What Kind of Spray Paint To Use on Shoes? 7 Terrific Options

An overhead view of five cans of uncapped spray paint and two caps on a wood table.

Designing your shoes is always fun and is a very creative way to express yourself.

Spray paints are great when you want to give your shoe a new color and a personal look, but will any kind do the trick or do you need to use a special paint?  

What kind of spray paint do you use on shoes? For fabric shoes, use fabric spray paints for the best results. Spray paints designed specifically for leather are the best choice for leather, vinyl, or plastic shoes. Any acrylic spray paint can be used, but the results may not be as good as with sprays designed for leather.

The whole point of spray painting your shoes is to make them look good, right?

Use the wrong kind of paint, and you might wind up watching your paint bleed everywhere or quickly chip away. Not exactly what you were going for. 

No worries!

After reading the following, you’ll know exactly what type of spray paint you need for your specific shoe type and will have the confidence and know-how to start painting right away.

What Works and What Doesn’t

Spray paints are usually the best on leather or vinyl shoes. Look for a small nozzle when choosing a spray to minimize over spraying.

Leather spray paint works with leather or vinyl shoes, but for cloth and canvas shoes you should use fabric spray paint

Here are some dos and don’ts when spray painting your shoes: 

  • When spray painting your shoes, make sure to use multiple thin coats of spray paint until you have reached the desired color. Painting with thick coats will just leave your shoes with a patchy finish. 
  • Make sure to let each coat fully dry for at least an hour between applications. Do not be impatient. Applying more paint on a wet coat will leave your shoes patchy. Wet paint is usually darker than the dried color, which can confuse you when applying another layer. 
  • Another way to prevent a blotchy finish is to use long strokes, spraying 7-10 inches from the shoe. Having this distance and applying it with long strokes will help you achieve an even layer of spray paint. 
  • An extra tip is to start spraying from the outside of the shoe and not directly on the shoe. In that way, you can control the paint better. 
  • Metallic colors can be tricky to achieve, but using a nonmetalic base coat that is similar to the metallic paint will help. This nonmetallic base coat will give you an even surface to work with. 
  • If you want to paint your shoe with multiple colors, use masking tape to cover the areas that you don’t want to paint. Start with the lighter color first since it is easier to cover up mistakes with a darker color. 

Best Spray Paints for Shoes

The best spray paint for your shoes depends on what material the shoe is made of.

If your shoes are made of suede and nubuck, you want to find the best spray paint for leather shoes.

If your shoe is made of cotton, nylon, or polyester, you may not want to use spray paint, as options are somewhat limited.

However, there are plenty of paints available that are just perfect for fabric shoes (check out your best options here). 

If your heart is set on spray painting fabric shoes, try Tulip Color Shot.

There are 25 colors to choose from, and the paint dries nice and soft so you won’t have to worry too much about cracking or peeling.

Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Spray Color 3oz....
  • Spray paint for fabric. Aerosol Fabric Spray available in a 3-oz. spray can. Works great on natural...
  • Dries quickly and soft to the touch. Colors can be blended on fabric

If you are spray painting shoes with your kids, make sure to select spray paints that are toxic free, low odor, and safe. Otherwise, you can wear a mask and spray in ventilated areas. 

When choosing spray paint, you also want to be looking at the durability.

This might not be a priority when you only need the color to stay on for a couple of days, but if you are looking for a permanent change, you want to buy premium paint that lasts for a year at least

Recommended spray paints for vinyl, leather, and plastic shoes are from brands like:

Be sure to check out “Best Leather Spray Paint for Shoes” for more options, prepping tips, and sealing advice.

Prepping Shoes for Spray Painting

The base color or the color of the shoes usually doesn’t matter when spray painting with a different color.

The right spray paint can generally cover any color with a few coats and with patience. 

  • Start by cleaning your shoes’ surface. Use a preparer/deglazer (Angelus is the best) or acetone to remove the shiny finish. Apply with a cotton pad or rag, and rub until they appear to have a dull surface.
  • Remove any cotton fibers, and let the shoes dry
  • Alternatively, you might want to sand the finish away. Rub the shoes in small circular motions, and continue sanding until the shoe has a dull appearance. 
  • Once the shoes have a clean, dry surface, stuff the shoes with newspaper or plastic bags to help maintain the shape and allow the paint to cover evenly. 
  • Use masking tape to cover any areas you don’t want to paint. Shoe soles are not easily painted and do not hold spray paint well.
  • Don’t forget to remove the shoe strings before spraying the shoes. 

Protecting Shoes After Spray Painting

After having spray painted your shoes, it is crucial to protect them with a finishing layer. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste.

Finishes have two purposes:

  • A finish protects the shoe and preserves your spray paint job. You will be able to clean your shoe better without damaging the color. 
  • The finish can also give the shoe a matte or a glossy surface. You can again be creative in your choice of a shiny or muted finish. The right finish can really enhance color and give the shoes a professional look. 

Here again, use thin coats of whatever finish you choose (Angelus is highly recommended), and let the coats dry between applications

Related Questions:

Can You Use Different Types of Paint on a Pair of Shoes? 

Yes, you can use different types of paint and techniques on a single pair of shoes, depending on the shoe’s material.

You can use spray paint as a base and combine it with paint markers or leather paint to add details to your leather or vinyl shoes. 

Painting with the wrong paint on leather or vinyl shoes can easily leave brush stroke marks behind, but leather paints, which are acrylic, will not leave any brush strokes, and they dry quickly.

Fabric paint is better for cloth shoes, so avoid fabric paint for leather and vinyl shoes.  

Even if you use spray paint as a base before adding details, you should still properly prepare the shoe as described above.

Also, adding a finishing layer to protect the shoes is advised even if you have added different paint types. 

Is Acrylic Paint Good for All Types of Shoes? 

Acrylic paint, if applied correctly, will work with any shoe type.

However, acrylic paint can chip, peel or crack over time and with movement if applied incorrectly or a finisher is not used.

On leather and vinyl shoes, acrylic paint can easily be washed away and reapplied if mistakes are made when painting, but once dry, acrylic paint is water resistant


Spray painting your shoes doesn’t have to be complicated.

Look for a spray that matches your desired color and that will stick to your shoe. There are specific spray paints for fabric or leather and vinyl shoes. 

Take your time and cover your shoe with multiple thin coats of spray paint.

Use long spray strokes 7-10 inches away from the shoe to achieve an even new color. 

Other paints could also be combined with spray paints. Acrylic paints and paint markers are great for details.

Spray paints are the best for covering large areas of the shoes.

The sky is the limit for how you can use spray paint to design your shoes. Make them yours! 






Last update on 2024-05-26 at 15:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!