A Step by Step Beginners Guide on How to Paint Leather

Painting leather is an excellent step in restoring old leather items and making them look attractive again. Yes, the right color change can make your leather couch, bag, or jacket emerge lustrously, but this process requires intricate skills.

Whether you want to decorate new leather pieces or refurbish an old hide-covered artifact, it is imperative to learn how to paint leather. With this knowledge and appropriate supplies, leather painting projects would be fun.

This guide covers easy steps involved in painting leather and reveals the tools needed for the success of your design.

Leather Painting Materials Needed

While the painting supplies needed for this kind of project vary based on the item you are working with, it would help get these items listed below.

  • Leather cleaner/deglazer or mild dishwashing soap
  • Leather paints
  • Wool daubers or cotton rags
  • Paint finisher
  • Dropcloth or newspaper
  • Foam brush
  • Waterproofer
  • Clean rags or paper towels

how to paint leather

5 Steps Involved in Leather Painting

Suppose you are handling a new leather project or engaged in improving an old piece, painting in one exciting way to give off a better result. Most DIYers are on the lookout for guides on “how to paint leather wallets,” “how to paint leather sofa,” “how to paint leather shoes,” and similar topics.

If you fall within such a category, you should read through these steps on painting leather articles without any hassles.

Prep the Leather Item

Dust or dirt accumulations on the leather surface would leave a messy result after painting the piece. Again, the key to better adhesion the paint to the leather artifact is working on a clean surface. Thus, it is crucial to start with standard preps-cleaning the leather surface.

It is best to disassemble the piece to get better access to every area of the leather item. Kindly damp a clean cotton rag with a suitable leather cleaner or mild dishwashing soap, and gently wipe the leather item’s surface.

You can further decrease the material with rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol to remove previous coatings oils sitting on the leather. Fine-grit sandpaper would come in handy for coatings that appear difficult to come off. Once done, you should let the object dry for 15-30 minutes.

Make Ready the Paints

There are varying paints sold in craft stores, and hardware shops-you can buy your desired paint color for this project. Alternatively, you can mix a couple of paints to get the desired hue you need.

Be sure you get sufficient paints that would cover the piece in several layers to give off an even outcome. It is ideal for checking the paint’s consistency, as you wouldn’t want it to be too thick or thin. Kindly mix with some water, adding a little at a time to create a good consistency.

Apply the Paint in Layers

Using a brush, start rubbing the paint onto the leather object in thin layers, and let each dry before applying another (if needed). Before covering the entire leather piece, it would help test the paint on scrap leather or paper.

Employ masking tape to protect small areas that you don’t want to paint—Mask areas such as the sole of your shoes and the legs of your couch. Use paper or plastic to cover larger surface areas and hold the edges with tape.

Rub on the Finisher

After the paint on the leather cures, apply some finisher on the piece in thin coats. Get a brush or rag and rub, letting each coat dry before applying another. Then, let the finishing dry and sit for 24 hours before using the leather item.

Please note that a finisher would seal the painted surface and shield it from scuffs and scratches. There are different finisher options for the leather, and it is best to look for one compatible with your painted leather.

Waterproof the Piece

While you can choose to skip this step, it is a great initiative for leather fittings or items that are likely to get in contact with moisture. So, if your painted leather accessory will be out in the snow or rain, you can get moisture-resistant finishers like Mod Podge Outdoor or Scotchguard to shield it from the elements.

First, read the product’s directives and apply them to your painted leather, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using Acrylic Paint on Leather

Acrylic paints come in handy for creating customizable designs on leather items, ranging from jackets to shoes. This paint option is long-lasting, and you can easily remove acrylic paint stains after accidental spills.

But the most important part is knowing how to paint leather with acrylic paint. How well this task turns out would often hang on your techniques. Kindly follow the instructions below to paint and seal acrylic on your most treasured leather items.

  • Before getting started, wipe the leather surface with a cloth damped in an appropriate cleaning solution.
  • After the leather surface dries, apply the chosen acrylic paint in thin layers and let the previous layer dry completely (let it sit for at least 2 hours) before you run another.
  • After the paint dries, seal the leather with a finisher and let it dry before using the leather artifact.

Materials Needed

  • Towel or wool dauber
  • Water-based acrylic paint
  • 2-inch paintbrush

Additional Tips and Tricks

  • Kindly ensure you conduct leather painting projects in well-ventilated areas.
  • Always choose the best leather paint for such work to achieve the best outcome.
  • Multiple paint coats are the key to achieving an even better outcome, so ensure you rub the paint in numerous thin coat layers.
  • Be sure to apply a sealant after painting leather objects, as it makes the result long-lasting and prevents the paint from cracking after a while
  • It is ideal for applying a generous amount of polish or shoe cream after painting footwear, as this helps rehydrate the material and make it look elegant.

Paint Leather


Q: What paint type can I use on leather?

While there are various paints for leather, most leather enthusiasts employ water-based acrylic paints for leather projects. Acrylic paints are useful for decorating and repairing leather jackets, boots, and even belts.

What’s more, acrylic paints are easy to clean and reapply if needed. Still, folks can use other paint options such as metallic and pearlescent leather paints. You can use appropriate dyes to color your leather artifacts too.

Q: How do you seal acrylic paint on leather?

The first step to sealing acrylic paints on leather is ensuring the paint is dried and the surface is free from contaminants. Then, squirt a generous amount of paint finisher onto the leather and let it dry.

You can further protect the paintwork from snow and rain with a waterproofing spray.

Q: Can you use hairspray to seal an acrylic painting?

While some people recommend using hairsprays for sealing paints, you should know that this is not the best option for acrylic paints. Both formulations can react badly, causing the paint to melt, which is bad for projects.

Thus, you should search for a suitable finisher to complete the job and enjoy your painting.

Q: Can you paint leather with nail polish?

Nail polish is not ideal for leather items, as it can stain real leather and cause further damages if you try to remove it. But, some DIYers employ nail polish for smoothing out snags on leather surfaces (except suede leather).

Q: Can I paint my leather couch?

With any color of leather paint, you can design your leather sofa to look great. You can transform an old leather upholstery using the right paint and supplies. First, you must learn how to paint leather furniture to help you achieve the desired results.

Then, get the needed materials and journey through your leather couch painting project.

Q: How can I change the color of my leather couch?

You can change the leather color of your couch following these simple steps explained below:

  • Arrange your supplies and prep your work environment
  • Clean the sofa’s surface using a good leather cleaning solution
  • Sand the protective coat of the piece slightly using fine-grit sandpaper to remove loose finishing on the furniture.
  • Wipe the surface again with cotton damped in isopropyl alcohol-an etching agent
  • Rub the new colorant and let it dry before conditioning the leather

Q: What paint can one use on leather furniture?

Acrylic paint is a great option for upholstered leather items, as they adhere to the piece and rarely peel or crack. However, you can also choose other color finishes like latex and polyurethane finishes. Please note that these colorants have varying properties and flexibility.

Wrap up

Leather painting is a form of art and gives you the power to design and create leather accessories yourself. This adventure is exciting, allowing you to reuse your old leather items and improve leather pieces.

Whether or not you are a leather expert, you can paint leather objects without any difficulties. You have to know how to paint leather and employ the appropriate materials to achieve great success-this guide can help you out.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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