Leather products have dominated our sense of fashion since their invention.
Whether it's the raw appeal of a Black leather jacket or the allure of a Red leather purse, our obsession with these materials never faded away. Even in household items like sofas and couches, or parts of automobiles like seats and steering-wheel cover, leather reigns supreme.
However, unlike our love for these products, their colors often tend to fade away.
And, as humans, we often make silly errors by spilling a cup of coffee on our favorite couch, or make a scratch on a pair of expensive Suede while walking in a hurry.
So, what's the solution?
Well, leather paints.
In this guide, we have provided you with all the necessary information to repaint or fix your favorite leather items with the best paint for leather.
If you are into leather-crafting or customizing fashion accessories, don't feel left out. We have included the finest products that will take your art to the next level.
Enough talk, let's enter the exciting world of leather paints right now!
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What Is Leather Paint And Different Uses Of It
Leather paint is a term, which is used for paints and dyes, specifically produced for coloring, crafting, decorating, and fixing leather materials.
Acrylic, Metallic, Pearlescent and dye are types of leather paints. Each of these have unique characteristics and is used for various purposes.
Acrylic Leather Paints:
Acrylic leather paint is produced by dissolving pigments through Acrylic Polymer Emulsion. These are water-solvent paints, and achieve a water- resistant feature when dried. Acrylic paints are generally used for leather-crafting, cosplaying, and customization of personal, fashion accessories like sneakers and belts.
Acrylics are easy to mix with other colors. They are also quickly washable and can be reapplied. These features will make experimenting with leather-crafting and customization techniques easy for you. It is also used to fix stains, scratches, cracks, creases, discoloring, and fading of leather purse, boots, sports footwear, jacket, belts etc.
Metallic Leather Paints:
This one is made of metal flakes. It uses a clear top-coating of Acrylic Polyurethane to deliver a glossy finish. These paints are mostly used along with vinyl paint in automobiles, as they offer glaze, protection, and durability of the colors applied.
Pearlescent Leather Paints:
Pearlescent leather paint is produced from tiny ceramic specks or “mica”. Both Metallic and Pearlescent paints are popular for coloring automobiles, usually by using an air-brush. However, Pearlescent paints offer a more versatile glaze or sheen than Metallic paints.
This paint is also used to color the interior leather parts (such as seat cover, gear cover, steering wheel cover, dashboard etc.) of a car.
Leather Dyes are usually based on either oil or alcohol. Unlike leather paints, they seep into the material, and, therefore, is more durable.
They can be used to do complete makeovers, and for heavy-duty paint jobs like recoloring furniture. Dyes also tend to be less vulnerable to dust, scratch, stain, discoloring, cracking, and fading.
However, they are not ideal to do crafty coloring that requires precision and attention to detail. They have a limited color range compared to paints and offer low vibrancy.
Our Top 10 Best Paint For Leather Picks in 2021
1. Jacquard Lumiere, Exciter Pack of 9
What do all good things have in common?
We want more of them.
Realizing that sentiment, Lumiere has brought you this amazing product. The pack contains 9 bottles of metallic paint, allowing you to create a wide range of shades. Each bottle contains 0.5-ounces of liquid. The lid of the bottles effectively seals in the liquid to avoid damage.
The color choice is quite impressive as well. In terms of Gold, you have Halo Blue, Halo Pink, Halo Violet and Sunset. The pack also includes Pewter, Russet, Pearlescent Green and Turquoise. Since this is a leather paint, you can add them with other colors to create many unique variations.
Lumiere uses a clear coating of Acrylic Polyurethane for these paints. As a result, you get a glossy paint-job with extra protection every time. The manufacturer also complies with ASTM D4236. It is a protection standard which ensures that the product does not contain any harmful elements.
You can use rubbing sponge, air brush or a paint brush to do your desired coloring. The paints work on several mediums such as leather, cotton and wood. They can also be used to paint on polymer clay and paper.
2. Kaps Dye Paint With Sponge And Brush
Sometimes we paint, sometimes we dye.
Apologies for the silly pun but we do have a point. It is important to understand the distinction between leather paints and leather dye. This product is a leather dye, not paint. Which means, it is able to seep into the leather material and therefore becomes more durable.
This dye, like most of its kind, is alcohol based. Leather paints dissolve in water, allowing you an easier clean up and multi-layering, but they also tend to fade and crack quicker. A dye, on the other hand, offers longevity and can withstand daily, rough handling.
