Leather has always been a favorite material for artists because of its durability and versatility.
And leather products have become more popular again in recent years.
The best paint to apply to leather is acrylic paint, as it can be used in many different ways.
It dries quickly, so you don’t need to wait long before applying the next layer.
You can use it to create designs or simply add color to your project.
The only thing that you should keep in mind when painting on leather is that it will not dry out as other materials do.
So if you want to make sure that your design stays intact, you should protect it with an additional sealant.
We take a look at how to apply acrylic leather on paint the right way, and how to seal it properly so your artwork lasts for many years to come.
What’s The Best Paint For Leather?
There are several paints available on the market that work well on leather. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Leather Acrylic Paint
There is one type of paint that stands above all others: leather craft acrylic paint.
This is a special type of acrylic paint designed specifically for leather projects.
It contains no solvents, which makes it perfect for working with leather. It also dries very quickly, making it easy to work with.
This means that you won’t spend hours waiting for the paint to dry. You can start immediately after your application.
And since it doesn’t contain any solvents, it does not damage your leather. So you can even use this paint on leather shoes and bags.
Alternatively, you can also use standard acrylic paint which is usually used for paper, wood, or canvas.
This is much cheaper than the leather paint but it will not stick to the leather.
With normal acrylic paint, you’ll notice quickly that the paint cracks and peels off after a while.
This example shows that not all paints can be used to paint leather items.
Acrylic leather paint can be used on any type of leather and leather product.
This type of paint is specifically designed for the application with leather which makes it also much more durable than other paints.
This is particularly important if you paint leather clothes.
This clothing will need to be dry cleaned which involves a steaming and heat process which can be very aggressive on most paints.
Acrylic leather paint can withstand heat, steam, and other extremes.
This means that you can also easily clean your leather clothes by hand without worrying about damaging them.
Acrylic Spray Paint
As an alternative to acrylic leather paint, you can also use acrylic spray paint.
This is ideal for larger leather areas, and you can ensure that the paint isn’t applied too thick.
This will give your artwork an even look. And because it has a fine texture, it will not crack or peel away from the leather surface.
The downside of this paint is that it requires a lot of effort to get it perfectly smooth.
However, if you’re looking for something quick and easy, then this might be the best option.
Another option is to dye your leather using a natural dye. There are several types of dyes available on the market.
Some of these dyes are made from plants, while others are synthetic. You can find both organic and non-organic dyes in stores.
These dyes are safe to use on leather products. They don’t require any additional chemicals, which makes them great for beginners.
However, they do have their downsides as well. If you choose to use a plant-based dye, you’ll need to seal it as the dye is water-soluble.
If you want to avoid this problem, then you should go with a synthetic dye.
However, keep in mind that leather dyes may fade over time, so make sure to apply a clear topcoat or sealant to your leather project.
Another option would be to use a primer before applying the paint. A good primer will help to give your leather a nice finish.
You can use a regular acrylic primer or a special leather primer.
These primers have been specially formulated to allow for proper adhesion between the leather and the paint.
They may require a little extra effort when painting, but they do provide excellent results.
The Right Brush For Painting On Leather
Leather is a very durable material, but it does require some special care. You shouldn’t just throw any old brush onto it.
To get the most from your leather projects, you should invest in a good-quality brush. A nylon brush works well for this purpose.
A good quality brush is also important when using acrylic paints.
If you are going to work on a large surface area, then you should consider buying a larger brush.
If you are working on small areas, however, you can go for a smaller one.
When choosing your brushes, try to find ones that are easy to clean.
This means that they won’t clog up easily and you’ll be able to remove all the excess paint without having to buy new brushes.
How To Apply Acrylic Paints On Leather
Now that we’ve covered what kind of paint and brush you should use, let’s see how to apply the paint onto your leather item properly.
When working with acrylic paints, make sure that you wear gloves.
Even if they’re not made specifically for handling acrylics, latex rubber gloves will help prevent you from getting paint on your hands.
Clean The Leather Surface
First, you want to make sure that you have thoroughly cleaned your leather item. If you don’t, then you could end up ruining your leather.
After cleaning, you can either wipe down the leather with a damp cloth, or you can use a cleaner.
If you are using a leather cleaner, make sure that you read the instructions carefully. Some cleaners could cause damage to your leather.
If you choose to use a damp cloth, make sure that you only use one with a little bit of water and soap.
You don’t want to saturate the leather with water.
Protect Your Work Area
Next, you want to protect your work area to ensure that no acrylic paint ends up on your work surface or clothes.
This includes the table where you are working, as well as the walls around you.
It’s always a good idea to cover these surfaces with plastic sheets. This will prevent paint spots from possibly damaging your surfaces.
Acrylic paint is difficult to get out of clothes and other surfaces.
Particularly when the paint has dried a little, it’s almost impossible to remove without leaving stains.
