Painting sneakers is an art. But it’s also very much a science. Use the wrong paint, and the end result will be disappointing even if you are the best custom shoe artist on the planet.
Plain craft paint just doesn’t work well to paint leather shoes. Sooner or later, it always chips, cracks, and peels off.
Proper shoe paints have different chemical properties from normal acrylic paints. They’re specially formulated to be flexible, and to bond to porous surfaces like leather and fabric.
Whether this is your first rodeo or you’re an old hand at painting sneakers, here are our recommendations for the best shoe paints to customize your kicks.
The most trusted name in leather paint, they’ve been in business since 1907.
When used according to the directions, Angelus paint will give you the look and feel of factory-made sneakers, with your own colors and designs. People have even painted whole leather couches with their paint, with excellent results!
If this is your first sneaker customization project, we suggest starting out with one of their terrific custom shoe paint kits.
The Starter Shoe Paint Kit comes with:
- 3 colors of standard leather paint (your choice of colors);
- leather preparer and deglazer;
- a set of 5 brushes;
- a sneaker cleaning brush and cleaning solution; and
- an acrylic finisher (your choice of matte or gloss).
Paints are sold individually, so if you need more than 3 colors, you can add additional paint bottles on their website. Check out their whole line of custom sneaker paint colors here.
Although it doesn’t come in as many colors as Angelus leather paint, Plaid makes a very capable Leather Studio Paint. This is a high quality acrylic leather paint that performs similarly to Angelus paint. It has excellent bonding to leather; remains flexible even after it dries; and it has great durability for a long lasting finish.
If you’re in a rush to get your sneaker customization project done, this paint ships with free 1-day shipping with a Prime membership.
This option is less durable than the other two shoe paints, and we don’t recommend it for suede or untreated leather surfaces. But if you like to switch up the look of your shoes regularly, Plasti-Dip can be a good customization tool.
You use Plasti-Dip just like you’d use spray paint. Spray on thin layers of the paint so it doesn’t run. Be sure to wait until the first layer is dry before applying more layers.
Once you’ve built up a good coat of Plasti-Dip with several layers, you’ll have a rubberized color coating sitting on top of the existing surface.
Best of all, if you spray Plasti-Dip on rubber, plastic, or synthetic materials, the coating is temporary and won’t damage the underlying surface. You can peel off the Plasti-Dip whenever you’re ready for a new look.
Again, Plasti-Dip is not a permanent sneaker customization tool, but rather a temporary and low-risk method for freshening up the look of your kicks. Plasti-Dip holds up fairly well for casual wear, especially if you take care not to scuff your shoes against walls, stairs, or other objects. However, you shouldn’t count on a Plasti-Dip coating lasting long on shoes you’ll wear to exercise or play sports.
The 3 paints above are the best options available for adding some color to your kicks. So what are you waiting for? Lay down some newspapers, roll up your sleeves, and get painting!