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Painting on Leather with Acrylic Paints

Leather is a popular substrate for many artists looking to create something a little different. From shoes or belts to jackets, the projects are extensive. When thinking about how to customise your design, you may ask the question “can I use acrylic paint on leather?” and the answer is yes! Here are some things to consider when painting on leather with acrylic paints. 

What is the best paint for leather?

Although it is possible to purchase specific leather paint, acrylic paints are a fantastic option due to their extensive versatility, range of shades and vibrant colour options. Leather paint can be more expensive than standard acrylic paint with less choice of colours available. 

Acrylics are also a great option because it is likely that you will then use them for many other, non-leather projects in the future, ensuring you can get the most from your materials. You may even have some in your cupboard already. 

Person painting a white leather shoe.

Preparing leather before painting

Before you begin to paint your design, you should always test a small piece of the material first in order to check your preparation method and paint selection. 

In order to prepare your leather for paint application, you should first clean the surface with Clean Spirit or Isopropyl alcohol to ensure there is no grease or dirt that can spoil the design or impact on how long the paint will last. 

If the leather has a glaze over the top, you can gently rub the surface with a fine grade sandpaper. If there are sections of leather that you do not want to get paint on, you can use masking tape to protect it. 

Painting on leather

When painting a leather surface, make sure that you are not applying thick coats – the key here is to get the paint to soak into the leather. Thick layers of paint are more likely to crack and damage when the leather is flexed. 

You may find it difficult to apply the first coat of paint, if this is the case then water-based acrylic paint can be diluted with an equal amount of water to get it to absorb. Make sure you give it this base time to soak in before applying the next coat.

When painting with acrylics it is also important to make sure you are using the best paint brushes or tools to ensure you can create the textures and shapes that you need. 

Person painting a piece of leather.

How to seal acrylic paint on leather

Once you have completed your design, allow the paint to dry fully before sealing the paint. Applying a sealant on top of the paint means that once dry, you will be able to clean the surface and it should not crack or peel.

To seal your paint you can simply spray a paint finisher over the top or use a dilutable paint finisher and dab it on lightly. You should give your design 24 hours to dry fully once you have applied the finisher. 

After sealing, you may also choose to use a waterproofing spray to fully complete your project.

You can visit one of our stores or explore our products online to find what you need. Have you tried using acrylic paints on a leather project yet? If so, please get in touch – we’d love to see what you’ve created. 

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