This is the top-notch quality paint for leather to smoothly cover up the stains of your Gucci purse or scratches on your favorite leather jacket. The package contains necessary accessories like a paint brush and a rubbing sponge.
Kaps claims that this dye is specifically effective for lasting recoloring of shoes and other leather accessories.
Each jar contains 25 mL of liquid, which is sufficient for a complete paint-job of single, leather materials. You have 70 color options to choose from, which is a big plus. However, you must let the dye sit for at least 24 hours to let the color set in properly.
3. Angelus, Acrylic Leather Paint Autumn Red
Bill Blass, the iconic fashion designer, said, “When in doubt, wear Red.”
And we can already see many of you nodding heads in agreement.
This product is the tool to rejuvenate all your favorite Red, leather accessories. Whether it’s a high-end heel or a beautiful jacket, the paint can be used to repaint or fix them to your liking.
Since this is an acrylic paint, it is water-solvent. Which means you can easily clean it up and reapply. Being an acrylic paint, it also smoothly mixes with other colors to deliver you a wide variation of shades.
The product comes in a securely sealed jar, which contains 29.5-mL of liquid. The paint looks fresh and vibrant on most materials. You can use it on elements like plastic, but do remember, acrylic paint attaches to only certain kinds of plastics. So, do the research before applying.
Angelus claims that the product is waterproof, if you prepare and paint it properly. Though leather paints have a higher risk of fading and peeling, most users have not found these issues with this acrylic.
We recommend to use it for subtle paint-jobs like leather-crafting or customizing sneakers. The product may not be as useful for heavy-duty activities like painting a leather furniture.
4. Angelus, Leather Paint Set of 12
Want to hear something interesting?
Leather paints dissolve in water but when dried, becomes water resistant.
If you share our fancy with the peculiar chemistry of leather paint, you’ll love this product. Angelus brings you a powerful palette of colors to unleash your imagination with this set. The package contains all the necessary elements and more to create your favorite, custom shades.
First you have the base colors like Red, Blue, and Yellow. Then comes the secondary colors like Green, purple, and Orange. You also get Black, White, Lilac, Turquoise, Pink, and Purple. This allows you a wholesome range to do crafty leather-works.
The 12 color options come in tightly sealed jars. Each jar contains 1 ounce of liquid. The label on the jars are clear and bold, so you won’t end up confusing one paint for another. The manufacturer also adds a display case with the package for added convenience.
The paints are produced using safe materials, which means you have no risk of contact toxicity.
The set is great for customizing shoes, sneakers, bags, jackets etc. Since they dissolve in water, you can easily create multiple layers or mix them with other colors. It is also comparatively easy to clean up and reapply the paint if necessary.
5. Angelus, Leather Paint Black
If fashion was a color, it’d probably be Black.
Many of us share a special weakness for the color when it comes to any type of accessories. The dominance of black is prominent, ranging from scarfs to boots. For those cherished Black retrofit of yours, we added this product to the list.
The leather paint comes in a 4-inch jar, containing 118-mL of liquid. So, use for leather jacket, stains on a Louie Vuitton purse, wherever you want. You’ll have enough paint to bring those back to their previous glory. The paint is made from bio-safe materials and delivers a semi-gloss varnish.
You can mix the product with other dark colors, such as dark brown or grey to create unique shades. The product also works great for recoloring sports footwear and sneakers. However, for using it on silicone coated materials, you should apply a spot remover first.
A pro tip, use multiple, thin layers of the paint instead of a few, thick layers. This will prevent crease, crack and fading of the color. The paint is water-proof if you allow it to dry properly. You need to let the paint sit for at least two days to have the maximum result.
6. Mont Marte, Acrylic Paint Set 24 Colors
Mont Marte always has a way with their packaging and this product is no different.
The set contains 24 colors, ranging from Titanium white to Cerulean Blue. The tubes are made of glossy, high quality plastic. They come with lids which are easy to open and close back. Each tube contains 36-mL of acrylic paint, allowing you an even proportion of liquid to mix your favorite shades.
The paints look powerfully bright on most surfaces and have a glossy lacquer. They work fine on wood, canvas, paper, ceramic and leather. So, whether you love leather crafting or working on fabric canvases, this product will smoothly get the job done. They can also be assigned on Medium-density fiberboard and Cardboard.
Acrylic paints are made by dissolving pigments using APE (Acrylic Polymer Emulsion) technology. This product uses large amounts of Grade-A pigments to deliver you a stable creaminess of paint, along with a wide range of surface. Since these are acrylic, they also dry quickly.
