Newspapers or a drop cloth to protect the surface you’re painting on (Optional)
  • Painter’s masking tape if you want to keep paint off a certain part of the shoe—like the sole (optional)
  • Shoe cream or polish and brush or rag to apply and buff with (Optional, but recommended)

If you want to create a design or cover a whole couch, leather paint will works best.

Applying Yellow Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint - Liberty Leather Goods

Applying Yellow Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint

And here are the steps to follow:

  1. If the shoes have laces or anything else that’s not  permanently attached, remove them! (You can paint laces, too, if you want, but not while they’re in the shoes.)
  2. Rub the shoes (or the part of the shoes you’re planning to paint) with the cleaner/deglazer
  3. Let it dry for a few minutes
  4. Mix your paints or use them straight from the jar. If mixing, be sure to mix enough to cover both shoes with several layers of paint, probably 3-6 layers. You want to apply thin even layers, so if the paint seems too thick, add a little bit of water, mix and check the consistency. Be really careful here. Like adding salt to your soup, you can always add a little more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in!
  5. Apply a layer of paint with your flat or sponge brush.
    Brushing on Blue Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint - Liberty Leather Goods

    Brushing on Blue Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint

  6. Let dry for 15-30 minutes, until the paint doesn’t feel tacky when you touch it
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until your shoes are completely covered and you can no longer see the color underneath.
  8. Let dry for 24 hours (or more)
  9. Apply the finisher
  10. Allow to dry for 24 hours (or more)
  11. It’s also a good idea to apply a shoe cream or polish to rehydrate the leather—you can apply several coats to help protect your leather and make it look even more beautiful
  12. Apply water proofing, if desired


Leather Paint for Sneakers

Sneakers can be made from many different materials, including leather, fabric, vinyl, rubber, foam, and plastic. Most of these can be painted with leather paints with the proper preparation. The only part of a shoe that you shouldn’t paint is the rubber soles—because the paint won’t stick to them. You can paint the translucent part of the soles, though.

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paints with Brushes - Liberty Leather Goods

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paints with Brushes

Painting translucent soles—You need some special paints for this. Angelus recommends mixing their product Sole Bright ($12 for 3.9 oz—it can also be used for restoring yellowed soles or midsoles) with leather dye (Angelus charges $4 for 3 oz)

For the other parts of the sneakers, you’ll need to follow the steps as set out in the section on leather shoes with the following differences:

Preparing the surfaces—you’ll still use the leather deglazer for any leather surfaces. For other surfaces, just make sure they are clean and dry.

Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer - Liberty Leather Goods

Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer

Painting plastic surfaces—Angelus paints recommends that you mix their paint 50-50 with Angelus 2-hard ($4 for 1 oz.)


Leather Paint For Car Seats

You can paint your leather car seats yourself and it will cost a lot less than having it done professionally. Of course, it’s more work! But you get the satisfaction of doing it yourself plus saving money. Paint them the same color they already are to freshen them up or give them a whole new color, if you want.

It seems like the easiest way to paint car seats is to buy a leather dye kit for car seats either online or at a local auto retailer. These kits cost upward of $100 to get enough dye for all of the seats. But if you just need to do a little touch up, it will cost considerably less—but you will need to try to match the color you already have.


Shoe Design Paint

You can create all kinds of fancy designs on your shoes using leather paint and/or markers. You can find leather paints that are metallic, glittery, pearlescent and fluorescent—as well as just regular old colors. 

If you want to work up your design before you put it onto the shoes, Angelus has mock ups of some of the more popular types of shoes that you can download and use on Adobe photoshop.

Shoe designers charge a ton of money for their hand-painted shoes. Why not do it yourself and have fun!


Leather Paint For Furniture

Leather paint can be used in a variety of ways on furniture. 

You can use regular brush-on paint on your furniture—paint it one color or give it a fancy design to match your shoes! Just follow the steps under painting shoes above—but you’ll need a lot more paint.

MB Brillo makes a leather and vinyl spray paint that you can use on leather or vinyl furniture. I found it on ETSY for $12.95 for a 4.5 oz bottle—and it comes in over 50 colors. And don’t forget—for this, as for all leather painting, preparation is key to success.

Here is a helpful video demonstrating how to paint your leather furniture:


Leather Sofa Paint Kit 90

Rub ‘n Restore sells colors you can use to restore or change the color of a leather couch. In addition to the many colors available, they will also match a color for you, if you want. They estimate the cost to DIY is from $45-$150. They have an online questionnaire to help you build a kit with everything you need to restore or color your sofa.

You can also use the same dye kits as described under leather paint for auto seats on sofas or other leather furniture.


