Can You Spray Paint Shoes? (How To DIY Explained)

Why spend your hard-earned cash on new shoes - when you can simply spray paint them? It may sound crazy, but this trend is becoming increasingly popular and can yield some great results.

But can you spray paint shoes to look as great as new models? The answer is yes - and we have all you need to know!

Spray painting shoes is a great way to add a new lease of life to a tired old pair and is actually a far more simple process than you may have thought.

As a rule, aerosol-based sprays are usually the best option here, especially if you are using specialist fabric paints - this allows the paint to be more easily absorbed into the entire shoe and will create a smoother, more even overall effect.

If you are new to spray painting shoes, the best option is painting that comes ready in spray painting  cans - this will allow you to simply point and go, making it much easier to transform your sneakers.

This will tend to be fabric paints or acrylic paint, as these adhere to the flat surface of the shoe effectively and eliminate the need for you to add the painting to a spray gun yourself, which can be a little tricky if you are new to these types of crafts.

paint on rubber shoes

What Kind Of Paint Sticks Best To Shoes?

You may wonder which type of diy is best for transforming your sneakers. There are various types of paints, and the best option will depend on the material of your shoes.

To Leather Shoes

Many people assume that leather shoes cannot be painted with spray paint, but this is not the case - you can invest in specialist leather paint to add a new lease of life for your shoes. This is similar to acrylic paint and is designed to stick to the surface of leather shoes without peeling or fading.

To Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes are usually the easiest to paint, as the fabric absorbs the paint more easily, leading to permanent results that do not fade or smear.

Acrylic paint is the preferred choice for spray painting canvas or cloth shoes, as this is very easy to apply and enough paint on shoes dry quickly, allowing you to wear your new shoes in no time.

To Suede Shoes

The nature of suede as a material means that it can be tricky to paint job; many acrylic spray paints may be unsuitable for this type of surface as it cannot adhere properly, leading to the color bleeding and not staying put.

Instead, fabric paint and specialist spray paint, designed for this purpose, is typically the best option for this type of shoe.

How To Choose Spray Paints For Shoes?

Now that we have taken a closer look at the best type of paint for different types of shoes, you may be wondering how you can go about choosing the best type of spray paint for your shoe. There are a number of considerations here, and we took a closer look at these below.

Use High-Quality Ingredients From Trusted Brands

The most important consideration when choosing the right spray paint for your shoe is to make sure of high-quality materials and to choose a spray painting from a brand that can be trusted.

Though, on the whole, paint is relatively safe when used in small doses, leather paint, acrylic paints, and spray paint can potentially carry a risk of harm to health.[1]

In some cases, the ingredients used in certain paints can be toxic, and this is why it is important to be selective with your choice.

Make sure you do plenty of research to purchase paints that uses the highest quality ingredients and that is from a brand with a good reputation for providing safe, high-quality materials.

In addition, quality brands will usually be more environmentally aware; some cheaper products can cause serious damage to the waterways when they have washed down the sink and may use non-eco-friendly methods in producing their paints and products.[2]

Angelus paints are often the go-to brand for perfect spray painted shoes, and they have a great reputation for high-quality paint job to take your shoes from drab to fab in no time.

Use a High-Quality, Long Lasting Finish

You also need to ensure that the spray paint you choose lasts for a long time. Not only does this means that your shoes will look great for years to come, but it also boosts your eco credentials; there will be no need to replace your shoes anytime soon, and you will use fewer materials to transform your sneakers.

To help your shoes last longer, you can also use a clear matte spray paint or acrylic sealer spray once you have applied the initial coat of spray paint (thin coats). This will help to "fix" the color, and ensure that your new shoes last for years to come.

Make It Easy To Cleanup

Another important - often overlooked - element of choosing the perfect spray paint is to ensure that you pick something easy to clean. 

It is inevitable that there will be a little mess incurred when you spray paint your vinyl shoes, no matter how much newspaper you put down, so pick a paint that can be easily cleaned as you go.

various color spray paints

How To Spray Paint Shoes In 6 Easy Steps

Now that we have looked at the key considerations to bear in mind when choosing your materials to spray paint shoes, you may be wondering just how you go about achieving the perfect pair of shoes. Our step-by-step guide will give you all of the information that you need.