The paints are water solvent. Which means you can easily mix them up with a wide variety of colors. It also allows you to clean up the paint and do numerous layers in a convenient way.
The product complies with ASTM D-4236 safety standard.
7. Angelus, Leather Paint Flat White
This product is a godsend for all things White. If you own a pair of White Vans, Nike, Adidas or any other reputable brands, this flat paint can help you in a number of ways.
For example, if the shoes get worn out, scratched or stained, you can repaint them to decorate a brand new look. Which is why the product can be considered as one of the best paint for leather shoes.
Each jar contains 118-mL of liquid. The paint is produced from bio-safe materials, so, using it won’t pose any threat to your health.
Flat, white paint is often used as a base to paint other colors over it. You can also easily mix it with other colors since the paint dissolves in water. The product works well on sports footwear, bags, jackets, belts etc.
White leather accessories get discolored and stained easily. If you simply try to wash them up with soap and water, it may worsen the situation. We recommend applying this paint as an easy and effective method to fix those issues.
The paint can work as a substitute for primers. You can also use it to light or darken the saturation of a color or a shade.
8. Angelus, Leather Paint Basics Kit
If you are just getting started with leather painting, this item can be a great starter kit. Angelus intentionally designed this product to help out the aspiring beginners.
The kit contains 6 bottles of acrylic paint, each holding 1 ounce of liquid. There are red, green and blue, so you’ve got your primary colors covered. As a result, you can create basically all the other colors from the mixture of these three paints. You also get a black and a white paint as bonuses.
The manufacturer also includes 5 paint brushes and a jar of Deglazer. So, if you want to get started with leather-crafting right away, without shopping for too many materials, this kit will be a perfect choice for you.
Also, notice that these are acrylic paints, not leather dye.
Leather dyes are harder to work with and require a certain amount of experience. They are tough to wash up and reapply, so you won’t have many chances to make mistakes.
However, with water-solvent acrylics, you can easily clean and reapply paints to smooth out your learning process.
Angelus claims this is an ideal paint for shoes, wallets, bags, belts and sofas. Nevertheless, we recommend avoiding heavy-duty paint jobs like furniture coloring with this kit.
9. U.S. Art Supply, 12 Color Pearlized Acrylic Paint Set
If we were writing an essay on this product instead of a review, the title would be “All-in-One”.
It contains 12 pearlized colors, including Wine, Silver, Magenta, Gold, Red, Black, Blue, bright Green, Purple, White, normal Green and Orange. Each bottle contains 1-ounce of liquid.
If your tool-of-choice for leather-painting is an Air-brush, this set will supply all the additional accessories. It includes 1 Airbrush Reducer & Extender Base and 1 Airbrush cleaner. The paint is specifically prepared for using with an Airbrush.
The manufacturer uses quality grade pigments to prepare the product, delivering you a smooth flow right out of the brush.
Though the package includes a Reducer, U.S Art Supply claims that you don’t need to thin out the paint, and they can be used with an Airbrush straight out of the bottle.
The colors look vivid on most surfaces. We haven’t noticed any significant fading as well, so the paint-job can be assumed as quite stable. The pearlized colors also deliver a noticeable glazed finish.
You can use the paints on numerous materials such as plastic, ceramic, metal, fabric, wood, and, of course, leather. They can also be a great choice to use on textile, combined-medium surface, fabric, canvas and paper.
10. Angelus, Leather Paint Set of 12 Colors, Assortment 2, 1oz Jars
What do we love more than pizza?
This set by Angelus contains a special kind of lid. Each lid is equipped with a small brush, which offers, you guessed it, greater convenience. The package contains 12 jars of paint, each with 1-ounce of liquid in them.
The color spectrum is perfectly covered in this package.
First, you’ve got your primary colors, Blue, Yellow, and Red. Then comes the secondary colors, Green, Orange, and Purple. And as bonuses, you also get Black, White, Brown, Pewter, Neutral and Gold. So, there are no boundaries to your imagination in terms of color choices.
These acrylic paints are water solvent; therefore, you have space to experiment with them. If you make a wrong choice on your first coloring, simply wash it off and reapply. If allowed to set in properly, the paints also become water-proof.
For a crafts lover, this is probably the best leather paint. The small brushes will help you to make detailed strokes if you are into leather crafting.
However, to use these with an airbrush you should use a paint thinner or reducer. You can also use sealers for extra protection against the fading, creasing and cracking of applied colors. We recommend using a heat gun if you intend to use these paints on fabrics.
