Generally, shoes have a shell life of 8-12 months, depending on their material and brand. However, some shoes can last longer due to their rugged build and reliable fabric.
But besides the quality, the appearance matters as well. With time, it might fade away. Rather than tossing them out, did you know that you could paint them without any hassle?
Painting your shoes can make them look as good as new, or even better! You can experiment with the colors and designs according to your preference and choices.
Read along and know the different kinds of techniques that you can utilize in painting your shoes.
Why Paint your Shoes?
There are several reasons why you should paint your shoes. It can either be due to a personal choice. You might have liked a pair of shoes, but it was not available in your desired color.
Or, you would like to uplift the overall appearance of your favorite old shoes. If you prioritize style and looks, this is the best way to renovate your boots.
Moreover, painting them will increase their longevity. You can significantly hide the scratches and stains with a new color, making them look like you had bought them yesterday!
Painting your shoes can help you bring out your creativity. It can also be a great activity to do with your friends and family. In a way, it is a golden opportunity that results in bright and good-looking shoes.
Methods to Paint your Shoes
As mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of shoes according to their fabric. You cannot similarly paint them all as it could result in the deterioration of the material.
Painting shoes is not child’s play. It demands to be done systematically, like the following:
Clean your Boots
Before you get started with the painting process, you must clean your shoes. You can use a damp cloth and wipe it all over the boots and the outsoles. It will get rid of the accumulated dirt and grime.
Once the shoes are visibly clean, wipe them with a dry cloth and let them dry.
How to Clean Leather Cowboy Boots
Decide the Design
This is where you let your creativity flow. Create a vague sketch of the design you need on your shoes. It could either be the color, the combination of colors, or the overall illustration.
You can try out multiple designs on a piece of paper and choose what works best for you.
Get the Right Materials
You will need an assortment of paints and markers to design your shoes. As there are different materials of shoes available, every fabric will require its own set of paraphernalia.
If you have leather shoes, you will need acetone, leather paint, etc.
For fabric or canvas shoes, you will need fabric paints, acrylic primer, fabric sealant, etc.
When it comes to painting rubber soles, you will need rubbing alcohol, rubber primer, acrylic paint, sealant (if required).
You will also need cotton balls, Q-tips, painter’s tape, and paintbrushes for all types of shoes. Once you have gathered everything, let us get started with the painting business.
For an easier understanding, we have segregated the painting procedures according to the materials.
→ Leather Shoes
Leather requires special care, and you need to be extra careful when it comes to painting them. After cleaning them with a clean cloth, place your shoes in a well-ventilated area.
Use a painter’s tape or masking tape according to the design. You can easily cover the areas that you do not want to paint.
Apply acetone to remove any coating or polish. You can use Q-tips to scrub the polish away. This is crucial for a proper paint coating.
Leather paint is easy to work with as it provides full coverage. If you plan to paint dark colors over dark leather, you might not require more than two coats. However, if you have a light design in mind, you will have to rub some elbow grease and go with four-five coatings.
Keep enough gaps between two coatings, preferably half an hour.
After you have completed painting, remove the tape to give it a smoother edge. Ensure that you remove it before the coating is completely dry.
→ Fabric or Canvas Shoes
Canvas shoes work as a blank sheet for budding artists to try out their painting skills.
Using tape, cover the regions that you do not wish to paint. After that, sketch your design with pencils or stencils. You can also use marker pens if you are confident about your design.
After the illustration is complete, remove the laces and cover the insoles with newspaper. Place the shoes in an open area and apply acrylic primer to the boots. This will prevent it from flaking or getting dried up. Apply a single coating and let it dry for thirty minutes.
After the shoes’ texture is dry, start painting with fabric paint. After finishing up with the design, apply a coating of fabric sealant. It prevents the pigments from cracking up.
→ Rubber Soles
Besides the upper surface, you can also paint your rubber soles to give your shoes a finished look.
However, before getting started with it, you will have to clean the shoes and the soles with rubbing alcohol. Dip a cotton ball in some rubbing alcohol and clean the soles. Eliminate the traces of dirt and grime from the soles.
Tape the regions of the shoes that you would want to leave blank. After doing so, apply a thin coating of rubber primer for better finishing.
After the primer has dried up, start painting the shoes with acrylic paints. Go with gentle strokes along with the outsoles and do not overdo it. Apply additional coatings as per your requirement, but keep enough intervals between the two.
Let the shoes dry overnight before you wear them.
→ Additional Useful Tips
- Place a newspaper over the platform before you start painting the shoes.