The best way to protect your clothes from acrylic paint stains is to wear an apron.
Open The Window
All paints release fumes in some way, so it’s best to open the window to avoid inhaling any paint fumes.
Alternatively, you can also wear a face mask. This will prevent you from inhaling the fumes.
However, they may still be in the air when you take your mask off, so we recommend working in a well-ventilated area whenever you work with paint.
Apply The Paint
When applying the leather paint onto your leather product, you don’t need to dilute the paint.
You simply apply it to the surface in a single coat.
Make sure that you apply enough coats to completely cover the entire surface. Otherwise, you won’t achieve a perfect result.
You must allow each coat to dry for at least two hours, so as not to smear or smudge any of the paint.
It’s best to apply only thin layers. They dry quickly and they won’t crack later when the paint is dry.
If you want to create details or different designs, you may want to use tape to mark any areas that you want to keep paint-free.
Depending on the type of leather you use, you may struggle to apply the paint. Then, you could apply a paint primer, so the paint adheres better.
Alternatively, you can also blend equal parts of water-based acrylic leather paint and water. You only need to do this for the first coat.
Then wait for some minutes and carry on painting the rest of your leather area with the undiluted acrylic paint.
Once you’ve finished painting, you’ll need to let the leather dry. It should take about 24 hours before you’re able to move on to the next step.
You can speed up the drying process by placing the leather in direct sunlight or under a fan.
You shouldn’t leave the leather unattended during its drying period.
If you have pets, you might want to place the leather somewhere else until it dries fully.
If you notice any cracks or tears while the leather is drying, you can fill them with clear nail polish.
This will seal the small holes and prevent them from getting bigger over time.
How To Seal Painted Leather
After you’ve painted your leather item, you should protect it further so the paint doesn’t peel off.
Sealing your leather project will help to retain the vibrant colors and it will stop the acrylic paint from cracking.
Here are the key steps to seal your acrylic painted leather items.
Clean And Dry The Painted Surface
First of all, you should clean the surface thoroughly. Wipe away any excess dirt and dust using a soft cloth.
Let the leather dry completely before sealing it. This is to ensure no water or dirt is trapped underneath the sealant.
Apply The Sealant
The most common sealants used for leather projects are spray sealants or liquid paint finishers.
The spray sealant is effectively a transparent paint to leather application.
This acrylic paint finisher is quick and easy to apply as a spray, and you can control the evenness of the coat better.
In comparison, a liquid paint sealant can result in a thicker sealing coat which may take longer to dry.
This is the reason why many artists choose to dilute this finisher with water.
When you apply the sealant, you mustn’t want to put too much of it on. The leather area shouldn’t be soaked or too wet.
Once you are done with the first coat, leave the finisher to dry for five minutes. This should be done for each coat.
We recommend applying up to 20 coats. This may sound initially like a lot but as you are only applying thin coats, you will need a lot of them.
It’s advisable to waterproof the leather after the final coat has dried.
This will make sure that the paint on leather stays protected against moisture and humidity.
Apply one or two coats depending on how thick you want the finish to be. You can use a brush or an airbrush.
After you apply the final waterproofing coat, let it dry for at least 24 hours until you touch the leather area again.
Alternatives To Acrylic Paint Sealant
If you can’t paint finisher or sealant, there are alternatives available.
These alternatives aren’t as effective in waterproofing and covering the acrylic paint but they are a quick solution.
Here are some of the most popular paint sealant alternatives.
You can use hairspray to create a temporary protective layer on your leather.
It won’t provide the same protection as a sealant but it will keep the paint intact.
Another alternative to sealant is Mod Podge.
This product is a great way to temporarily cover up the acrylic paint without having to do a full-on painting job.
The advantage of mod podge is that most of us will have it at home, so it’s immediately available.
If you are using mod podge to cover acrylic paint on your leather item, you should not apply too much.
While mod podge isn’t as effective as a finisher, it’s a great alternative that might be suitable for smaller leather creations.
A fabric medium is another option to seal the leather.
It isn’t a traditional sealant but it is commonly used to get paint to stick better to surfaces. It protects the paint from cracking and peeling.
You can also mix your acrylic paint with fabric medium which will make the paint stick easier to the leather surface.
While it doesn’t offer the same level of protection as a sealant, it does help to protect the leather from moisture.
How To Prevent Acrylic Paint From Cracking
Leather is a tough material that takes a lot of abuse. While it’s easy to clean, it can be hard to keep looking great.
Leather is made of natural materials like animal skin and hides. These materials are soft and flexible, so they can stretch easily.
They absorb dirt and stains easily, and they can become stiff and brittle.
Cracks are a common problem when applying acrylic paint to leather.
They occur because the acrylic paint dries out quickly and this results in cracks forming.
We put together a handy guide on how to stop the acrylic paint on your leather from cracking.
