Can You Paint Shoes with Acrylic Paint?

You commonly see painted shoes when you stroll downtown. After-purchase shoe art is slowly getting popular.

The great designs provide more aesthetic character to the shoes. What types of paint do they use for these customizations? Can you paint your shoes with acrylic paint?

Acrylic paint is perfect for shoe art designs. You can use it to paint any make of shoes. It works on leather, canvass, rubber, and fabric.

The preparation and application methods may differ depending on the material. You can also apply additional techniques to strengthen the paint’s bond with the shoe or prolong its life.

You should stick around if you plan to paint your shoes with acrylic. I will cover how acrylic works on different shoe materials.

I will also elaborate on how you prepare the shoes for the painting job. As a bonus, I will talk about how you can make your painted shoes waterproof.

You might also find the paints I feature interesting.

can you use acrylic paint on shoes

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Your Shoes?

You can consider using acrylic paint if you want to beautify your kicks. With the right preparation, it should work fine. I will not talk about the beauty of your design.

I trust that you have a perfect idea about what to create and how to proceed.

However, I will provide information on how the paint works on different shoes.

Leather Shoes

You can use acrylic paint to beautify your leather shoes. Leather shoes are usually the most precious shoes on your shoe rack.

Or at least next to your KD, Kobe, or Air Jordan. If you think of painting them, you must ensure you will not regret your decision.

Acrylic paint adheres well to leather materials. However, you must prepare the surface to ensure the bond between the rubber and the paint. I have provided the simple preparation steps below.

Step 1: Clean the shoes from dirt, debris, or oils that can interfere with the paint’s adherence to the leather.

You can use any cloth wet with soap and water.

Step 2: Remove the silicone coating of the shoes. The shoe surface is shiny because of this coating. If you do not remove this, the paint may not stick well.

You can use shoe deglaze such as the Angelus Leather Preparer & Deglazer. You can also use alternatives, such as rubbing alcohol, acetone, or even a lemon juice mixture.

Step 3: Clean the shoes again. Do a final cleaning by wiping each shoe with a dry towel.

Step 4: Dry the shoes. Let the shoes sit for a couple of hours to ensure the leather is dry before you start painting.

After painting your shoes with acrylic, you may want to seal the paint with a sealant or a waterproofing coat.

Canvas Shoes

painting canvas shoes with acrylic paint

Canvas is a plain-woven cotton fabric. Acrylic paint is generally known to be a good type of paint for fabric.

Therefore, the canvas-acrylic paint combination is perfect. Most custom-designed canvas shoes and sneakers you see on store shelves use acrylic paints.

Acrylic paint is a popular choice for canvas surfaces because it is easy to apply and dries more quicker than oil-based paints. On top of that, acrylic doesn’t smell as strong as the latter.

They have lesser volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them technically safer. Another edge of acrylic paint is the price advantage.

You might want to know how to proceed with painting canvas shoes with acrylic paint. The general steps below might give you some ideas.

Step 1: Prepare the canvas. Ensure that the shoes are clean before you start painting. If you paint used shoes, wash them first and wait until they dry.

Step 2: Outline your design. Avoid messing up your shoe’s design by outlining your design with a pencil before applying the paint. You can use masking or painter’s tape if necessary.

Step 3: Paint and enjoy. Clean your space, put on your protective suits (gloves, mask, eye protector), and start the painting job.

When the paint dries up, check your work again. There might be some spots where you need to apply more paint to adjust the color.

Rubber Shoes

Rubber shoes are good for everyday use. What if you can make them even better by adding some paint art? Why not?

You can use acrylic paints to do it. These products are easy to find. Art shops and your local hardware stores have them.

Does acrylic paint work well on rubber? Yes, it does. This type of paint is versatile and works on many surfaces, including rubber.

It sticks well on the rubber after giving it a full cure time of at least 24 hours. I present some tips to prepare your rubber shoes for your art piece.

  • Wash or clean the rubber with soap and water to ensure it is dust and dirt-free
  • Wipe the rubber surface with rubbing alcohol
  • Secure the parts of the shoes with painter’s tape
  • Use a paintbrush
  • The paint may appear dry after 30 minutes or an hour, but do not use your shoes yet at this stage – it requires 24 hours of curing time.

Fabric Shoes

Acrylic paint is the second most appropriate paint for fabric shoes. Of course, special formulas or fabric-dedicated paints are the best.

Although, it is a matter of preference at the end of the day. I prefer fabric paint because I feel it is the ideal choice. However, some people prefer to use acrylic paint for their reasons.

Technically, fabric paints are still acrylic. However, they are thinner compared to non-fabric acrylic paints.

Those who use acrylic paint on fabric shoes usually add an acrylic polymer medium to improve adhesion. This method also helps reduce the brittleness of the non-modified acrylic paint.

Those who tried using acrylic paint on fabric shoes report that it works well. However, they sometimes experience cracking issues.

Dedicated fabric acrylic paints also appear to last longer than regular acrylic paints.

Do You Need to Prep Your Shoes Before Painting with Acrylics?

