How to Paint Leather: The Ultimate Guide to Customizing Your Favorite Items


Leather is a versatile and durable material used in a wide range of products, from shoes and bags to furniture and car interiors. However, over time, leather can become scuffed, stained, or faded, losing its original lustre and beauty. Fortunately, painting leather can be an effective way to give it a new lease of life, transforming it into something fresh and vibrant.

If you’ve ever thought about painting leather, you might have some questions. What kind of paint should you use? Will it look good? How long will it last? In this blog post, we’ll answer all those questions and more, providing a comprehensive guide to painting leather. We’ll cover the essential steps, from cleaning the leather to choosing the right paint and applying it in a way that ensures a smooth, even finish. So whether you want to revive an old jacket, upcycle a piece of furniture, or create a unique accessory, read on to learn how to paint leather like a pro.

What Exacly is paint leather?

Painting leather is a process of applying a new layer of paint or dye to the surface of leather products, such as shoes, bags, furniture, or car interiors. This can be done to change the color, repair scuffs and scratches, or to give the leather a new look and feel. The paint or dye used in this process is specifically designed for leather and provides a durable and long-lasting finish.

There are different types of paint or dye that can be used to paint leather, such as acrylic, oil-based, or alcohol-based. Some paints are formulated to be flexible and stretch with the leather, while others are designed to be more rigid and long-lasting. The type of paint or dye you choose will depend on the specific project you are working on and the desired outcome. Proper preparation and application techniques are crucial to achieving a smooth and even finish that will look great and last for a long time.

Why should you paint leather?

  1. Change the color: If you have a leather item that you love but the color is outdated, faded, or simply no longer matches your style, painting it can be a great way to give it a fresh look. With the right paint or dye, you can transform a brown leather bag into a vibrant blue or a worn-out pair of shoes into a sleek black.
  2. Repair scuffs and scratches: Leather can become scuffed or scratched over time, making it look worn and damaged. Painting the leather can help to hide these imperfections and make the item look like new again.
  3. Add a personal touch: Painting leather allows you to add your own personal touch to the item. You can create a unique design, add a monogram, or incorporate a favorite color or pattern.
  4. Save money: Buying new leather items can be expensive, but painting an existing item can be a cost-effective way to give it a new look without breaking the bank.

Overall, painting leather can be a fun and rewarding DIY project that allows you to breathe new life into an old item, express your creativity, and create a look that is uniquely your own.

How To Paint Leather Overview

First of all, the type of paint or dye you choose is crucial. Using Angelus leather paint – it’s a game-changer! The range of colors is fantastic, and the paint is specifically formulated for leather, so it won’t crack or peel over time. Plus, it’s water-based, which makes it easy to clean up with just soap and water.

When it comes to applying the paint, there are a few methods you can try. Personally, use a sponge brush to apply thin, even coats of paint. This ensures that the color is even and that the leather retains its texture and softness. Another method is to use an airbrush, which can create a more professional-looking finish, but requires a bit more skill and equipment.

Of course, before you start painting, you need to prepare the leather properly. This means cleaning it thoroughly with a leather cleaner and removing any existing finish. You also need to make sure that the leather is dry before you start painting.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all leather can be painted. Suede, for example, can be a bit tricky to work with, and some types of leather that have a natural wax or oil finish may not take the paint well. So make sure you do your research before you start.

Overall, painting leather is a fantastic way to give new life to old leather items. With the right materials and techniques, you can create a look that is uniquely yours and will last for years to come. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised at just how easy and fun it can be!

Leather Coloring Ingredients and their Comparison

  1. Leather paint: As I mentioned earlier, Angelus leather paint is a popular choice for painting leather. It’s water-based, flexible, and comes in a wide range of colors. Other brands of leather paint to consider include Fiebing’s and Tandy Leather. It’s important to choose a paint that is specifically formulated for leather, as this will ensure that the paint adheres properly and won’t crack or peel over time.
  2. Leather cleaner: Before you start painting, you’ll need to clean the leather thoroughly to remove any dirt, oil, or other contaminants. A leather cleaner like Lexol or Leather Honey can help to prepare the leather for painting. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully, as some cleaners may require a bit of time to fully penetrate the leather and lift away dirt and grime.
  3. Sandpaper: Depending on the condition of the leather, you may need to sand it lightly to create a smooth surface for painting. A fine-grit sandpaper like 320-grit should be sufficient for this task. Sand the leather lightly and evenly, taking care not to sand too aggressively or create uneven patches.
  4. Paintbrush or sponge brush: You’ll need a brush to apply the paint to the leather. A foam sponge brush can work well, as it creates a smooth, even layer of paint without leaving brush marks. However, some people prefer to use a traditional paintbrush for more precise details and touch-ups.
  5. Masking tape: If you’re painting a leather item with multiple sections or colors, you may want to use masking tape to create clean lines and prevent the colors from bleeding into one another. Make sure to use a low-tack tape that won’t leave residue or damage the leather.
Leather paintComes in a range of colors, flexible, durableCan be expensive, some brands may not work well
Leather cleanerRemoves dirt and oil, prepares leather for paintCan be time-consuming to apply and wait for
SandpaperSmooths out leather, creates even surfaceCan damage leather if not used carefully
Paintbrush/spongeEasy to apply, creates smooth finishMay leave brush marks or streaks
Masking tapeCreates clean lines, prevents color bleedingCan damage leather if left on too long