Stick To The Same Paint Brand
When you’re working with acrylic paints, it’s always best to stick to the same brand.
If you change brands, then you’ll find that the consistency of the paint changes.
This means that the paint will dry differently and you could end up with different problems.
Allow Each Coat To Dry
Each time you apply a new coat of acrylic paint, allow it to dry completely before applying the next one.
This ensures that each coat of paint sticks well to the previous one.
This will prevent any bubbles from forming and it will ensure that the paint remains smooth and even.
Flex The Leather Before Each Coat
Before applying each coat of acrylic paint, flex the leather piece by pulling it gently along its length.
This helps to remove any wrinkles and creases which may form during application.
Use A Brush Or Airbrush
Airbrushing is ideal for creating an even finish on the leather.
This method allows you to control where the paint goes and prevents air pockets from forming.
Brushes are good for creating thicker layers of paint.
However, if you want to achieve a thin and even finish, then spray paint is your best option.
Always Apply A Sealant
After applying each coat of acrylic or water-based paint, apply a sealant or acrylic finisher. This will give your leather a long-lasting finish.
It will also protect your paint against fading and scratching.
Use Thin Layers Of Paint
Thin layers of paint work best on leather. By applying small amounts of paint, you can create a very fine finish.
However, don’t overdo it. Too many thin coats of paint can result in a patchy finish.
Avoid Heat While Still Wet
If you place your painted leather while the paint is still drying, then the paint dries too quickly and this will lead to cracks.
Always wait until the paint has dried completely and allow your leather item to dry in a dry and cool place.
How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Leather
If you have accidentally spilled some of your acrylic paint on the leather or you want to change parts of your painted design, then you will need to remove the acrylic paint from the leather surface.
You must remove the acrylic paint immediately when you notice this.
Acrylic paint does leave stains on all surfaces, including leather, so it’s best to remove the paint while it’s still wet.
Here are some methods that show you how to clean off acrylic paint from leather.
Soapy Water And A Bristle Brush
To remove acrylic paint from leather, use soapy water and a soft-bristle brush.
Mix equal parts of warm water and dish soap. Then apply this mix to the paint area that you want to remove.
Allow it to soak in for half an hour. You will then be able to wipe away the rest of the paint with a cloth or a towel.
Alternatively, dip the bristles of a soft bristle brush into the mixture and scrub away gently at the paint.
You must do this slowly and carefully, as even the soft bristles may damage the leather.
Another way to get rid of acrylic paint is to use wet wipes. This is a great solution for immediate paint removal.
Simply moisten a wipe and rub it across the paint.
You should only use these on the areas of the leather that you want to remove the paint from.
Another way to remove acrylic paint from leather is to add rubbing alcohol onto the spots.
It works just as well as a wet wipe, and it doesn’t leave any marks behind.
Gently rub the spot with an alcohol-soaked cotton pad.
Acetone Or Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish remover is another alternative to removing acrylic paint from leather.
Simply dab a little acetone or nail polish remover onto a cotton ball and lightly rub it over the paint.
Allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping away the excess.
Pour some of the petroleum jelly onto a piece of paper and spread it out evenly over the paint area.
Then press down gently with a plastic spatula or spoon. The petroleum jelly will absorb the paint and help you to remove it.
Once you’ve removed the paint, let the leather dry thoroughly. You can then remove the excess Vaseline with a cloth.
Olive Oil Or Cooking Oil
Oil is another effective method of removing acrylic paint from leather without damaging the surface.
Dip a cotton swab into olive oil or cooking oil and gently rub it over the paint area.
Leave it there for a few seconds and then take a knife to gently scrape away the paint.
You will need to mix some baking soda and vinegar and apply it to the spot to remove the oil.
Scraper Or Knife
A scraper or knife can also help you remove the paint from the leather. Use a blunt blade to scrape away the paint carefully.
If the paint is very stubborn, then you should use some rubbing alcohol or acetone to soften the acrylic paint first.
The last option is to simply use cotton balls.
Dip one into a small amount of water and gently dab it on the paint area that you want to remove. The paint should come right off.
This is a very simple process but only works when the paint is still very wet.
Some artists shy away from using acrylic paint on leather because it tends to crack and peel if you are not careful.
However, if you follow our tips, we are sure you will be able to create beautiful artworks on leather in no time!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Get Acrylic Paint To Stick To Leather?
The easiest way to get acrylic paint to stick to your leather is by using a primer coat.
Primer coats are applied directly to the leather before painting. They allow the paint to stick more easily.
Alternatively, acrylic leather paint has been designed for paint applications on leather, so this paint will stick much better than standard acrylic.
How Do You Keep Paint From Cracking On Leather?
There are many different ways to keep acrylic paint from cracking on leather.
One of the most common methods is to just apply thin layers of paint and allow them to dry thoroughly.
You should also apply a sealant to ensure that your acrylic paint is protected against moisture.