Surface preparation is the key to a successful shoe-painting project. You must always ensure that the shoes are free from dust, dirt, or debris.

These can interfere with the paint’s adhesion to the shoe material. Do you need to clean the shoes if they are brand new? Yes, it would help if you still cleaned them.

If you are dealing with used shoes, ensure to wash them first. You can’t remove the dirt under the paint when the paint dries. The dirt and stains might still be visible after the paint dries.

If you are painting leather shoes, the preparation is even more important. Leather shoes are shiny because of the silicone coating.

Removing dirt and debris from the shoes is not enough. You need to strip off the silicone coating of the shoes to ensure that the acrylic paint adheres well to the surface.

How to Paint Shoes with Acrylic Paint: Step-by-Step Process

how to paint shoes with acrylic paint step by step

To provide you with more ideas on how you can proceed with your shoe-painting project, I have collated the general steps below.

The steps may vary depending on your situation and the type of shoes you are painting.

Step 1: Prepare your design. If you want to try painting your pair of shoes, you must have an art design. It would be best if you had this unless you are a professional artist who does not need a sketch to create an art piece.

Step 2: Prepare the shoes. Do the necessary initial steps for cleaning your shoes. If your shoes are new or you have washed them recently, you can wipe the surface with an alcohol-wet cloth.

If there’s so much dirt on them, I highly suggest washing them thoroughly.

Step 3: Ensure the shoes are dry. After cleaning or washing your shoes, ensure that you dry them completely before moving to the next step. Wet shoes can easily attract dirt.

Step 4: Prepare the painting space. Prepare the area where you will do the project. It is always ideal to paint in a well-ventilated space to avoid inhaling all the paint fumes that may contain harmful toxins.

Step 5: Wear your protection. I suggest you wear your gloves, mask, and goggles before you start painting. Acrylic paint exposure to the skin may cause various skin allergies. The paint’s fumes may also irritate your nose, throat, and eyes.

Step 6: Draw the design. Sketch your design on the shoes. The sketch with serve as your guide.

If there are areas that you don’t want to paint, put painter’s tape on them to avoid accidentally spilling droplets of paint.

Step 7: Start painting. A paintbrush is the most common tool to use when painting shoes. Although, some artists use spray guns or paint sprayers. Spraying the paint will not always work if you paint an intricate design.

Step 8: Let them dry. Do not be in a hurry to use your painted shoes. You can usually touch dry the paint after 30 to 45 minutes.

However, this does not mean you can already put them on. Allow 24 to 48 hours for the paint to fully cure.

There you have it. If there are tiny details I fail to cover, I am sure you will figure them out as soon as you commence your shoe-painting project.

How to Seal Shoes to Prevent Cracking After Being Painted?

Cracking paint on your shoes is an eyesore and a complete turn-off. It makes your shoes ugly. What can cause the acrylic paint to crack?

Well, there are a lot of factors. The most prominent factor is the weather. Acrylic paint tends to crack under extremely cold temperatures because they become stiffer.

Another reason for the paint to crack is how we use the shoes. The bending, flexing, and curling of the shoes as we walk will cause some cracks over time.

So, how can you prevent acrylic paint from cracking fast when you paint them on your shoes?

Here are five tips:

Tip 1: Keep the paint thin. Painting your shoes with thick acrylic will make them prone to cracking. The thicker the paint, the stiffer they become.

The stiffer the paint, the higher chance it would crack.

Tip 2: Add acrylic polymer medium to the paint. Adding a polymer medium can enhance the integrity of the acrylic paint.

It improves durability so that the paint may resist cracking. It can further give the paint a glossy finish.

Tip 3: Pay the right price. If you want a quality result, be ready to pay the price. Don’t settle with cheap, low-quality acrylic paints.

Generally, budget acrylic paints have a shorter life span than premium brands. They can also crack quicker when your shoes experience flexing and bending.

Tip 4: Control temperature and humidity when you can. As much as possible, let the paint dry naturally to prevent cracking instances.

Exposing the painted shoes to artificial air can cause the paint to crack. Do not rush the process. You must also ensure that the room where you put the painted shoes is not very cold while the paint is still in the curing stage.

Tip 5: Don’t seal wet paint. Sealing the paint with a clear coat can add more protection.

However, you must wait until the paint dries or cures. Sealing wet paint could lead to quality issues.

Does Acrylic Paint Wash off Shoes?

Painting your shoes with acrylic is more likely permanent. As long as you give it enough time to cure fully, the paint should stick until the life of your shoes.

Premature usage of your painted shows may lead to washing off the paint. This scenario can easily occur when the paint does not dry properly.

Acrylic paint has a reputation for being water-resistant. This fact sounds like an assurance that it doesn’t easily come off the shoes or wash away your design.

However, there are also ways to ensure the paint stays on the shoes. They include adding polymer medium and waterproofing.

Can You Make it Waterproof?

Waterproofing the shoes after painting them with acrylic sounds like a good idea. But is it possible? Yessir! The waterproofing process is also not difficult.

