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

Step 1: Prep the Shoe

Prep the shoe by washing any dirt or muck off the shoe.

Then mask any areas you don't want to get paint on. Masking tape quality does matter - use a good 3M blue tape, or the fancier green Frog Tape to get clean lines. In this case I masked the area above the spot I will be painting, because the shape of the leather and the size of my brushes will allow me to avoid painting the brogue.

In a well ventilated area, use the acetone to remove any existing coatings or polish. Use the Q-tips and paper towels to scrub any exposed areas. It should take on a dull appearance. Keep cleaning with acetone until you stop seeing polish come off on your towels! This step is crucial for good adhesion!
<p>Hi. Are you still in the funkin' shoes up business? I want to paint some Doc Martens for my girlfriend for Christmas. I'm either going to get a blank pair and do them Aqua blue then paint daisy's on, or get a already blue pair and paint daisy's on (using your method). I was just wondering if you've done Doc's before and if you had any more advice/tips for me...</p>
Sounds cool! I'd recommend starting with a blue pair if you can - less painting to do, and the original blue color will be more durable than the paint coating. Either way, the big things are to use acetone or Angelus deglazer to remove the surface finish under where you are painting, and then using the clear acrylic finisher (matte or glossy) as a topcoat to seal it in. Have fun, the Angelus paints are really easy to work with.
<p>GREAT tutorial! Easy to understand, to-the-point, but detailed enough to lead us in the right direction. The only thing I'd add would be- If you decide to get the (fancy) green frog tape...after you have masked off all the necessary areas, get a (slightly) damp rag and wipe it over ALL of the frog tape. Don't scrub, just wipe it. You'll be able to see the tape appear to absorb the moisture. Reason being- green frog tape ONLY seals once it is wet...and many paints tend to run underneath tiny creases in the tape, onto areas that you don't want them to be...but sealing it PRIOR to painting will insure that all of your areas are perfectly masked off, and leave flawlessly-perfect lines. <br><br>Just a thought! Either way....thank you for this instructable!</p>
Thanks for the tip! I didn't know that the green tape worked that way.
I let someone paint my shoes but I'm not a big fan of the work. Would white spray paint turn them back white? Here's picture of them.
I let someone paint my shoes but I'm not a big fan of the work. Would white spray paint turn them back white? Here's picture of them.
<p>Hi, will this work on leather football boots? Is the acetone still necessary if the boots are already white?</p>
It would probably work on football boots. The paint will probably need touching up more often when people are running into each other, but I painted a pair of work boots that have held up pretty well.<br><br>I'd still recommend using the acetone - the main reason for it is to remove the top surface of the polish, which can prevent the paint from sticking. Try a hidden area (like under the tongue) to make sure it doesn't remove the white color too much at the same time.
Will this work on patent leather that is cracked? Please let me know as soon as possible!
Well, it will work in the sense that you can paint it on, but patent leather would require a little more surface prep for good attachment, and no paint will completely mask or hide cracks.<br><br>You can contact Angelus for recommendations with their paints, or just give it a try.
<p>would love to have my pair of white nike airforce 1 painted. If anybody does this service plz help me</p>
<p>Hi! If it's not leather shoes, I can do that :) just find me on Facebook and PM me</p>
I do custom sneakers. Email me at pumped.upkicks@yahoo.com
<p>Hi, I have a pair of Dansko white leather shoes I wore in nursing school, I am now done and would love my brother to paint something on them to make them unique and wearable as they were expensive and I want to get more wear out of them. Will this work on them? </p>
Probably! The main thing to be successful with the Angelus paints is to make sure the leather is very clean, and that the polish is removed with acetone before painting. But if you do that, then there is no reason it shouldn't work even on well-worn leather.
Wtf is pleather? By REAL leather even at the charity shop and crack on! Handbags, biker leathers, shoes, anything. Your mind is your only obstruction
I have a couple of questions. Does this method work on pleather? Can I use any spray paint on pleather or just this paint.
<p>what do you recommend for boots that are not real leather. *pleather?*</p>
<p>Mmmmm, GoNuts!</p>
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!
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.
Wow, amazing that so little makes such great coverage. Thank you so much for the quick and helpful response.
Wow! I have a pair of suede Dansko clog that I would like to change. Suede is the operative issue. &nbsp;I assume I need to do additional preparation but don't know what. &nbsp;Any suggestions?
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
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.
This is such a creative idea! I was wondering if you happen to know of any <a href="http://www.shoecrafters.com/cart/page.html?chapter=0&id=3" rel="nofollow">leather shoe repairs in lasalle il</a>? I would like to get my shoes fixed before I paint them. Thank you for your help!
Wow! Those really look nice! I have a friend who has some just like that that he really loves! He is always talking to me about <a href="http://www.shoecrafters.com/cart/page.html?chapter=0&id=3" rel="nofollow">leather shoe repair lasalle il</a> and how they can make his shoes look so good! Thanks again for sharing!
Hi I bought a nike majestic court shoe and now thinking of painting the &quot;nike swoosh&quot; 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.
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?
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!
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 <a href="http://www.angeluspaint.com" rel="nofollow">angelus paint</a>
This is great! The finished product looks fantastic. :)
I saw that your doc mar shoes have red stitching, did you paint it red too?
Yes, I painted the stitching as well! Took a small brush and some patience, but it looks pretty good.
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!<br>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?<br>
Bending the rules is one of my favorite hobbies. ;)<br><br>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 &quot;casual&quot; use I'm sure they are as waterproof as you could ask for.<br><br>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.
Holy jesus, those black/white ones are amazing. This is now a favorite.
Thanks! I just wore them to my wedding, and they were a big hit. Painted my wife's shoes, too!

About This Instructable


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Bio: I'm an engineer in the renewable energy world, and help run a cooperative workshop makerspace in Boulder, CO called the Phoenix Asylum.
More by phidauex: Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO Dye Your Shoes (or other leather goods) Dynamic Motor Balancing - with Sugru and an iPhone!
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