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Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather

You might have a favorite leather jacket or even some leather shoes that you want to paint with acrylic to add color to your style. 

But can you really use acrylic paint on leather?

Yes, you can! Not only is acrylic paint great to use on leather, but it’s also one of the best types of paint to use on any leather items.

In this article we cover using acrylic paint on leather and faux leather items, leather wallets, leather jackets, leather purses, and even leather shoes!

If you’re in a hurry and just need an acrylic paint recommendation, I use this Angelus paint set from Amazon for all my leather painting needs!

However, acrylic paint is more vibrant and rich in color, while also being less expensive than some leather paints. (And spoiler: Many leather paints ARE acrylic-based!)

The Best Acrylic Leather Paint Sets

We’ve looked at about a million different acrylic leather paint sets in the last few days, and we’ve figured out the best options for every kind of painter.

Highest Quality: Angelus Leather Paint Set

Best Value: Snow Cooler Acrylic Paint Set

Best Bulk Buy: Monte Marte Signature Acrylic Paint Set

We considered the following factors for our recommendations:

  • Amazon reviews: We made sure that, on average, customers were happy with the paint set. Nothing below 4.5 stars made it on our list.
  • Leather specialization: Certain paint sets market themselves as a jack-of-all trades. We focused on acrylic paint designed for leather products. 
  • Quality vs. quantity: We weighed both quality and quantity into our awards, ultimately settling on a “cost per ounce” metric. 
  • Product line color diversity: We also wanted to consider which acrylic leather paint products had a la carte colors you could buy to add to your supply.

Why We Recommend Angelus Acrylic Leather Paint

Angelus is a leather paint brand that’s truly specialized in leather. They market themselves as “the most trusted acrylic paint  for custom sneakers, shoe restoration, and shoe care.” However, their paint products can be used for a variety of leather-based projects. 

Key features of the paint include:

  • Semi-gloss finish
  • Non-toxic and water-based 
  • Made in the US

While they’re more expensive than the other options on our list, if you’re serious about quality, Angelus paints are the best option. You can shop Amazon for some of the best deals (as of publishing the paint set is 19% off!)

How to Paint Leather With Acrylic Paint

Step 1: Gather your materials 

You’ll need the following materials for your leather painting project:

Acrylics are thermoplastics and respond to environmental temperatures, which is why you’ll need to properly treat the surface of the leather before you paint. 

Note that if your leather is old or damaged, you’ll need to invest in a leather restoration kit to clean and protect before painting. I highly recommend Furniture Clinic for restoration projects.

Step 2: Prepare the leather 

Before you begin painting, you’ll need to prepare the surface. Surface preparation ensures there isn’t dirt, debris, and grease that interfere with your paint job. 

Before painting, wipe the leather with Isopropyl alcohol to de-grease, clean and remove any coatings, waxes, or oils that may be on the leather. If you find that the paint is not adhering to the leather, it is possible that the leather or faux leather has been treated with a silicone coating.

In this case, you can use a leather deglazer to help remove this coating before trying another, but I find that most of the time alcohol does the trick.

Step 3: Paint! 

The key to good adhesion of acrylic paint to leather objects is applying the paint thinly enough to soak into the leather. If thick paint is used or built up too thickly, there’s a bigger chance the paint will crack when flexed. Once you get the hang on how much paint to put on the brush, you’re ready to create an awesome awesome piece. 

I personally love painting on leather because it goes on so smooth and because the leather is thick and heavy, the paint goes a long way. I have painted shoes, purses and so many more leather items. My last acrylic paint leather project was a leather photo album that I personalized for my family. They absolutely loved it.

Once you’ve painted your leather, you need to seal the acrylic paint to ensure longevity. 

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Leather

Step 1: Add 1 oz. of acrylic paint finisher to 1 pt. of water. 

I highly recommend using this acrylic paint leather finisher from Amazon — it’s affordable and gets the job done. It also provides a semi to high gloss top finish to smooth leather, and it cleans up with soap and water but will not rub off, crack, peel or streak once dry.

Step 2: Apply the diluted paint finisher to the leather using a wool dauber. Apply only a light coat. Do not over-soak the leather. Allow the leather to sit for about five minutes.

Make sure to let it dry for a few hours before you move it, that way it doesn’t crack or ruin the paint. Once your leather is fully dried, the sealant protects it from future chipping or damage. 

Some people chose not to add a sealant to their leather, and just have the bright matte looking acrylic paint which looks cool too. I personally add sealant because it gives it a neat glossy look and added protection.

Leather Paint vs. Acrylic Paint 

Leather paints are acrylic-based paints created specifically for work on leather and faux leather. Though you can also use standard acrylic paints from a craft store, leather paints are a little more expensive but are made to adhere to these types of materials without chipping, peeling, or cracking over time.

