Acrylic Paint

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather?

Acrylic Paint on Leather

Acrylic paint has many wonderful uses, but can it be used on leather? Leather is a very delicate material, and it’s also porous, which makes it difficult to dye and paint. Even natural dyes like tree bark and leaves take time to soak into the leather and change its appearance.

You can use acrylic paint on leather. Since acrylic paint is water-based, it won’t react with the leather fibers negatively. However, all types of fabric need special care when using any paint or dye because they will stretch or shrink depending on how wet or dry they are at any given time.

In the rest of this article, I will elaborate on the best way to use acrylic paint on leather, as well as some tips for applying the paint and preventing it from getting ruined.

Benefits of Using Acrylic Paint on Leather

Leather is a type of material that’s made from the skin of animals. The most common types of leather are cowhide and sheepskin, but you can also find leather from pigs, horses, and even sharks. It’s used to make clothing such as jackets, shoes, boots, hats, wallets, briefcases, and more.

For some artists, when thinking of how to customize their leather designs, the question of using acrylic paint arises. Indeed, you can use acrylic paint on leather items that you have, and here are some of the several advantages it has on leather (source):

  • Acrylic paint offers a soft and natural look when applied to the surface of the leather item.
  • Safe to use – since acrylic paint is water-based and non-toxic, it is not harmful to use in all environments, thus making it suitable for leather.
  • Acrylic paint dries quickly, allowing you to finish your leather paint project faster and save more time and energy for doing something else.
  • Acrylic paint is water-resistant when dry. This means that once the acrylic paint completely dries up on the applied item, when water spills on the leather item, the paint will still remain on the leather surface without any effects.
  • It should be no surprise that acrylic paints can be used to paint leather, given that leather companies and experts have used acrylics for years. The type of paint to use and whether an additive is necessary depends on the type of leather, the person, and how it was previously treated.

Now let’s determine what kind of paint to use on leather and what will work best for your particular application.

Related Reading: Can You Use Water to Thin Acrylic Paint?

Type of Paint to You Use on Leather

When you have a leather material and need to add some art, color, or design, your first thought is to look for paint, not just any paint. The paint should work well with leather and not produce cracks or damage to the item.

When painting with acrylic paints, it is best to use acrylic leather paint as it is made specifically for use on leather (source). Before applying a topcoat to acrylic paintings, consider brushing on an acrylic sealer. This will give your paint an evenly smooth finish and a long-lasting quality that won’t crack or fade over time.

If you want to paint leather, you’ll have the best results using acrylic paint formulated specifically for leather. Angelus leather paints are one of the most popular brands.

I recommend the Angelus Leather Paint Starter Kit Set of 12 1 Ounce Bottles (link to Amazon). Angelus Leather Paint is a high-quality leather paint designed for shoes, boots, jackets, purses, and more. This non-toxic paint will not crack or peel.

The original formula turns your leather into virtually 100% waterproof and washable material that is easy to maintain! The paints are made in the United States by a family-owned company with over 125 years of experience creating products that are heavy-duty and durable.

Related Reading: Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Leather

Painting your leather bag, pants, coat, or belt with acrylic paint is easy. For the best outcome, below is a few things you should keep in mind:

  • First, you need to add little water to the paint to thin it out; this gives a sort of watercolor effect.
  • Second, use as little paint on your brush as possible. When the paint is thin, it will be more adhesive and dry faster.
  • Avoid thick paint as it does not dry properly. Thick paint often cracks and peels off the leather, making it look unpresentable and probably which to throw your leather item away. I wouldn’t wish that for you.
  • Because leather acrylics are sensitive to environmental changes, thin applications are best; this allows for expansion and contraction.
  • When you are done with your first watered-down coat, your next coat should be a little thicker without water.
  • You should now try to bend your leather between coats of paint to prevent it from stiffening too much and cracking.
  • You can then decide to give your project a few layers of coats of paint, depending on your desired outcome.

Here is a YouTube video explaining how to paint on leather using acrylic paint:

Generally, acrylic paints are quite simple to use on leather. You must apply the paint correctly on a leather surface to avoid cracking.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on a Leather Bag

To keep the acrylic paint from cracking over time, you must seal the color to the leather. Providing a protective seal will make the painting last longer because you’re protecting it from dust, debris, or fading due to UV rays.

Here is a procedure you can follow to actually seal the acrylic paint on a leather bag:

  • First, you need to make sure that the leather bag is clean and dry – this is to prevent dust or debris from getting trapped
  • Spray the paint in short bursts with a liquid paint finisher or a spray sealant to hold acrylic paints to the leather.
  • Lastly, use a waterproofing spray – the purpose of this step is to assist the paint to stick, which is quite effective for long-lasting impact.

Generally, sealing is one of the main steps when dealing with this kind of leather. Sealing plays a major role in protecting the paint from peeling off, flaking, or any other form of water damage (source). This keeps the paint looking its best for as long as possible.

A point to note is that properly sealed paint can also prevent water damage to the leather bag by minimizing the amount of water reaching the material behind the paint (source).

I recommend the Mod Podge CS11201 Waterbase Sealer (link to Amazon). This 8-ounce bottle of sealer dries quickly on multiple surfaces, so you can finish your projects quickly. A protective coating increases the longevity of your project, making it both stunning and easy to clean up.

Final Thoughts

How would you like to finally cover-up, or feature, that ugly brown leather in your home? With acrylic paint, any color is possible. Whether you want a functional change—such as painting your favorite team’s logo onto your furniture—or an aesthetic change—such as painting the ugly brown armchair in your living room a bright shiny red—acrylic paint is perfect for fulfilling both of these endeavors. The best thing about using acrylic paint on leather is that it is easy to match the color of the leather without having to dye it first.


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