Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather?

Acrylic paint can be used to cover soft surfaces including leather. Acrylic paint can be used on any type of leather product from leather shoes to furniture to bags, clothes, wallets, belts, and so on.

The popular go-to option would be to use leather paint, but acrylic paint is a great substitute and is cheaper. Acrylic paint comes in different hues of vibrant colors so you have several options at your disposal.

Knowing you can use acrylic paint on leather isn’t enough information to carry out your painting project, the precautions you take or the technique you make use of goes a long way in determining how well your leather will turn out.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather

Can you use normal acrylic paint on leather?

You can paint leather with normal acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is generally thicker than leather paint, so you have to dilute it before using it. One other thing to note is to seal its surface to keep the paint from wearing off or cracking over time.

What’s the difference between leather acrylic paint and regular acrylic paint?

Leather acrylic paints are produced specifically for use on leather or faux leather products or accessories to give the leather a natural, stained look. Regular acrylic paints are thicker and leather doesn’t absorb them well unless watered down.

They are a good substitute you can use if you can’t get leather acrylic paint, and they are more affordable than leather acrylic paints. However, leather acrylic paints have a higher chance of not cracking or peeling off leather over time.                                          

Is acrylic paint waterproof on leather?

Acrylic paint is a polymer which means it is water-resistant, but at the same time, it is porous and will gradually absorb water. When that happens, your leather will get softer, but it can be easily dried to remove the moisture. So technically, no, acrylic paint is not waterproof on leather.

Can you use acrylic paint on leather shoes?

Yes, you can. Leather over time may become less appealing due to exposure to heat or water. One way of revitalizing it is to coat it with paint and acrylic paint is a perfect choice.

Related: Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Leather Shoes

How to paint leather with acrylic paint

Before you can start painting your leather with acrylic, you need to get isopropyl alcohol to degrease and clean your surface, a leather deglazer to get rid of the leather glaze and a brush. The leather has to be treated before coating with paint because acrylic paints are thermoplastics and they react to the temperature of the surroundings.

You start by preparing your leather. Wipe the surface of the leather with isopropyl alcohol to clean, de-grease, and remove oils, waxes, or coatings that may be on the leather. Try to apply some paint to a portion of the leather to see if it sticks. If it doesn’t, it’s probably because it was treated with silicone coating by the manufacturers.

Remember you got a leather deglazer? Yes, it’s exactly for this purpose. Make use of it to remove the silicone coating and you’re good to go. If your leather doesn’t have silicone coating or you’ve successfully removed it, the next step is to paint.

The trick to getting this right is applying the paint on the leather in thin coats. If you use thick coats, it will crack later on. After mixing your paint with an equal part of water, dip the brush into the paint bucket or bowl and gently apply thin, even coats of paint layers on the leather.

You may see oil based paint at first, and that’s normal. Just focus on applying thin, even coats. If you’d like to add an extra coat, allow the first one to dry and then add another layer of coat. Repeat until you achieve your desired shade of color.

After painting the leather, you have to finish by sealing it.

How to seal acrylic paint on leather

To help maintain the design or color of your leather, you have to seal the paint on the leather. To do this, you’ll need a sealant or an acrylic paint finisher. Here’s a step-by-step procedure to seal acrylic paint on leather.

  • Clean leather surface:

Use a clean towel or cloth to wipe the surface of your leather material or accessory clean to remove dust or dirt.

  • Seal in bursts:

You can either use a sealant spray or a liquid paint finisher. The sprays are easier to use compared to the liquid paint finisher as you’d have to apply the latter the same way you applied acrylic paint on your leather accessory.

If using an acrylic paint finisher, mix 1 oz. of the finisher with 1 pt. of water and then apply lightly on the leather. You can use a wool dauber to apply the finisher and make sure to apply lightly and not too much. Keeping applying layers of thin coats on the leather until you have about 20 layers of coat. Make sure to allow each coat to sit for about 5 minutes before applying another.

It’s so much easier and faster if you’re using a sealant spray. Just repeat the same procedure with the finisher.

  • Use waterproof spray:

This step ensures your leather seal remains intact. It gives an additional layer of protection and resistance to moisture. You can make use of any brand of waterproofing spray as long as it works with the acrylic paint you used in the first place.

Check for instructions on the waterproof spray and follow them to apply it to your leather. After applying, leave it to dry for a day.

How to prevent acrylic paint from cracking on shoes

One major way of preventing your leather shoes from cracking, in the long run, is applying thin coats when painting. Painting the leather shoe in the flex-direction can also help prevent cracking.

Also, don’t mix two acrylic paint brands. Use acrylic paint from a single brand and do not dry under direct sunlight or heat.

Can you paint on leather jackets with acrylics?

Interestingly, a lot of the designs you see on leather jackets are painted with acrylics. So yes, you can use acrylics to make nice designs on leather jackets.

How to Paint Leather Jackets with Acrylic Paint

Painting leather jackets with acrylic paint is quite easy. You’ll need a paintbrush (preferably a round one), tape, gloves, a stencil, and a ruler.

Once you have all your tools ready, prepare your jacket by cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol. If you notice a shine on the surface after applying isopropyl alcohol, use sandpaper to remove the coating on the jacket. Make sure to do so gently and in a circular motion. Once you’re done with that, clean the jacket with a damp towel.

Use your stencil, ruler, and tape to map out your design on the jacket. Once you have that ready, you can start painting. Dip the round brush in the paint bowl and test it on another material before applying it on your jacket.

Apply paint to the design layout on the jacket in thin strokes. Make sure to have diluted the paint beforehand. If you make any mistake, use a damp towel to wipe the paint on that area off. Allow the first coat to dry and apply a minimum of three more coats or until you get your desired result.

How long does it take acrylic paint to dry on leather?

Acrylic paint takes a couple of hours to completely dry. The sealant and waterproofing sprays take a day to dry completely. You may decide to let the leather dry for up to 2 days, but make sure to wait at least 3 days before washing. Also, never dry with direct heat or sunlight to avoid cracking. Instead, dry under a nice shade with a reasonable reflection of sunlight.

What is the best paint for leather?

Ready to start painting on your leather accessories but don’t know what type or brand of acrylic paint to buy? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. The type of acrylic paint you buy is critical to the success of your painting project – just as important as doing it right! Without further ado, the best acrylic paint for leather is Angelus Leather Paint.

Angelus Leather Paint, made in the USA, is a non-toxic acrylic paint that works perfectly for leather products like shoes, jackets, purses, boots, etc. This product comes as an acrylic paint set of 12 varying colors, all in 1 oz. jars. It is flexible, so you can rest assured it won’t peel, fade, or crack.

Since it is water-based and non-toxic, it is very easy to maintain, requiring simple cleaning methods. It is also easy to use. It comes in blue, white, green, purple, black, brown, orange, lilac, red, yellow, turquoise, and pink colors. You can mix any of them for more color options!

Learn more about acrylic paints:


Acrylic paints can be used to paint different leather products from shoes to bags, belts, purses, jackets, wallets, and even car seats. They are as good as leather paints as long as you dilute them and seal the leather properly after painting. If this is your first time painting acrylics on leather, you’ve got nothing to worry about. In this article, we have discussed how to paint and seal acrylic paints on leather in simple steps. Have fun on your leather painting projects!

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