- Do it in an open area to avoid any side-effects from the fumes.
- Demo the design or color on a patch before applying the paint on the shoes.
What Kind of Paint do you Use on Shoes?
There are different kinds of shoes, varying according to the materials used for their manufacturing. As each fabric has a distinctive texture, you can only use their respective pigments while painting them.
As the name suggests, fabric paint is used on fabrics. As it is dry-based, it results in a good finishing on canvas shoes.
The distinctive quality of fabric paints is its glue-binding agents. It is also thinner as compared to the other types of paints. Such attributes make it stick to the surface.
Spray paint comes in a pressurized container that allows you to apply a thin coat of paint over the shoes. Not only is this easy to use, but it also causes less mess. This is mostly used to paint the rubber soles.
If you own a wide range of shoes, it is not economical to buy a different paint set. But you can get the job done with multi-surface paint. It works on all kinds of surfaces and fabrics, making it easier for you to paint your shoes.
Paint markers or marker pens are multi-coloured pens used to paint on different surfaces, including shoes. It is oil-based and can be used for an easy paint application.
Leather paint is acrylic-based that works on leather and faux leather. They are comparatively high-priced, but they also prevent the material from cracking up over time.
How Do You Keep Acrylic Paint From Cracking On Shoes?
Acrylic painting is a boon when it comes to designing and renovating shoes. It gives it a subtle edge and modernized appearance that can make it stand out.
However, it is infamous for cracking on the boots. Many people have complained about such a negative repercussion by using acrylic paint on their shoes. But this can be avoided if you would adhere to the following tips:
- Firstly, do not use acrylic paint on leather. You must only use it for fabric or canvas shoes. If you must use it, you need to apply a deglazer on the leather surface before applying the paint.
- Choose qualitative paint and brushes. Do not go for the cheapest quality to save your money. They could harm your shoes’ material and crack the paint more.
- DO NOT apply thick layers of paint on the shoe. The first coating or layer should always be thin. Only after that has dried up, go for the second layer.
- Avoid using artificial techniques to dry the paint. Do not use a hairdryer to fasten the drying process. It will crack the paint.
- Paint in a single direction and avoid changing the motion of the paintbrush.
- Opt for one brand of paint and stick to it. Mixing more brands can deteriorate the paint and allow it to crack.
- Waterproofing your shoes after painting them can prevent the paint from cracking up. Let it dry for a day or so before you wear them.
- You can also use a sealant to give overall protection to the paint coating.
How to Protect your Painted Shoes?
Painting your shoes might be a one-time thing, but protecting and preserving them is an everyday routine. You must take special care of your painted shoes so that the paint does not crack or fade off.
You can do so in the following manner:
- Clean and prep the shoes before applying the paint. Eliminate any dirt or dust particles with a clean cloth. Remove the polish with the help of some acetone and Q-tips. Once the additional wax is removed, you can let the shoes dry and apply the paint coatings.
- Choose the right kind of paint according to the fabric of your shoes. Do not use leather acrylic on canvas shoes and vice versa. This will not only ruin your boots but also fill a hole in your pocket for nothing.
- Go easy on the strokes of paint and apply thin layers. If you require a darker shade, you can use several coatings of it at regular intervals. But do not go overboard and apply a thick layer of paint.
- Use sealants to protect the integrity of the color. Once the paint is dry, apply a thin layer of a qualitative sealant and let the material absorb it. Once the shoes are completely dry, you can take them out for a spin!
- Avoid any exposure to direct heat or dirt right after painting your shoes. Wear them on concrete surfaces initially to prevent any further damage.
The bottom line
Painting might seem a fun activity, but it also needs utter precision, especially in shoes. Even though homemade techniques might not give you the factory-made finishing, but you can always experiment with the shoes for your satisfaction and style.
Follow the methods mentioned above and keep the tips in your back pocket. While buying the paints, ensure that it is for your particular shoes’ fabric and let the colors flow on your boots!
Ethan comes with a wide array of knowledge when it comes to fashion. Since 2008, Ethan has been reaching remarkable heights in the fashion industry. He has a bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising from CUNY New York City College of Technology and currently owns his fashion studio in New York City. His styles exude a powerful statement, and he tries to bring this magic in the products he reviews. He ensures his readers always put their best foot forward.
He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and currently lives with his wife and five-year-old kid, Scott. In his free time, Ethan loves indulging his senses in pottery making and even knitting. He has celebrated many achievements in his career and has conducted workshops for many celebrities and public figures. At Wearsty, he ensures the testing and scrutiny of how fashionable products are and how comfortable and supportive they are.