Before you start spraying, the first step is to ensure that you have the materials that you need, and these will include:

  • A pair of old shoes
  • Your chosen spray paint
  • A sealant or finishing spray
  • Cotton balls or an old rag
  • Protective gloves
  • Painters tape or masking tape
  • Coverings for the surfaces - newspaper or plastic bags work well.

1. Remove Dirt and Debris From Shoes

The first stage in the process is to remove any dirt or debris from your old shoes. Start by brushing away any obvious debris or loose dirt with a stiff brush, and then use a damp cloth to gently rub at any remaining paint markers, dirt, or debris on the shoe’s surface.

This stage is important; the spray paint will not adhere to the surface of the shoes properly if there is any dirt or debris, which can also cause the color to become patchy and uneven as it dries. Therefore, to help the spray painting stay in place, the surface of the shoes must be clean and dry.

2. Put Newspaper Or Plastic Bag Onto Floor

The next step is to cover the surface you plan to work on with plastic bags or newspapers. This will help to protect your furniture and ensure that the spray paint stays focused on the shoes rather than the surroundings!

3. Use Masking Tape

Once you have prepared the area, use masking tape to outline the design you want to add to your shoes. This is your chance to get creative and bring your dream to use. Next, use the masking tape to mark out the edges of the design, showing you where to spray.

Cover all areas with masking tape that you are not painting ie sole edges, and pack shoes with paper to stop overspray. Pack shoes carefully.

4. Put On Safety Gloves, Goggles, and Mask

Once your design is prepared, make sure that you are safe by donning your safety gloves, goggles, and mask. Remember that spray paints can come with risks such as an increased chance of respiratory illnesses, as well as risking diy getting into your eyes or causing irritation on the skin  [3]. You can find these protective gear at a hardware store or online.

5. Start Spray Painting Shoes

This is where the fun begins - it is time to start spraying! For best results here, take it slowly, and apply the spray paint your shoes in light coats or several thin coats, rather than adding too much at once. This will allow you to ensure that everything is even and will speed up the drying process.

Once you have completed the final coat of color, you can then add the sealant if desired; this creates a waxy finish that helps protect the paint from the elements.

6. Remove The Tape

Once the paint is dry, you can carefully remove the tape from the spray painted surface, clean any paint drips with a cotton pad or rag and warm water, and enjoy your newly painted shoes!

Tips When Spray Painting Shoes

With a little care and concentration, spray painting your shoes doesn’t have to be too difficult - and we have some top tips to help you get the best results every time with spray painting.

Variations Between Shoe Materials

One of the most important things to remember is that the paint you use will be impacted by the material of the shoes.

Paint leather shoes is a little different than paints for synthetic shoes (or jazz shoes or pointe shoes... you get the pictures), and understanding these differences will help ensure that your finished shoes look as good as possible.

If you love spray paint your shoes, then spray paints are the best option for shoes, which tends to be made of acrylic paints - especially for canvas or fabric shoes. Spray paint for leather shoes will usually include a percentage of fabric paint combined with acrylic paints to help the color adhere to the surface.

Understanding the best spray paint for shoes will ensure that you get the best results for your thrift store shoes and make the process smooth and simple.

How Do You Keep Spray Paint From Rubbing Off Shoes?

There are two main ways to prevent spray paint from rubbing - the first is to apply a sealant to “fix” the color in place, and the second is to ensure that you use the right paint for your shoes; remember, regular paint will simply rub off and fade.

How Do You Paint Leather Without Cracking It?

Leather can be a tricky material to paint, and good preparation is key. Make sure your shoes are well-oiled and polished before you start, and consider adding a primer. Use a dedicated spray paint for leather shoes, and choose a sealant to ensure the regular paint is sealed and stays in place.

paint on leather shoes

Common Spray-Painting Shoes Questions

Does spray paint wash off the shoes?

The right spray paint and proper sealant can prevent the color from fading and keep it in place, thus making it less likely for the paint to wash off shoes.

Can you spray paint converse shoes?

Yes, you can use acrylic spray paint to easily paint converse shoes, as the material tends to absorb the paint well.

How long does it take for spray paint to dry on shoes?

Spray paint drying time on shoes varies with material and paint amount. Apply thin layers and let the paint dry overnight for complete drying.


Spray paint offers a wonderful chance to transform old, tired shoes into stylish new sneakers, and this is one of the easiest DIY projects to try.

With our simple guide, you will have all you need to succeed, and take your shoes from drab to fab in no time!