Can You Spray Paint Shoes? [Top 5 Spray Paint Customization Tips]

Spray paint can turn out to be a lifesaver whenever you need to get creative on short notice. From redecorating the walls to putting out emergency signs, spray paint comes in handy everywhere. But can you spray paint shoes as well?

You can use multiple varieties of spray paint such as – all-purpose, epoxy, acrylic, enamel, etc. to redesign your shoes. Spray paint works well with both mesh and knit fabric along with leather and synthetic fiber shoes.

Spray paint can help you to explore your creative side, especially when you badly need a quick and cheap fix. As such, from spray painting shoes to easily cleaning the paint up if things go south – let’s cover it all in today’s write-up.

Which Spray Paint Is Best For Shoes?

Before attempting to spray paint shoes, you should know more about the different kinds of spray paint first. Because depending on your preferences and the shoe material, certain types of spray paint might work a lot better than others.

Here’s an overview of the best types of spray paint for shoes –

All-Purpose/General Purpose Spray Paint

If you’re looking for efficient spray painting on an affordable budget, then all-purpose spray paint is the way to go. You can use all-purpose spray paint on both natural leather and synthetic fiber. Plus, all-purpose spray paint is considerably lighter, hence it’s easier to use i.e. great for beginners.

Epoxy Spray Paint

If you want long-lasting spray paint, then it’s not a bad idea to go for epoxy spray paint. It’s much heavier than all-purpose spray paint and contains a high amount of adhesives.

However, it’s important to note that normal household cleaners such as dish soap can’t affect epoxy spray paint. You’ll need to use rubbing alcohol, acetone, etc. to dissolve the adhesives in the paint first. Hence, it’s not recommended to use epoxy spray paint on the original leather as the paint can downgrade the quality of the leather over time.

Enamel Spray Paint

Enamel spray paint hardens up significantly after drying. They’re really great for making specific designs on shoes. Alternatively, if you’re planning to paint over most of the surface, then it’s best to avoid enamel spray paint.

For instance – if you use enamel paint near the heel area, the paint will likely crack over time. Hardened enamel spray paint won’t have the flexibility to match the contours of the feet while walking or running. Hence, you’ll experience premature cracking in some specific positions.

But you can use enamel spray paint to create small designs, logos, etc. around the edges or on top of the shoe. Make sure to use masking tapes to implement the design properly.

Acrylic Spray Paint

Acrylic spray paint is mostly used in and around the automotive industry but you can use it to decorate shoes too. The application process involves similar pros and cons as the enamel spray paint one. However, acrylic paint offers more flexibility compared to enamel spray paint.

Some shoes and boots come with metallic ornaments. You can use acrylic spray paint on these ornaments. Since acrylic paint is waterproof, it’ll delay the rusting in these areas.

Read More – How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry?

Spray Painting Shoes: Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know which types of spray paint to go for, time to get to the actual procedure. Follow this step-by-step guide to know the do’s and don’ts of spray painting shoes –

Step 1: Gather Everything

Spray painting is a pretty rapid process. Compared to acrylic or latex paint, spray paint takes barely an hour to dry.

As such, it’s important to keep all the necessary materials nearby to avoid hiccups later on. Here’s a list of all the possible things you might need while spray painting shoes –

  • Newspaper
  • Sealants
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Spray Paint Cans
  • Soft Fabric/Sponge
  • Latex Hand Gloves
  • Face Masks/Goggles
  • Acetone
  • Dish Soap/Detergent, etc.

Step 2: Clean The Shoes

Before painting the shoes, get rid of all the dirt and grease first. Otherwise, the paint won’t sit properly on the surface.

With polished leather shoes, use acetone to clean the grime off the leather. But before that, clean the rest of the shoe with a concoction of dish soap and water.

Wait for at least 15-20 minutes after dabbing the acetone so that it can evaporate properly. Use a soft sponge to wipe and smoothen everything up before you start to spray paint.

Step 3: Prepare The Shoes

Use crumpled-up newspaper to fill the empty space inside the toe box. That way, you’ll have a smooth and sturdy surface while painting. Cover the workstation/floor with some newspaper as well so that the paint doesn’t stain anything.

You should also create an outline of the design in this step. Use masking tapes on the midsoles, toe caps, etc. to protect those areas from the spray paint.

Step 4: Spray Paint The Shoes

Put on your face masks and start to paint the designated areas. Don’t go back and forth while spraying. Instead, try to employ long and linear strokes to spread the paint evenly.

If you’re using multiple colors, make sure to use masking tapes appropriately to avoid over spraying on the same spot. Remain extra vigilant while spraying near the edges.

Step 5: Let The Paint Dry Up

After the initial application, wait for at least an hour before applying the next coat. There’s no need to apply a second layer if the color’s already dark enough.

Make sure the paint is completely dry to the touch before spraying the consecutive layers afterward.

Step 6: Remove The Tape

After applying the final layer, wait for an hour and a half before removing the masking tapes. Peel them off gently to reveal the perfect edges underneath the tape.

Step 7: Cure The Paint

Leave the newly-painted shoes in a cold but well-ventilated place to cure the paint. You can use a clear spray sealant to lock in the paint. Let the paint cure for at least 24 hours before taking the shoes to the streets.

