How To Paint Your Shoes At Home

Sneakers Painted
Sneakers Painted

Do you feel your shoes are boring? Do you wish to add that eye-catching look to your shoes? You’re at the right place. Read on as I take you through everything you need to get your shoes from that casual boring thing to a mini-masterpiece that wins hearts at first sight.

You would agree with me shoes are easily noticeable. It is even safe to say; it is one of the few things people would notice first about you — so it is only important, in all fairness, to ensure you don’t compliment your outfit with a boring plain shoe.

Also, painting shoes can prove as a very good way to resuscitate an old or previously used shoe to its best. Certainly, sand or grass stain would get to it, so why not beat that with shoe paint?

Over the years, I’ve painted several shoes — I almost don’t have a plain shoe — and at my fingertip, I’ve valuable lessons I learned along the way. The ones I learned the soft way, and yes, those I learned the hurtful ways.

I’ve prepared this guide, experienced enough in shoe painting, to ensure you make no mistake when you paint your shoes. Carefully consume the tips to give your shoes the best treat.

Choosing paint and design

Selecting paints

You might just wonder what kind of paint to use on shoes. Well, for your paint, you’ve several options in acrylic paint, leather paint, spray paint, fabric paint, or paint markers, which are all considered the best paint for shoes.

While you might have sentiments as regards each option, the deciding factor is largely the material of the shoe. Leather or spray paints are believed to be the best fit for leather or vinyl made shoes, while fabric paints are the best for fabric made shoes, and paint markers for more detailed designs. All of these paints come in varying colors with a brush for a smooth and lasting job on shoes.

Creating a design

On your choice of design; if it is a single shade, which is the ideal option for a starter, it is basic as selecting your colors. But for more elaborate designs, it is advisable, in advance, to sketch out the design ideas on paper.

In recent times, with the advent of more digital designs tools, you can create a design or use a template on your device.

Preparing the shoes

Reproduce the design with pencil on shoe’s surface

After you might have selected your preferred design, the next is to make an outline of the design on the surface of the shoe. While at this, it’s essential to ensure to keep the marks relatively light, so as, even under the lightest of paints, the marks would not be noticeable.

Before going ahead to consummate the pencil drawing with a marker, it’s pivotal to double-check and ensure that both sides of the shoe are symmetrical.

Envelope your workspace with paper

It is most suitable, for the painting, to get a flat steady table. Before proceeding with the painting, it is in your interest to cover it in total craft paper or newspaper. Paint drips or spills are almost unavoidable, this would protect your table from damage with colors.

However, for white or light fabric shoes, you should be careful with the use of newspaper as it can cause black smudges on the fabric.

Practice first on an old pair of shoes

For a first-timer, to be safe, it is important to test your skills with abandoned shoes. This gives room for assessment and improvement and allows you to see if you have the right color and texture in the paint.

Clean the surface of the shoes

So as for the paint to easily adhere, the surface of the shoe should be properly cleaned off dirt before painting. For natural leather shoes, a cotton ball should be introduced into alcohol, and gently rubbed on the surface of the shoe.

For manmade leather, the cotton balls should be soaked in acetone, and likewise rubbed over the surface of the shoe. For fabric shoes, a rag with water and soap should do it. The shoe should be allowed some time to dry after cleaning.

Sand away shiny leather shoes

Some leather shoes are known for their shiny appearance, which is a difficult feature in making paint stick to the surface of the shoe. To get rid of this, employ high-grade sandpaper to run over the shoe until you can notice a dull appearance on the shoe.

Look over the shoe again to ensure the dull appearance is widely and evenly distributed on the shoe.

Cover the inside and sole with tape

For surfaces of the shoes that are exempted from the painting, thin strips of tape should be attached to them. This can go around the soles of the shoe. And for the inside of the shoe, it can be stuffed with newspaper so as to just maintain the shape during painting.

Applying the paint

Use brush with short strokes for fabric or leather paint

If you are using either fabric or leather paint, dip the brush in the paint, and then map the shoe with the paint using short strokes. Refill your brush when due, and you totally coat the surface of the shoe with paint as designed.

Use sponge for a partial painting with fabric or leather paint

This is the best approach for the kind of a double or layered color of thing — like the paint and the original color both on the shoe. Get your paint into a bowl. Get a soft sponge. Dip the edge of the sponge into the bowl, and carefully press the sponge on the surface of the shoe.

Use spray paint for a single color

Get spray paint with a tight nozzle so as to avoid over-spraying. Hold your spraying can some little distance away. Press firmly the nozzle to cover the entire surface of the shoe with paint. Ensure to cover all areas.

Allow the shoe to dry

After painting, leave the shoe to dry on the paper-covered table for at least 1 hour. If needed, you can apply another dose of paint, until you achieve the preferred result.

Before you start to rock your shoe, you might have to leave for 2-3 days so as to allow inside — if paint escaped there — and outside to properly dry.

Get rid of the protective tape

Disengage each piece of the tape, by grabbing the end of each piece and applying pressure until it pulls away. Do this in all areas to totally remove all pieces. For stubborn pieces of the tape, you can use the metal tweezer to get rid of them.

Apply acrylic sealer / avoid washing

Exposure to rain might damage your paint. If you have this fear, it is best to address it by spraying your finished shoes with acrylic sealer spray for cloth shoes or clear matte spray paint for leather shoes.

This, however, does not mean it is safe to wash your shoes in the machine. When dirty, it is best to clean the spot with a warm soaked cloth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of paint do you use on shoes?

As discussed above, the kind of paint is hugely dependent on the material of the shoe to be designed. There are several options of suitable paints for shoes such as fabric paint, leather paint, acrylic paint, or spray paint.

How do you keep acrylic paint from cracking on shoes?

To prevent acrylic paint from cracking is to follow some simple guidelines religiously; use a thin layer, allow it to dry, and put on another.  Also, ensure to use even and short brushstrokes.

Does acrylic paint work on shoes?

Yes. You can paint your shoes with acrylic paints.

How do you seal shoes after painting?

With acrylic sealer spray, you can protect your painted finishes on shoes.

How to remove paint from shoes?

How to get paint off shoes is also a very important question as it is human to grow out of a present like for a particular design. To remove the paint, you would need to brush off the paint, then apply a soapy mixture to the paint, scrape off the softened part, then rub with a detergent solution, and in case the pain persists, use a nail polish remover.


Painting shoes is always an exciting way to give life to those plain or old kicks. As there are several paints, it can get quite confusing, and any mistake could cost you your shoes.

Well, knowing well I can provide the answer to your how-to-paint shoe question, I have prepared this detailed yet precise guide, so as to ensure you have a flawless painting experience when next you try. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Drop your comments below.

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