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Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Shoes?

Painting your shoes is a wonderful way to express yourself and your individuality. You can create your own designs, use any color you want, and make them one of a kind. If this sounds like something you want to do, you are probably wondering if you can use regular acrylic paint to get the job done.

So, can you use acrylic paint on shoes? You will be happy to learn that acrylic paint can be used to paint your shoes. Acrylic paint will stick to your shoes beautifully, just start with thin layers to prevent cracking, as well as keeping your painting clear.

There are several different materials of shoes, so how do you know if acrylic will work on each different type? Let’s take a deeper look into the most popular types of shoes to determine whether or not acrylic paint is the best option. 

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather Shoes? 

Acrylic paint is one of the best paints that you can use for painting on leather shoes. In fact, most leather brands will use acrylic paint on their leather items when necessary. It has been a practice that has been used for years and years, so it has been proven to work.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Acrylic Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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To paint on leather, the first thing you need to do is prep the surface. You will want to wipe down the shoes with rubbing alcohol to remove any debris and grease, as well as any wax or oil coatings that may have been applied. If you find that your leather shoes have been treated with a silicone coating, you can purchase a leather deglazer to remove it. I highly recommend Angelus Leather Preparer, as this brand is specifically designed to be used on leather.

In order to get the best results possible, you need to use thin layers of paint. If you paint on too thick, there is a higher chance of the paint cracking when you flex the shoes. After you are finished painting, make sure to seal the paint to protect your design. We discuss sealing paint on shoes at the bottom of this article.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Air Force Ones? 

Air Force Ones have been an extremely popular leather shoe for several years. Acrylic paint is a great choice for this type of shoe, but be careful to choose an acrylic paint that is designed for use on leather. You can use the one I recommend above, or Angelus Leather Paints, which are well known for shoes artists.

Air Force Ones are treated with a protective waxy coating before they are sold. This coating will need to be removed before you can paint, or the paint will not stick to the leather. The best thing to use is a leather deglazer to gently rub off that waxy coating. Even if the shoes you are painting are older, it is still a good idea to deglaze.

This Nike shoe is known for having sections that are separated by the stitching of the shoe. Most custom Air Force Ones are painted in a color-block design that highlights these sections.

If this is what you are planning to do, make sure you apply one thin layer of paint at a time. It is also recommended to use painters tape to protect sections that won’t be painted.

When you are finished painting, wait a minimum of 24 hours before applying any sealant to protect your design. The sealant can be purchased as a gloss, satin, matte, or regular finish. The sealant will protect the paint from cracking, peeling, or losing color. I highly recommend Krylon Sealant Spray when you use acrylic paints. It even protects against UV rays!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Vans? 

Vans are made out of canvas, so can you use acrylic paint on them, too? Luckily, the answer is yes. You will need a primer, acrylic paint, and a finisher. To prepare the canvas shoe, the first thing you need is to make sure they are clean. You can purchase a show cleaner at the store or online. 

After you have cleaned your shoes, apply painters tape on any parts that you don’t want to paint, including the rubber sole of the shoe. You can then move on to the primer. I always use Sargent Art Gesso Primer, because it works for oil paints, and other types of mediums as well. Apply a very thin layer as this will allow the paint to adhere to the canvas easier and prevent cracking.

Just like the leather shoes mentioned above, painting will need to be done in thin layers. It is recommended to do 2 to 4 layers of paint, depending on the opacity you are trying to achieve and the color you are using. As you are adding more layers, the color will soak into the canvas and start to stick.

When you are finished and your shoes look exactly how you want them to, you will need to go in with the finisher sealant. This will protect your design, make the canvas shoes waterproof, and prevent any scuffs on your paint. 

The best part about using acrylic paint on Vans is the color of the shoe doesn’t matter. You can paint on a black shoe just as easily as you could on a white shoe. The paint will adhere to the canvas of the shoe and look vibrant and bold.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Vinyl Shoes?

Acrylic paint is the best to use when painting vinyl shoes because they stick well and aren’t likely to chip or crack. You will want to prep the vinyl with a lacquer thinner to get rid of any residue, such as grease, dirt, and oil. Start by testing a small piece of the vinyl before covering the whole shoe. 

Use very thin layers for the best results. It is recommended to wait about fifteen minutes to give each layer some time to dry before applying the next layer. If you try to save time by applying thick coats of paint, the paint won’t set correctly, and you risk cracking in the paint.

When you have finished painting, leave the shoes to dry for 24 hours before applying a plastic sealant. This will seal in your design and preserve the color while adding a nice, finished look. The sealant will also help prevent any cracking when the shoe is flexed.

Like the other types of shoes, it doesn’t matter what color shoe you are trying to paint on. The paint will stand out over the material of the shoe, so the design is visible no matter what color it is painted over. 

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Shoes

When you paint your shoes with acrylic paint, you will definitely want to seal it afterwards. This protects it against flaking, chipping, or even paint rubbing off. I always use Krylon Sprays, because they protect against UV rays from outdoor weather. They also come in glossy, matte and even glitter finishes.

You will want to make sure the acrylic paint is fully dry before applying the sealer. Once it’s dry, apply a thin layer at about 6 inches from the shoes. You can leave it at one layer, but some people will spray twice to make sure all angles ad creates are covered. Always make sure you have good ventilation or at the very least, an open window since the fumes will be pretty strong.

Let your shoes dry for a minimum of 24 hours before touching and trying them on. They may still have a smell from the sealant, but it will fade away after a few days.

Final Thoughts

Painting your shoes is a great way to show the world a part of yourself, your creativity, and your individuality. if you are going to paint your shoes, it is important to make sure you do it right with the right materials.

Acrylic paint is popular because it can be used on any type of shoe. No matter what type of shoe you have and are planning on painting, acrylic is a great option. When used properly, acrylic paint will stick to the material of the shoe with ease. Just make sure to follow my recommend steps and products, and your shoes will turn out great!

Don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!

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