Spray paint has been all the rage in the home improvement industry, but when refinishing cowboy boots, is it a faux pas? It seems easy enough to take an old or unsightly pair of boots and upgrade them with a few sprays. Yet, you also don’t want to ruin them. Is spray painting cowboy boots worth the risk?
So, can you spray paint cowboy boots? Yes,despite what the critiques say, spray paint is a versatile product, perfect for giving your favorite cowboy boots an upgrade. Using high-quality paints designed for the material of your boots is crucial. Prepping and application tactics are equally as important, ultimately determining the final result, as avid boot DIYers will attest to.
Planning for your boot spraying project is key. In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know before you start and the steps you can take to make your project successful.
What Spray Paint Do You Use with Cowboy Boots?
Spray paints are formulated specifically for certain materials, uses, and elements your product will be exposed to. Before purchasing a spray paint, you must know a little more about your boots and determine your intentions for wearing them.
Paint By the Boot Material
First, consider the material of your boots. Traditional cowboy boot manufacturers use suede, cowhide, roughout, and goat leather, while less expensive boots may use synthetic, faux leather, and vinyl/plastic materials.
Ensure the paint you choose is appropriate for your boot material. Look for this information on the back of the can; pay special attention to warnings on what materials to entirely avoid. Using the right paint will result in long-lasting wear and a polished finish that will easily adhere to the surface.
Paint By the Use
Where are you going to be wearing your boots? Are you planning to make these gems indoor-only footwear, or will your boots be stomping around town? Knowing how you will use your boots is important when choosing a paint. You want a coating that will last, without cracking, wearing, or showing signs of stains.
Consider spray paints with water-resistant properties and flexible holds for boots you plan to get a lot of use from. If you’re painting your boots with a light color, spray paint with soil and stain resistance capabilities are a must.
Can You Spray Paint Leather Cowboy Boots?
Old-school leather enthusiasts might say no, simply out of fear of covering up an authentic material. But can you spray paint leather cowboy boots? Absolutely, and many people do.
When spray painting leather, find a spray paint made specifically for leather clothing and footwear. These products consider the unique properties of leather: movement, crevices, patina, cracking properties, and softness. These coats allow for the material move and change, without distributing the finished patina.
Most leather sprays, such as MB Brillo Color Sprays, are made for vinyl, plastic, and leather boots. If you’re unsure what type of cowboy boot you have (minus suede products), this could the safest avenue to go.
Can You Spray Paint Suede Cowboy Boots
Suede is a different beast when it comes to refinishing and may be a project you consider dying as opposed to painting. When suede encounters a paint-like substance, it hardens, loses flexibility, and becomes stiff. Stiff suede can be easily damaged when bent or scraped.
Some paints, such as acrylics, work better on suede products, but they don’t last. Comparable to shoe polish, acrylic paints can wear over time and lead to a lot of repainting in your future.
Another type of paint to use on cowboy boots is Angelus Leather Paints. This brand is made specifically for shoes, whether it’s canvas, leather or even suede. You can also seal them with their paint glaze, to give your boots a nice shiny finish.
Spray Paint Application Tips to Remember
It’s tempting to start painting as soon as the can hits your fingers– don’t! Starting to spray before you’ve prepped your product will result in a finish you won’t want to draw attention to. These simple spray-painting steps will make a huge difference and should be completed as the first steps in every project.
Clean Your Cowboy Boots First
Cleaning your boots before painting is crucial. While your boot may appear clean, this is probably far from the case. Debris and dirt on boots may result in discoloration of the paint and uneven surfaces. If oil is present, it may cause the paint not to take.
Cleaning boots made of leather, vinyl, plastic, or other materials (other than suede) doesn’t take long. Boot experts advise using a damp cloth with a mild soap or shoe cleaner to wipe the shoe’s surface, sole, and bottom, using saddle soap for deep stains. For oil spots, use a bit of cornstarch or baking soda to dry out the area before cleaning.
If you have design features or deep crevices in your boots, use a small brush (toothbrush or other) to get into the deep cracks, scrubbing gently to avoid scratching. This step will make a huge difference in appearance when the paint finally dries.
Prep the Boots for Painting
Chances are you don’t want spray paint on every surface of your cowboy boot (Unless you do, skip this part!). You can easily prevent rouge sprays and drips by strategically applying painter’s tape and newspaper before you apply your coating.
Stuff newspaper into the center of the boot to prevent paint from getting inside. Then, use the painter’s tape to cover the heel, sole, buckle, or other design features. This boot painting video shows you step-by-step how this process plays out. The result of your paint job will worth the extra effort.
Take Your Time
Spray paint is easy to use but also easy to mess up. Painting too close to your project can result in unsightly drips, while painting too thick can leave you with a tacky finish. You can always buff away drips and paint to start from scratch if you do mess up but slowing down a bit can avoid this altogether.
When spray painting your boots, use quick, sweeping motions and thin coats you can build on; you can always do additional coats for bolder colors. Make sure to allow your boots to dry at least 24/hours in between coats or before wearing.
Why Would You Paint Cowboy Boots?
After all this, some of you might still wonder: What’s the point? Why would you take a boot that is made of leather and change it into a vibrant pink? Aren’t you destroying the authenticity of the product? Why not just buy new boots the color you like? Sadly, not everyone can afford it.
The fact is, high-quality cowboy boots are expensive, hundreds of dollars. There are several ways to restore leather boots that involve conditioning, dyes, and other tricks to keep the leather appearance. But sometimes, these processes change the original color. Cheaper boots don’t always come in the colors you want, and everyone deserves a chance to show off their style, regardless of budget limitations.
Spray paint is an easy, inexpensive, and fast way to take a pair of boots you don’t want to wear and repurpose them into your new favorite shoes.
It all comes down to personal preference and style. If you love a good-old worn-out leather boot with all the natural imperfections, this article was not for you. However, if you’ve ever considered spray painting your favorite cowboy boots or experimenting with a $5 thrift store find, this is your sign to give it a try.
If you plan and do your research, you’re bound to have a pair of painted boots to be proud of. Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your cowboy boots turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!