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What Paint Can You Use On Leather? (How To)

There are many reasons why you may want to paint on leather. It includes crafting as well as covering up mistakes and stains that may have happened on leather furniture and other items. What paint can you use for this?

The best thing to use for painting on leather is acrylic paint made specifically for that purpose. After preparing the leather, you can paint the acrylic in several light coats and then finish it by sealing the paint so it lasts for a long time.

Painting in leather

As is the case with any type of home DIY project, there are options that are available. Acrylic paint is certainly one option that you might want to consider but there are other options as well, some of which may be better, depending on the specific project.

As you will see, it isn’t just about making sure that you use the proper type of paint, it also has a lot to do with the preparation and finishing of the project. This will really make a difference and help the job to be something you can be proud of.

What Paint Can You Use On Leather? (How To)

Something important to keep in mind is that all leather is not created equally. Higher-grade leather is going to tend to stain more easily, so you can use paint easier on it. Other types of leather, however, may not be so quick to accept paint for the long term.

The four basic types of leather are full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, and bonded. Those are in order from the highest quality to the lowest quality. Interestingly, corrected grain leather is also known as genuine leather, which surprises many people that it is not at the top of the list.

You should also consider the preparation of the leather before you end up painting it. We will cover this in detail to ensure that the job you do goes as smoothly as possible.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

Acrylic paint is a very popular choice for painting leather. Any type of acrylic paint can be used for that purpose but it is better if you choose an acrylic paint that is specifically made for painting on leather.

Since leather is a porous material, the acrylic paint will soak into it. That is why it is important to work in several layers of paint rather than trying to cover the leather in one single layer.

Can You Use Spray Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

It is possible to use spray paint for painting leather but you have to use a type of spray paint that is good for porous and flexible material. Otherwise, the paint may dry on the surface to a hard crust and as the leather bends and moves, the paint will crack.

Can You Use Oil Based Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

Oil paint is not typically a suitable choice for painting on leather. It tends to dry to more of a hard layer, rather than soaking into the leather. As a result, it may crack as the leather moves. There are some markers that may use oil paint but they are made specifically for painting on leather and are acceptable.

Can You Use Latex Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

One option for painting leather is to use latex paint. This type of paint is similar to acrylic paint, although it is water-based rather than chemical-based. You can use latex paint and paint in several light layers to cover leather and it will last for a very long time.

Can You Use Emulsion To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

Emulsion paint can be used for painting leather because it is the same as acrylic paint. It will work its way into the properly prepared leather and if you use a finisher, it will last on the leather without wearing quickly.

Can You Use Rustoleum Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

Rustoleum paint can be used to paint leather if you choose a type of paint that is specific for vinyl or fabric. Standard Rustoleum paint may not be the best choice for painting on leather. Make sure that you use a de-glazer before painting leather with Rustoleum.

Can You Use Textile Paint To Paint Leather?

Painting in leather

Fabric paint is not the best choice for painting leather. Leather is a different type of material than fabric and it will not soak in the paint as quickly. As a result, fabric paint is not going to last a long time when used on leather.

How To Paint Leather Properly

confused woman standing

Now that we have discussed the different types of leather you can paint and the types of paint you can use, it’s time to consider the method that will work the best. Follow these steps to ensure that the job is up to the top standards.

Step 1: Prepare – If you are painting something that has additional items attached to it that you don’t want to be painted, they should be removed. This could include legs off of a sofa or shoelaces out of leather shoes.

Step 2: Clean – Use warm water with some neutral soap, such as dishwashing liquid to clean any soiled areas of the leather. You can use a sponge or a soft cloth. You may also find it necessary to scrub the leather with a brush to remove any deep stains. After cleaning, give the leather plenty of time to fully dry.

Step 3: Deglaze – Use a commercial de-glazer to further prepare the surface. Many leather products have a finish on them and if you don’t use a de-glazer, the paint will simply stay on the surface and will not soak in and be a more permanent part of the process. Don’t bother using a natural solution. No natural solution will work as well as a commercial de-glazer.

After you apply the cleaner and de-glazer, it is important to allow enough time for the leather to fully dry. This will typically only take about five or 10 minutes after you use the de-glazer but if you aren’t in a hurry, it would be beneficial to allow it to dry overnight.

Step 4: Prepare – In this step of the process, you will get the paints prepared for use. You want to have everything available and ready, including the paint itself as well as any brushes or sponges that will be used in the process.

Fortunately, the preparation process falls right in line with the drying process. You can give it plenty of time to allow the leather to be fully dry so that the paint will work as well as possible. This is not the time to choose your paint, you should have already selected the paint you want to use and you will now be preparing to use it.

Step 5: Protection – Depending on the type of painting you’re doing and the piece you are painting, you may need to protect certain parts of it. This could include anything from using painter’s tape over furniture legs to covering nearby areas if you are using any type of spray paint.

You likely are thinking that a lot of effort is being put into the preparation process, and you are correct. Like any project, preparing to paint leather is one of the most important factors. Unless everything is prepared properly in advance, you’re not going to be happy with the finished product.

Step 6: Begin Painting – Now is where you actually start the painting process. Apply a layer of paint on the leather, but don’t get too thick with it. Applying a thin layer of paint will allow the paint to soak in as much as possible and at the same time, it will also keep it from building up on the surface where it will be more likely to crack or peel.

Step 7: Dry – Again, we have drying as part of the process of painting leather. In this particular case, you are allowing the paint to dry sufficiently because you will continue to use additional layers of paint until it is covered properly.

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Generally speaking, you only need to allow about 30 minutes for the paint to dry. At that point, you can carefully touch the paint and if it no longer feels tacky, you can continue with the next step.

Step 8: Repeat – Continue to apply thin layers of paint and allow each layer to dry before the next layer is applied. The end goal is to cover the leather completely so that the leather is no longer showing through.

Once you have completely finished the process of painting, you will allow it to dry for a minimum of 24 hours. You want the paint to be fully dry before you move on to the finishing process.

Step 9: Finisher – Applying a thin layer of a commercial finisher using a rag or brush will help the paint to stay in place for the long term. There may be different types of finishers, depending upon the type of leather you painted, the type of paint you used, and the product that was being painted.

Step 10: Waterproof (Optional) – As a final, optional step, apply a waterproofing product to the paint. This is typically done on leather products that will get wet, such as shoes or possibly bags.

The best paint for painting leather is acrylic paint made specifically for that purpose. There may also be a variety of dyes that are available for coloring leather, but they are typically used for more specific reasons, such as covering damage on leather furniture.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on November 7, 2022.

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