How To Choose The Best Leather Paint
1. Leather Types
There are many variations when it comes to the quality, processing, durability, and usage of leather. As different types of leather require different paints/dyes, you must know the categories to help you choose the right product.
There are mainly 3 types of leather: Aniline, Semi-aniline, and Pigmented.
Aniline leather: It doesn’t have any pigmented or polymer coating, therefore the leather has a very organic look and feel to it. You can recognize a genuine, Aniline leather by checking if the pores and creases on the surface is clearly visible. It can be both full-grain and top-grain.
This type of leather is only processed by Aniline leather dyes. The dye is sucked in by the leather without creating a coating on the surface. However, some manufacturers may use a thin coating for extra protection.
Semi-aniline: This type is more processed than Aniline. It has a light coating on the surface with a small amount of pigmentation. The pores and creases become less visible due to the thin layer of paint on the exterior.
By sacrificing a little bit of the organic feel of Aniline, Semi-aniline provides a smoother finish and more resilient coloring.
Pigmented: Pigmented leather has a full pigmented coating on the surface. It is heavily processed. This type of leather has a top coating, a glossy finish, and are quite durable. Most types of leather paints can be used on pigmented leather.
2. Objective To Use
If you are into leather-crafting, leather paint is a more suitable option for you. They are water-solvent, and not based on alcohol like a leather dye. Therefore, paints are easy to mix, clean up, reapply and multi-layer.
They are also more flexible than dye, which allows you to experiment and do detailed paint-jobs with them.
Leather paint is also handy for fixing stains, scratches, cracks, and creases on small items, such as bags, purses, jackets, shoes etc. It is a popular choice for customizing fashion accessories as well.
If you want to add a unique touch to your sneakers or redesign a vest, paint is what you should opt for.
However, paints are less durable than dyes. Unlike dyes they don’t seep into the material, but stays on the surface. So you can’t do complete makeovers. Paints are also more prone to fading and discoloring.
For heavy-duty coloring, like repainting a furniture, dye is a better choice. You’ll also require dye to color certain leather accessories as paints won’t work on them. For example, Nubuck and Aniline Leather don’t react well to paints, so you must use dye for these items.
Always check whether the paint or dye complies to the ASTM D-4236 safety standard. The best leather paint would usually abide by this standard. It ensures that if there are any potentially harmful elements in the product, they will be listed clearly on the package.
We also recommend buying hand gloves, safety glasses, painting apron, and respiratory mask, depending on the type of paint-job.
We have a wide range of preference when it comes to the medium or material for leather painting.
For example, if you prefer to work with Nubuck, Aniline or Full grain leather, you need to pick a leather dye, such as Super Color by Kaps.
On the other hand, if Semi-aniline and Pigmented leather is your material of choice, then you can choose from a variety of leather paints like Acrylic paint, Metallic paint, Pearlescent paint etc.
Leather paints work on various mediums other than leather too.
So, if you prefer to use leather paint on materials aside from leather, such as fabric, canvas, paper, wood, mixed-media, cotton or textile, you should check the product description for compatibility.
5. Color Range And Special Features
To be among the finest leather paints available in the market, the product needs to have a diverse range of color.
Some sets include only primary and secondary colors. Other products include tertiary colors and custom shades like Turquoise, Pewter, Sunset Gold, Halo Pink etc. You can also buy a particular color like Autumn Red by Angelus, which comes in a single bottle, instead of a whole set.
For beginners, we recommend buying Painting kits, which include extra tools like paint brushes, reducer and extender base etc.
Also, keep an eye out for special features like, water-resistance and glossy finish.
Tips To Take Care Of Your Leather Items
1. Get A Boar Bristle Brush
You need to regularly clean your leather materials, that’s obvious. But with what?
Now, that’s the tricky part. If you get a brush that has too rough bristles, it will end up harming the texture and fiber-bonding of your leather item.
A Boar Bristle Brush has soft, evenly spread bristles. Using one will get the dust out without leaving any scruff or scratch on the material.
2. Take Help Of A Professional Cleaner
Expensive leather items like Suede, Nubuck or Aniline may sometime require professional care. If you feel confused about how to properly restore or clean a leather item, don’t hesitate sending it to an expert. Though the option may seem a little expensive, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
3. Keep Away From Chemical Cleansers
It is generally not a good idea to clean leather products with chemical soap and water. The combination takes out the oil off the leather, which is responsible for maintaining the product’s structural integrity.
Instead, use a soft, wet fabric to gently rub the material, after you have brushed it down. Then let it dry slowly.