Below are some answers for other leather items that you might want to paint with acrylics, as well as how to properly seal your acrylic paint on leather so it doesn’t chip in the future.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather Shoes?

Yes, you definitely can use acrylic paint on leather shoes. Adding acrylic paint to your shoes can liven them up, but you’ll need to make sure you follow these steps!

acrylic paint on leather shoes

How to Paint Leather Shoes

Step 1: Prepare the surface of the shoes with acetone or a degreaser. All shoes have a proactive coating that stops paint from bonding, which is why you need to prep the surface. 

Step 2: Tape over anything you don’t want to paint 

Step 3: Apply your paint and dry with a blow dryer as you go

Step 4: Apply a finish that locks in the sheen you want (e.g. matte or glossy)

This video tutorial from Fieldey TV breaks down each step of painting leather shoes in detail:

No matter your project, painting with acrylics on leather shoes will definitely leave them popping. 

Make sure to seal them for that glossy look, and so they last against the weather.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on a Leather Wallet?

Yes, you can definitely use acrylic paint on a leather wallet, and this is so fun and easy to do! If you have a solid color wallet like black, you can use any color you want, making the acrylic paint really pop out. Below is just a simple example of how cool it looks.

acrylic paint on leather wallet

The last time I painted with acrylics on my leather wallet, I chose a simple but neat flower pattern for it. It took about 2 hours but it was so easy to do and the wallet is still in amazing condition. It’s definitely a one of a kind!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on a Leather Jacket?

acrylic paint on leather jacket

Another yes! You can use acrylic paint on leather jackets, and most designs you see are done with acrylic paint, to really make that person’s jacket unique. You can go crazy with all the colors out there, and get an amazing outcome.

You might see some bikers or regular people with a design on their leather jacket. Well chances are they are hand painted with acrylics are very special to that person since it’s truly a one of a kind piece.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on a Leather Purse?

Painting with acrylics on leather or even faux leather is an great and simple way to completely transform your purse. All you need are acrylic paints and/or leather paints and a paintbrush to get started, which will leave you with a unique and lovely item.

acrylic paint on leather purse

Most retailers that sell vibrant and unique hand made purses or bags are actually painted with acrylic paint. You might not think so because it’s glossy and sealed, but that’s what makes those purses so special and pricey. I have painted a few purses and I always get compliments on them because they really do stand out.

Can You Use Leather Paint For a Couch? 

Yes, you can absolutely use leather paint for your couch. Of course, you’ll want to carefully clean and waterproof the couch before you begin painting. 

leather paint for couch

After you paint, you’ll also need to apply an acrylic finish and sealer to lock in the color. You should pick a finisher that achieves your desired finish, whether that’s a matte or full gloss look. 

Can You Use Leather Paint on Car Seats?

Guess what? You can also paint leather car seats! 

Leather car seats can often become damaged through wear and tear. Painting your leather car seat after you’ve restored it is a great way to reclaim the fresh look and feel of a brand new vehicle. 

leather paint for car seat

Like many painting projects, preparation is key when painting a leather car seat. Make sure you purchase

Check out this awesome guide to restoring leather car interiors: 

Key takeaways from the video include:

  1. Use a leather preparation solvent and alcohol cleaner to prepare the seat
  2. Make sure you get in the all the cracks and crevices
  3. Use 3 to 5 coats of leather binder to strengthen the leather before painting
  4. Using a paint sprayer is one of the best ways to apply your paint 

FAQs About Acrylic Paint on Leather

Let’s break down the most common questions readers have about applying acrylic paint to leather.

How do you keep acrylic paint from cracking on leather?

Using thin layers of acrylic paint will prevent cracks on leather. You should also dry with an air dryer as you paint to ensure each coat doesn’t thicken. 

How do you prepare leather for acrylic paint?

You’ll want to clean and degrease leather before painting. Using Isopropyl alcohol, acetone, or another type of degreaser to ensure the protective coating is removed before you paint. Otherwise, the paint might not stick! 

Does acrylic paint wash off leather?

No, acrylic paint will not wash off leather if you prepare it properly. You should also buy acrylic paint that’s specifically designed for leather for the best adhesion. 

Is acrylic paint good for leather?

Yes, acrylic paint is a great option for painting leather. In fact, most leather paints are acrylic-based. 

What kind of paint will stay on leather? 

Acrylic paint and leather dyes are the best options available. 

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paints are versatile, don’t run in the rain, and can be used as nail polish or fabric paint — so they’re worth considering for your next leather painting project.  

Happy painting!

Editor’s note: This article was updated May 16th, 2021


Acrylic Art World

Annick's passion has been painting with acrylics since her youth. She has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects, from simple acrylic painting to advanced techniques like acrylic pouring.

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