You only need to find a good acrylic clear coat or paint sealer and apply it as the final coat.

You can shop around your local hardware stores. I am sure you will find a good brand of paint sealant.

There are also other products now available that you can use. Amazon floods with “shoe waterproofer” products for you.

Do these products work? Well, some of them do work. But you need to be extra careful about buying these products. Read some reviews before your purchase.

These products can also be costly for you. So, weigh your options before deciding which product to use.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint on Shoes

how to remove acrylic paint on shoes

Removing acrylic paint from your shoes is possible, but I should say that it can be extremely difficult.

However, there are methods and products you can use to remove acrylic paint.

These products include oil, paint thinner, acetone, and others. You can also use regular detergent/dish soap and hot water.

I will send you the generic and simple steps below. This cleaning method is ideal for canvas or fabric shoes. You can put some variations into the steps as you wish.

Step 1: Scrape the paint off. Using a dull knife or a spoon, scrape as much paint as you can from your shoes.

Step 2: Mix a detergent in hot water and soak your shoes for a good hour to soften the paint.

Step 3: When you notice the paint has softened, scrape the paint again until almost nothing is on the surface. This step may not completely remove the paint. Some stains and blemishes may still be visible.

Step 4: Apply a paint thinner or acetone to remove the stains. As the paint dissolves, continuously brush away the melting paint. Keep doing the process until you see that the stain is no longer showing.

Step 5: Wash your shoes with hot water and detergent mix again. This step is your final cleaning stage. Then, let your shoes dry.

For rubber and leather shoes, the steps can be a lot easier. You may only need to scrape the hardened paint off and apply cleaning solvents like acetone, paint thinners, and other deglaze.

The process may involve constant rubbing in circular motions to remove the paint.

Is Fabric Paint or Acrylic Paint Hetter to Use on Shoes?

If you paint your shoes, fabric paint or acrylic paint is more economical. These paints are considerably cheaper than oil-based paints.

They also dry quicker and are widely available at your local hardware or art stores. Furthermore, they may contain fewer VOCs, making them the safer choice.

As far as quality is concerned, fabric and acrylic paints can also guarantee that it sticks to your shoes for as long as they pair last.

If you want to prolong the paint’s life on your shoes, you can add acrylic polymers to the paint mixture. You can also waterproof the shoes with acrylic sealant.

If you are painting leather or rubber shoes, I suggest using acrylic over fabric shoes.

On the other hand, you can use either fabric or acrylic paint on fabric or canvas shoes.

Top 3 Best Paints to Use on Shoes

1. Best Overall: Caliart Acrylic Paint Set, 24 Colors (59ml, 2oz) Art Craft

Paints Make your design imaginations come true with this acrylic paint set from Caliart.

This product features premium-quality pigments to ensure durability. Furthermore, this water-based, non-toxic paint is safe, even for non-professionals.

The set comes in various colors to give you more versatility in choosing how you want your art would look.

Most users of this paint are happy with its consistent buttery texture and the overall quality of the paint when it dries.

If you buy the set and you have extra acrylic paints. The remaining paint will never go to waste.

Because the paint is non-toxic, your kids can use it for school projects.

You can also make your shoe painting a little more fun and exciting by getting your kids to paint their shoes as well.

2. Best Quality: Angelus Brand Acrylic Paint Starter Kit

Angelus is a popular paint brand. There must have been a reason why many users prefer its products.

Users always look for quality when they purchase a product like paint. Angelus does not fall short when we talk about quality.

This starter kit is a good option to try if you plan to paint your shoes.

The distinct feature of this paint is its ability to resist cracking or peeling.

With that quality, you won’t need to worry about adding more acrylic mediums to strengthen the paint.

The kit includes 12 color options to assist you with your artistic imagination. You can use the paint on various materials, including leather, vinyl, midsoles, canvass, and many more. Therefore, it is perfect for your shoe art project.

3. Best Budget: Fantastory Acrylic Paint Set, 24 Classic Colors

High-quality pigments, consistent creamy texture, and non-toxicity are some qualities that the Fantastory paint set boasts.

You can use this paint for various purposes. Of course, shoe painting is one of them.

This paint is also suitable for many users, including professionals, beginners, adults, students, and even kids.

Based on the reviews, users are happy with the high quality of the result. Some are satisfied with the thickness consistency.

They express that the paint set is all worth the price.

However, some users raise a few issues. One of the common issues I found is that the seal on top of the bottle doesn’t work after the initial use.

This problem leads to accidentally spilling the paint or wasting it. Even with this issue, users are still happy with the overall quality. Therefore, I can say that this product is worth trying.


Painting your shoes with acrylic paint is a good option. The paint adheres to most shoe materials like leather, canvas, fabric, and rubber.

It is important to prepare the shoe surface before painting. Do a simple cleaning job. The surface must be free from dirt and debris.

After painting your shoes with acrylic, you can add extra protection to ensure the paint does not wash off. Applying acrylic sealant or a clear coat can make your favorite shoes waterproof.

Using acrylic paint to design your shoes, use high-quality paint to avoid integrity issues.