Read More: How Old To Buy Spray Paint?

How To Clean Spray Paint Off Shoes?

It’s easy to clean spray paint off windows or varnished wood. Simply use some glass cleaner and the chemicals will melt the paint right away. However, it’s a little tricky to clean spray paint off shoes due to the unevenness of the surface.

But mistakes happen all the time, especially if you’re trying to be really creative. So, follow these methods to get out spray paint so that you can redesign the shoes effectively –

Baking Powder Paste

Mix some warm water and baking powder together and smear the paste on the painted surface. Wait for 15-20 minutes and let the paste dry up. But first, use vegetable oil or cooking oil and massage the area to soften up the paint.

Wash off the paste with a mixture of dish soap and water. Scrub with a soft sponge to prevent scratching the leather. Repeat the process until the color fades away completely.


With cloth shoes, use acetone to dissolve the paint within the fabric. Use a sponge and dab the fabric with acetone first. Afterward, wash it off with dish soap and water.

While applying the acetone, don’t fret if the colors start to dissipate instead of fading away instantly. Give it a rinse after waiting for a while and repeat the process with the leftover paint.

Lacquer Thinner

If the previous two options don’t work out, use lacquer thinners to get the paint out. Professional strength lacquer thinners can help to evaporate spray paint super quickly. However, make sure to wear face masks to avoid inhaling the concentrated alcohol particles while spraying the thinner.

Read More – Does Fabric Paint Wash Off?

Spray Painting Shoes: Top 5 Customization Tips

Reckless spray painting can not only ruin the design but also the texture of the shoe material. To avoid that, here are the top 5 customization tips for spray painting shoes –

1. Use Small Nozzles

Bigger nozzles will cover more surface area at a time. And with shoes, you won’t have a lot of surface area to begin with. Hence, avoid using big nozzles if you’re spray painting shoes, especially if you’re trying to create intricate designs.

In addition to being detail-oriented, you can avoid overspraying as well with small nozzles.

Again, if you’re painting the entire shoe in a single color, then it’s better to use a slightly bigger nozzle. That way, you can cover more space at a time. However, over-spraying can increase the concentration of the color in some specific areas. If you can’t maintain the positional symmetry, it’s best to use smaller nozzles and cover the areas slowly but effectively.

2. Practice First

It’s not easy to operate a spray can smoothly. Overspraying is the most common mistake in beginners.

So, if you’re looking to spray paint shoes, practice first. Find some old sneakers and go to town on them. Once you figure out the movements of the hand for proper nozzle placement, you won’t have a hard time spraying anymore.

3. Arrange For Proper Ventilation

You should spray paint in a comparatively enclosed space so that the particles don’t float away to the other areas. However, don’t forget to arrange for ample ventilation after finishing the painting procedure.

One, the proper flow of air will allow the spray paint to dry faster. And two, it’ll help the residual spray paint to dissipate. You can also keep the shoes in front of a stand fan to help the paint dry faster.

Read More – Does Paint Dry Darker Or Lighter?

4. Avoid fireplaces

Remember that all sorts of aerosol products are highly flammable. Hence, avoid fireplaces or any active sources of fire while you’re spray painting shoes.

Again, some people recommend using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process after paint application. It’s not wise to follow up with this idea if you’re using spray paint. Both epoxy and enamel spray paint will lose their adhesive properties significantly in contact with hot air.

That’s why, it’s best to let spray-painted shoes dry naturally by allowing proper circulation of air inside the room. Heat and spray paint don’t go hand in hand at all.

5. Apply Light But Consistent Layers

 If the color doesn’t seem to pop much, you can apply 2-3 coats or more while spray painting shoes. Don’t keep spraying in the same area to intensify the color.

Instead, apply the paint layer by layer. After applying the first layer, wait for an hour and let it dry up. Don’t take off the tapes before the paint dries completely.

Depending on the design, you can reposition the tapes once the paint is dry. Then apply the second layer and so on. The color intensity will gradually increase. Again, if you’re using glitter spray paint, avoid putting on too many layers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will all-purpose spray paint ruin the quality of the leather?

No, since the paint doesn’t get absorbed into the leather, the quality of the leather stays intact. However, if the surface is bumpy, the paint layer may crack later on. Hence, it’s important to jam newspapers in the toe box so that the leather surface stays totally upright while painting.

Is spray paint good for canvas sneakers?

While it’s okay to use spray paint for canvas sneakers, the paint type is not the best-in-slot for these types of shoes. Fabric paint will sit on the surface of cloth shoes better and the color will also feel more vibrant and dynamic.

Will spray paint make my loafers waterproof?

Normal spray paint won’t make your loafers waterproof. However, water-resistant spray paint such as acrylic and enamel spray paint can offer better protection from water.

Before You Go

Spray painting is a fun and inexpensive option to try out bold and dynamic designs with your favorite shoes. So, the next time you’re looking to spruce up those dull-looking sneakers, make sure to go over this guide attentively.

And, if you’re looking to use spray paint on more stuff around the house, check out – Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

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