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How to Restore Shoes
(Step By Step)


Credit: Maddy Artac

Got an old pair of leather shoes you want to revamp? Or maybe you just want to liven up plain colored ones from your collection and add a personal touch? Check out our step-by-step instructions below on how to give those boring old kicks a fresh new look.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  1. Creative Nation Acrylic Leather Paint

  2. Rubbing alcohol or acetone to remove the shiny coating on the leather

  3. Disposable sponge/cotton ball

  4. Paintbrushes



  1. Fine sandpaper to help remove especially tough leather coating.

  2. Cotton buds or Q-tips.

  3. Wooden skewers for fine lines and detail work.

  4. Newspaper to make workstation cleanup easier.

  5. Pencil and eraser for sketching.

  6. Masking tape for sharp lines.


Optional step before starting:

Put down some newspapers to make cleanup quicker.

If you want the quickest cleanup after painting, putting down newspapers on your floor and workstation is the way to go.



Remove shiny coatings with acetone or rubbing alcohol.

Some leather shoes come with a layer of transparent shiny coating to protect both the leather and the color below. Before applying paint, use a disposable sponge or cotton balls with acetone or rubbing alcohol and make sure to remove this coating. If the coating is especially thick and doesn’t come off with rubbing alcohol/acetone, then you can also lightly sand your leather shoe using fine sandpaper. The coating will prevent your paint from sticking to the leather so this step is very important!


Apply masking tape on areas you don’t want painted.

To ensure a clean job, it’s a good idea to put masking tape on any part of your shoe you don’t want paint to accidentally get on. TIP: Common areas to mask are the soles of your shoes (the rubbery area on the side) and any canvas or fabric parts.


Sketch out your design using a pencil.

If you’re new to painting in general, it’s a good idea to sketch out your design on the shoe first to make the process easier.


Use multiple thin layers.

In order for you to get the best results it is highly recommended to paint in multiple thin layers instead of just one thick layer. Using thick layers will result in a lumpy and uneven surface, and may cause the paint to crack, so make sure to avoid this. The number of layers you use will depend on the color and the feel you’re going for, but you can expect to use up to 3 layers of paint to get the best results.

Let the paint dry before adding a new layer.

If you’re eager to get that next layer on already, you can help speed up the drying time by using a heat gun or hair dryer.

Optional: Apply one layer of white paint to the leather

If your leather is a dark color, then your lighter color paints might not show up so well against the darker background. An easy way to solve this is to apply a layer of white paint where you plan to use lighter colors--this will help them pop!

Go from dark to light colors.

When using different colors in a design we recommend starting with the darker colors first. It is easier to blend lighter colors into darker ones than the other way around.


Use wooden skewers for detail work.

If you don’t have a wide selection of paint brushes yet, you can also use wooden skewers to draw fine lines and add small details to your work.


Correct painting mistakes with a Q-tip.

For water-based leather paints like Creative Nation’s it is very easy to correct a painting mistake by simply wiping it with a wet Q-tip/cotton bud.


Slowly peel off the masking tape after painting.

The key here is to go slow. Ripping the masking tape too quickly might risk damaging your design.


Wash Up

Creative Nation leather paint is water-based, so clean-up is easy! If you’ve got any paint on your hands or workspace, you can clean up with soap and warm water.


Dry for 24 Hours

Now the only thing left to do is to wait for your masterpiece to air dry for 24 hours and you’ll be ready to wear your new custom kicks! Creative Nation leather paint is waterproof so feel free to show off your cool designs rain or shine. If you’re a beginner wanting to experiment with leather paint, try our Creative Nation Leather Paint 6-Pack to play around with basic colors. Once you’re ready to move on to more colorful designs, check out our 12-pack!

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