It is recommended to let leather product dry in room temperature. If you dry it outdoors, the sun can cause cracks and creases on the material. Using a hair-dryer is also not recommended, as you can accidentally deliver too much heat to the surface.
4. Air Is Life
Yes, and this is true for leather items as well.
If you keep your leather jacket or purse locked in a damp closet over an extended period of time, the material will deteriorate. It can be infested with fungi and bacteria, which will eat up the surface, and gradually harm deeper layers of the leather.
Use fabric cases with air-holes to store your leather items, instead of a sealed bag. This way, your materials will have enough oxygen to prevent dampening.
5. Use Linseed Oil
There are a number of conditioners available in the market. These will help to preserve your leather for a long period of time. Conditioners also help to keep up the natural look of your leather item’s surface.
Especially, if your item is made of full grain leather, where the grains on the hide was left intact, or top grain leather, using a conditioner will help to keep those grains looking natural.
However, we recommend using natural conditioners like Linseed Oil instead of chemical ones.
6. Stay In Shape!
Yes, it is good for both you and your leather items to stay in shape.
You can use shoe trees for your leather shoes, hanger and stuffing for your vests, purses, and jackets to maintain their shape. Storing them using this method will prevent creases and loss of structure.
7. General Tips
- Keep your leather items safe from extreme heat or cold.
- Clean them on a regular basis.
- You can also use moisturizer for jackets and shiner for polished leathers.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Is The Difference Between Leather Paint And Dye?
Answer: Both are options you can use to color, craft or fix your leather items. However, paints are water-solvent and water resistant.
They are also comparatively easy to mix and create new shades, wash off and reapply. But, since they stay on the surface of the material, there is a higher risk of discoloring or fading.
Leather dye is based on oil or alcohol. They seep into the material, delivering more durability.
2. How Should I layer The Paint?
Answer: We recommend using multiple thin layers instead of a few thick ones. This will allow the color to set in properly and make it look more vibrant.
3. What Is ASTM D-4236?
Answer: The best leather paint usually comes with ASTM D-4236 approval. It is a general safety standard used for art/craft materials. It ensures a clear listing of any potentially harmful chemicals, used in the production of the material on the package.
4. Do I Need Specific Types of Paint To Use With An Air-brush?
Answer: You don’t have to but it’s recommended.
There are paints that use special pigmentation to ensure a smooth flow, while using them out of an air-brush. If you choose to use normal paints, you might need to thin them out a bit before using.
5. What Safety Measures Should I Take While Painting?
Answer: Use gloves and aprons for general paint-jobs, otherwise it can get quite messy.
If you are using an Airbrush, safety glasses are necessary. Some painting task can create toxic fumes; in those cases, a respiratory mask can save your life. Some people also prefer to wear hats and footwear covers for complete protection.
6. How Long Do I Need To Wait For The Paint To Dry?
Answer: It varies, depending on the product you are using. Leather paints can take somewhere between 24-hours to 48-hours to dry properly.
7. What Are Primers Used For?
Answer: Primers are materials that bind the layer of paint to the porous surface of the leather. Primers also block the layer of paint from being sucked into the leather, and make the paint stay on the surface.
Primers are usually applied in Tanneries but they can be applied personally as well.
8. What Is Top Coating?
Answer: Top coating is the final layer of a leather finish. Under top coating, there is a layer of color pigments, which is usually followed by a layer of primer and lastly the surface of the leather.
Top coating is necessary to provide moisture resistance and protection against discoloring. It ensures durability of the paint applied. It also offers water-resistance and extra gloss.
It can be applied separately, though acrylic paints come integrated with this feature.
Top coatings can be produced from oils, acrylics, silicones, polyurethanes or a combination of these materials. For example, metallic paints use a clear, acrylic polyurethane top coat.
We recommend using spray canned top coatings as they are easier to use. However, liquid top coating that requires a brush to apply, will allow you to do a detailed job.
“End? No, the journey doesn't end here.”
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote this line in The Return of the King, and it perfectly describes our sentiment. The journey, indeed, doesn’t end here, but simply opens a door to new beginnings.
Leather painting can be a complicated affair. Without legit information, provided in a structured way, you may feel confused and frustrated, or overspend on an unworthy product without realizing it.
Which is why, along with all the necessary information, we provided in this guide our picks of the best paint for leather. This manual will help you not only to make the best purchases, but also take care of your leather materials.
And, remember, safety is a must. So, take care of yourself alongside your cherished, leather goods.