Overall, all of these ingredients are essential for a successful leather painting project. Choosing the right brand of leather paint and properly cleaning and preparing the leather are key to achieving a smooth, even finish. Sanding and using masking tape can help to create a professional-looking result, and using a foam sponge brush or paintbrush can help to ensure that the paint goes on evenly. With a little bit of practice and patience, you can create a one-of-a-kind leather item that you’ll be proud to show off.

Equipment for Painting Leather

Leather itemWhat you’ll be painting
Leather cleanerTo clean and prepare the leather surface for paint
SandpaperTo create a smooth surface on the leather
Masking tapeTo create clean lines and prevent colors bleeding
Leather paintThe type of paint specifically made for leather
Paintbrush or spongeTo apply the paint to the leather surface
GlovesTo protect your hands from paint and chemicals
Respirator maskTo protect your lungs from paint fumes
Drop cloth or paperTo protect the surrounding area from paint spills

It’s important to use the right equipment and tools to ensure that your leather painting project is successful. The leather cleaner will help to ensure that the surface is properly prepared for the paint, while sandpaper will create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Masking tape will help to create clean lines, and leather paint is a must-have for a long-lasting, professional finish. Gloves and a respirator mask will protect you from harmful chemicals and fumes, and a drop cloth or paper will protect the surrounding area from any spills or drips. With the right equipment and tools, you’ll be able to create a beautiful, unique painted leather item that you’ll be proud to show off.

Step by Step Instruction on How to Paint Leather

  1. Clean the leather surface: Before you start painting, it’s important to clean the surface of the leather item thoroughly. Use a leather cleaner and a soft cloth to remove any dirt or oils that may be on the surface.
  2. Sand the leather: Use sandpaper to create a smooth surface on the leather. This will help the paint adhere better to the leather surface.
  3. Mask off any areas: Use masking tape to cover any areas that you don’t want to paint. This will help to create clean lines and prevent colors from bleeding.
  4. Choose your paint: Choose a leather paint that is specifically designed for use on leather. Make sure to read the instructions on the paint to ensure that you are using it correctly.
  5. Apply the paint: Apply the paint using a paintbrush or sponge, depending on the size of the area you are painting. Start with thin, even coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next coat. Repeat this process until you achieve the desired color and coverage.
  6. Allow the paint to dry: Once you have finished applying the paint, allow it to dry completely. This may take several hours, depending on the type of paint you are using.
  7. Apply a sealant: Once the paint is completely dry, apply a sealant to protect the surface of the leather. Follow the instructions on the sealant to ensure that you are applying it correctly.
  8. Enjoy your newly painted leather item: Once the sealant has dried, your newly painted leather item is ready to use! Enjoy your unique and personalized leather item.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can successfully paint leather and create a beautiful, long-lasting finish. Just remember to choose the right equipment and materials, and to take your time to ensure that each step is done correctly.


Can any type of leather be painted?

Not all types of leather can be painted. You should use a leather paint that is specifically designed for the type of leather you are working with. Some types of leather, such as suede, may not take paint as well as others.

Do I need to prep the leather before painting?

Yes, it’s important to clean and prep the surface of the leather before painting. This will ensure that the paint adheres well to the surface and provides a long-lasting finish.

What type of paint should I use to paint leather?

You should use a paint that is specifically designed for use on leather. These paints are flexible and will not crack or peel like other types of paint.

Can I use regular acrylic paint on leather?

No, regular acrylic paint is not designed for use on leather and may crack or peel over time. It’s important to use a paint that is specifically designed for use on leather.

How do I protect the painted leather surface?

Once the paint is dry, you can protect the surface by applying a sealant. This will help to protect the surface from wear and tear, and ensure that the paint lasts for a long time.

Can I change the color of a leather item that has already been painted?

Yes, you can change the color of a leather item that has already been painted. You will need to follow the same steps as if you were painting it for the first time, but you may need to sand the surface to remove any existing paint before applying the new color.

How long does it take to paint leather?

The length of time it takes to paint leather will depend on the size of the item and the number of coats of paint required. Generally, it will take several hours to complete the process, including drying time between coats.

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