In short, the answer is yes – you can paint leather furniture. You can paint faux leather, leather furniture, leather shoes, pretty much any leather surface you can think of can be painted so long as the right paints are used.
Painting leather furniture is a great way to give it a new life, bringing your sofa or leather club chair back to life and can even help to increase its value, should you be wanting to sell it. Painted leather furniture lasts well, so long as the paint job is done well, and can be done to create a matte look, or a glossy look to your couch and ottoman – whatever your desired look, there will be a leather paint and a finish that will create it for you.
What paint can be used to paint leather?
There are a few different paints that work and last well on leather surfaces. For leather shoes, typically black leather paint or white leather paint is recommended, and these are the most readily available leather paints out there. The other options are:
Acrylic paint: Angelus Brand Leather Paint
Acrylic paint is water-based and works well as leather paint, in fact, many acrylic paints are designed to be used as leather paints! They are safe to use and easy to clean up and are known to be long-lasting and economical.
The most recommended acrylic paint is Angelus Brand Leather Paint, which has a range of acrylic leather paints for use on leather furniture. The brand is inexpensive and has a huge range of colours available.
Leather dye: The Leather Colour Doctor
The word “paint” can be misleading to some because most leather is actually dyed using various pigments and leather treatment products. The Leather Colour Doctor is one of a few companies that colour match leather dyes exactly to your item and supply all of the relevant cleaning, preparation and leather sealing products you will need to complete the job properly.
Metallic paint: Angelus Brand Leather Paint
Metallic paint provides leather furniture with a shiny, metallic smooth finish. It can also be bought from Angelus Brand and is a great paint to use if you’re looking to create a feature chair or couch.
Chalk paints: Dixie Bell
Chalk paints create a finish with a bit more texture, but work just as well as other paints do on leather furniture. They are a great way to keep your leather sofa in keeping with your colour scheme, and Dixie Bell has a great range of colours available.
How to paint your leather sofa
It is reasonably easy to paint leather, however, there are many steps in the process. It is important that you do all of them properly, otherwise, you might end up with a painted leather sofa that cracks or wears away, rendering your time spent painting your leather furniture pointless.
1. Protect the floor and nearby walls
Before you begin to paint your leather furniture, you should be sure to either take your leather sofa, leather ottoman or leather chair into a garage where you don’t mind some mess or place down a large plastic tarp or drop cloth to protect your floors and walls from any excess paint splatter as you go about the painting process. It is much better to cover a drop cloth in paint than it is your walls or floors!
2. Prepare the area
Many paints smell a little bit unpleasant, and it is unwise to breathe them in for any length of time. So before you begin to work on your leather furniture, open the windows in the room you’re in, and make sure that you have sufficient airflow in and out of the room.
3. Clean the leather sofa
Using warm water, dish soap and a damp cloth, damp rag or even a microfiber cloth, give your leather sofa a good wash. You should ensure to rub away any grease, stains or debris from your sofa to ensure that you can create a smooth finish for your paint.
4. Determine whether your sofa is made of protected leather or not
If your leather couch has a protective covering on it, then you need to remove it before you begin your first coat, as it will work against you, preventing any paint from adhering to the leather. To determine whether your sofa is protected or not, drop a few drops of water onto the material. If it absorbs into the material, you can get on with priming the sofa. Otherwise, move to step 5.
5. Remove the protective coating
You must remove the coating to let the paint adhere to the leather. Without removing it, there will be a barrier between your paint and your leather, preventing adhesion occurring. To remove it, first put on a mask and rubber gloves, and then use rubbing alcohol to gently rub away the protective coat on the leather. Leave the furniture to air dry, and then do the water droplet test once more to see if the coating is gone.
6. Tape over any non-leather elements
Many leather sofas and armchairs have copper rivets or wooden feet, and these must be protected from the leather paint. Using painter’s tape, cover these areas up carefully.
7. Prime your leather sofa
Mix acrylic paint with water (use an equal amount of both) or purchase a primer. Using a foam paint brush and long, solid strokes, begin to paint the primer onto the leather in thin layers. Once one coat is done, leave to dry and then do a second coat. This will help with paint adhesion.
8. Paint leather
Using your chosen leather paint, begin to paint your leather furniture. Use a foam paint brush and ensure that you only do long, careful strokes to avoid any brush marks. Once the first coat is done, leave it to dry completely. During the drying stage, occasionally pull the leather taut to protect from future cracks in the paint. Once dry, apply the next coat.
9. Leave to dry
You need to then leave your furniture to dry completely for upwards of 6 hours.
10. Apply a finisher
Use an acrylic paint finisher to seal your paint work and ensure that the finish stays smooth. You can use a foam paint brush for this, too, and should also ensure to use long strokes when applying. Leave to dry, and then your leather furniture has been painted successfully.