Finisher For Shoes

You always want to seal your hand-painted shoes before wearing them out and about. This protects them from dirt, scuffs, and moisture. I found different ideas for how to protect these shoes, but the safest route is to use a sealant made specifically for shoes or leather. Angelus—my favorite—makes a sealant in 5 different glosses from matte to shiny for about $4 for 4 oz. Fieblings finisher costs $8.50 for 4 oz and Leather Hero also makes a sealer for about the same price. 


Leather Furniture and Upholstery Painting


How to Paint Leather Furniture?

Leather furniture is best painted using paints especially made for leather. For brush painting, follow the steps outlined under “leather paint for shoes” above. You can paint your furniture a solid color or paint a fabulous design with as many colors as you like.


Can I Spray Paint My Leather Couch?

Yes! You can spray paint your leather couch. Be sure to clean and deglaze the leather. And be sure to use a paint specially designed for leather or vinyl or other flexible material. In addition to the MB Brillo spray paint already mentioned, Rustoleum also makes a fabric and vinyl paint that works on leather. It costs around $5 for an 11 oz can.


Can You Change the Colour of a Leather Sofa?

You can change the color of a leather sofa using leather paint, leather spray paint or leather dye—as in the leather dye kits you can buy for auto seats or furniture.

This video will show you how you can revive an old piece of leather furniture with Leather Paint.


Leather Paint for Furniture

Any kind of paint made especially for leather can be used for leather furniture. You’ll need to apply a sealer or finisher. You can also use spray paints made for leather or for other flexible materials like vinyl or fabric.


Leather Paint for Couch

You can paint your leather couch with leather paint. Follow the steps for painting leather shoes above. You’ll need to prep the surface, apply 3-6 think coats of paint and then seal the paint at the end. You can also use leather spray paint.


Can I Paint My Leather Car Seats?

You can paint leather car seats. The best way to do it is to buy a dye kit for leather car seats from an auto supply store or online. You can match your old color or choose out a new one.



Leather Clothing Painting


How Do You Paint a Leather Belt?

Painting a leather belt is easy-peasy! Use Angelus paints or another paint made for use on leather. Follow the steps laid out in “Painting leather shoes” above. If you can remove the buckle, do so before painting. Otherwise, you might want to tape the metal with masking tape to make sure you don’t get paint on it.

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Jars - Liberty Leather Goods

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Jars


What Kind of Paint Do You Use on a Leather Jacket?

You can paint a leather jacket with paints especially made for leather. These paints are meant to be flexible like leather and won’t crack or make the leather stiff if you apply them properly. Jacquard paints, made for fabrics, also work well on leather jackets. But most other fabric paints won’t work as well. The Jacquard paints and Angelus paints come in a wide variety of colors and fun metallics, glitter and pearlescent paints. Or you can use leather paint to touch up your jacket—if you don’t find the color to match, you can mix it yourself.

Here is a great tutorial on how to paint a Leather Jacket



Leather Shoe and Sneaker Painting


What Paint to Use On Shoes?

Leather paint is the best kind of paint to use on shoes, whether they are leather, canvas, mesh, vinyl, or plastic or a combination. If the shoes are all fabric, fabric paint will also work well. And if you want to paint patent leather shoes, you can use regular leather paints or special paints for patent leather (that need a lot less preparation than regular leather paints). DecoArt Patent Leather Paint costs around $3 for a 2-oz bottle.


What Kind of Paint Do You Use on Leather Sneakers?

Use leather paint like Angelus or Eco-Flo Cova Color paints ($30 for a set of 12 2-oz bottles). You can also use Jacquard textile paints. As long as the leather is prepped, applied, and sealed properly (see instructions above), your leather sneakers should stay looking great for a long time.

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Kit with Brushes and Daubers - Liberty Leather Goods

Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Kit with Brushes and Daubers


What is the Best Paint to Use on Sneakers?

Angelus leather paints are the best to use on sneakers. It can be used on a variety of different surfaces you might have in your sneakers. And it comes in a wide variety of colors—including metallics, pearlescent, glitter paints and neon colors.

Red Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint - Liberty Leather Goods

Red Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint

Leather paints can be used on any object made of leather, pleather, fabric, or even plastic. You can paint shoes, furniture, clothes, accessories, even leather car seats.

Leather paint is easy to find online or in local art or craft stores and even in big box stores like Wal-mart. Have fun and make beautiful stuff. And don’t forget to prepare you leather before you paint! For more details on application methods, click here for my step-by-step guide on how to paint leather.


Yellow Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Jar - Liberty Leather Goods

Yellow Acrylic Angelus Leather Paint Jar


Related Questions


How Should Leather Paints be Stored?

Leather paints should be stored in their original jars. Make sure the lids are on all the way and store it in a cool, dry place.


Can Leather Paint be Used on Wallets?

You can paint wallets with leather paint—whether they’re made of leather or some other material. Just be sure use a finisher (and let it dry) before you put it in your pocket or purse.

Other Resources: