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Painting Leather Shoes (or other leather stuff)

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Your shoes are boring! At least, you seem to think so, otherwise you wouldn't be searching for how to paint them.

Fortunately, painting leather shoes is easy, and can have excellent results. There are communities online of shoe-painters (naturally the internet has a community for everything), but most people have never seen a sweet pair of custom kicks.

For this instructable, we'll be customizing a pair of Florsheim Imperial dress shoes. I wanted them to be spectators (white/black two-tone), but they were $140. The Black version was on sale for less than $50. Paint was less than $5, so the choice was clear.

This method uses Angelus Leather Paint, which is well known as a quality Acrylic leather paint. It stays flexible, comes in a range of colors, and for once, is inexpensive! These instructions would work well on most natural leather articles, such as wallets, purses, BDSM wear, etc. It isn't designed for suede or other textured leathers.

Painting leather shoes is a 3 step process:
  1. Prep leather by removing existing polish and coatings with acetone.
  2. Paint leather with Angelus paints.
  3. Finish with an Acrylic Finisher for a gloss or matte finish.

You will need:
  1. Acetone for removing existing coatings (available at Hardware Store) - nail polish remover NOT recommended.
  2. Angelus Leather Paint (available at many online craft suppliers. I recommend Dharma Trading Company.
  3. Q-tips
  4. Paper Towels
  5. Masking Tape (Quality matters - get a good blue tape, or premium green "Frog Tape")
  6. Paint brushes of various sizes
  7. A shoe.
  8. (optional) Angelus Acrylic Finisher or Angelus Duller
 
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nmcdavid1 month ago
I have a couple of questions. Does this method work on pleather? Can I use any spray paint on pleather or just this paint.
mduncan82 months ago

what do you recommend for boots that are not real leather. *pleather?*

Tater Zoid2 months ago

Mmmmm, GoNuts!

AndieKae5 months ago
What size was the bottle of white paint you used? I'm working on something very similar but I'm unsure of how much I will need. Thank you so much for this tutorial. Can you believe I went to a specialty leather crafting store and they told me it wasn't possible to paint or dye leather that was already painted or dyed? I didn't believe that so I tried using fabric paint and it didn't work (cracked) but I wasn't ready to give up. That's when I decided to search online and found this tutorial. This makes me so happy! But it would be really nice to know what size of bottle to use and how far it goes. (How much is left over?) Thanks again!
phidauex (author)  AndieKae5 months ago
Angelus has a pretty good coverage rate - I think I used a little less than an ounce of white paint to paint the white parts on the shoes in the instructable, even accounting for an extra coat or two since I was painting over a black surface.
AndieKae phidauex5 months ago
Wow, amazing that so little makes such great coverage. Thank you so much for the quick and helpful response.
Silvermomma6 months ago
Wow! I have a pair of suede Dansko clog that I would like to change. Suede is the operative issue.  I assume I need to do additional preparation but don't know what.  Any suggestions?
phidauex (author)  Silvermomma6 months ago
Also, you may wish to look into Angelus Suede Dye. It doesn't have as wide a range of colors, but is designed for Suede. I've never used it before, but Angelus tends to make good products so I bet it works as claimed. http://www.dharmatrading.com/dyes/angelus-suede-dye-and-dressing.html
phidauex (author)  Silvermomma6 months ago
Suede isn't a great candidate for painting... That said, there were some suede accents on my wife's shoes that we painted. It did work, but we had to do a LOT of coats to get over the texture of the suede (maybe 10-15 coats, with partial drying between), and it ended up fairly stiff there. I'd recommend trying a small patch of some scrap suede before hitting the shoes to make sure the resulting look and stiffness is OK with you.
Hi I bought a nike majestic court shoe and now thinking of painting the "nike swoosh" from its original blue to red. I just wanted to ask your guys opinion whether it works or not. Because they are far not in the same tones. Thanks for advance.
Justjanice1 year ago
If I want to paint a random design all over most of the shoe, and leave the background color as is, should I acetone the whole shoe? Will the finish restore the surface where I have not painted at the end?
rachel1 year ago
Fantastic work. I am inspired. I'm going to stop ruling out shoes that I love the style of just because I hate the color... This may be bad for my budget!
chris09102 years ago
Thanks for your effort in giving us tips on how to use angelus paint, i really foudn your post helpful, keep up the good work, also you might want to see this website about angelus paint
This is great! The finished product looks fantastic. :)
tarepanday2 years ago
I saw that your doc mar shoes have red stitching, did you paint it red too?
phidauex (author)  tarepanday2 years ago
Yes, I painted the stitching as well! Took a small brush and some patience, but it looks pretty good.
inquisitive2 years ago
Genius! I am a Shoe Girl at a local dept store and always want to bend the rules a bit and have something unique-time to scout the clearance racks with a new perspective!
So is the finisher just one coat needed and is it waterproofing at all? Could the shoes be polished with clear all over later or cleaned with the Dr. Marten's Wonder Balsam do you think?
phidauex (author)  inquisitive2 years ago
Bending the rules is one of my favorite hobbies. ;)

The finisher works well with just a single coat - it is very light. As for waterproofing... The final dry paint and finisher is essentially waterproof, it won't wash off. However, I'm sure it is no Nikwax. For "casual" use I'm sure they are as waterproof as you could ask for.

I'm sure you could continue to maintain it with most neutral polishes or leather treatments. Not sure how it would react to some of the more specialty items like Nikwax, but you could always try a small area first.
Warlrosity2 years ago
Holy jesus, those black/white ones are amazing. This is now a favorite.
phidauex (author)  Warlrosity2 years ago
Thanks! I just wore them to my wedding, and they were a big hit. Painted my wife's shoes, too!
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