DIY – Painting Leather Shoes

A few years ago, I wrote a post about painting leather shoes, something I like to do when the need arises. Friday, I purchased a pair of Birkenstock shoes at a garage sale that weren’t a color I loved, but I knew I could fix that, and they were such a great deal, I couldn’t pass them up!

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If you’d like to try painting shoes, you need to read this quote from my previous post first: “—if you’re reading this and are under 18, go ask a parent before you start painting any of your shoes! If you’re 18 or over, please, don’t proceed if you’re at all unsure about the process… I’ve been painting for years, and am willing to experiment and possibly ruin a pair of shoes in the process. If you’d be really upset if you’ve ruined your shoes by painting them, do not attempt this! I doubt it’s reversible…”

Now, back to painting shoes…! They weren’t a bad color, I just preferred a dark brown, so I pulled out my acrylic paints, and chose this Liquitex Burnt Umber. I show two brushes, but ended up using just the larger brush.

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I mixed some paint, straight from the tube with water to create a stain, wanting to build up the color slowly and let it soak into the leather. Aside from just blowing off dust with an air compressor and washing off a small spot on one of the shoes, I didn’t get them wet first or sand or scrub them with a brush – although that might have quickened the process.

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Below shows one shoe with the first coat of paint. Pretty blotchy looking… That’s why I put on multiple coats of paint.


Here they are with about 5 coats of thinned acrylic paint – finished. It took that many layers to get the rich brown I wanted. This also built up enough paint to give them a smooth, satiny finish. If you’d like more detail in the instructions, check out my previous post.

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I didn’t paint this area to save some of the original color for comparison.

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Since I was in the shoe painting mood, I figured I’d touch up my leather Haflinger clogs, which are the shoes I painted previously.

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Like new again! Ready to try it yourself? Feel free to ask me questions if you have any!




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