How To Paint Shoes Without Cracking? Get Your Job Done With 11 Tips

Do you prefer to add some unique designs to your shoes? It’s an excellent idea to paint them!

Showing your artwork through your sneakers is a terrific option if you’re an artist or a person who adores using brushes to express your creativity.

It’s more complicated than you imagine painting your footwear as you may cause the paint coat to crack if you don’t have specialized skills.

How to paint shoes without cracking? You must learn many things, from selecting the right paint to painting techniques to have a smooth finish.

It’s best to delve into this article to get helpful and detailed guides for this DIY project. Let’s scroll down!

What Paint Can You Use On Your Shoes?

Before you apply paint on your shoes, it’s best to determine which type works well on the material of the footwear.

Let’s keep reading to find the best-suited one to customize your sneakers.

The Importance Of Choosing The Right Paint

Different kinds of materials respond in different ways to paint adhesion. Before applying paint to your footwear, you research the suitable type to use on it.

If not, your personalized sneakers’ paint may run the risk of cracking, running, or not drying thoroughly.

Numerous paint choices are available to aid you in choosing the right paint for the material coating the shoes. Here are some recommendations:

  • Spray paint: leather/vinyl footwear
  • Acrylic paint: leather, canvas, or vinyl footwear
  • Fabric paint: canvas footwear

How To Paint Shoes Without Cracking? Get Your Job Done With 11 Tips

Common Types Of Paint Used On Shoes

You can see various paint options available for you to pick from when customizing your sneakers. Which will, however, be most effective?

An in-depth discussion of the various paint varieties will follow:

Spray Paint

If you’re unsure what to apply on your vinyl or leather footwear, spray paint is an excellent option.

It is also a fantastic choice if you prefer to give your personalized pair a scruffy streetwear aesthetic.

The drawback of spray paint is that it may be challenging to apply if you’ve never used it before.

In this situation, it’s advisable to use painter’s tapes to cover off any areas of the shoes that you do not want to be sprayed while applying each coat of paint.

Acrylic Paint

Among available materials, acrylic paint is perhaps the most versatile choice for painting footwear. It adheres effectively to canvas, leather, or even vinyl shoes.

This choice is strongly advised to paint leather shoes. In reality, several shoemakers utilize this paint to customize their leather products with designs.

Yet, it would be best to exercise caution to keep thinner acrylic layers. If the coat is excessively thick, it can crack once your leather footwear inevitably flexes.

Deglazing is another brilliant technique since it cleans the shoe of its waxy layer. It facilitates the adhesion of the paint to the leather.

But when painting canvas shoes with acrylic paint, you need to prime your sneakers first. The paint will attach more readily and won’t crack if you do this.

Keep the coats thin and wait until each one has soaked into the canvas, like when painting a pair of leather footwear.

Apply a sealer to the footwear after painting it to make it waterproof and stop the acrylic from running.

You’ll need to clean the surface with polish thinner for vinyl footwear to eliminate any grit, dust, or other residues.

Then, paint your footwear with thin coats until you get the desired design and hue.

Once the shoes with acrylics have dried, cover them with a plastic sealer to help avoid cracks and create a beautiful, polished look.

The most cost-effective option is to purchase acrylic paint if you intend to paint several pairs of various materials.

Fabric Paint

Are you unsure about the best paint for use, specifically on canvas footwear? The most fantastic option is fabric paint, besides acrylic.

Fabric paint can make it simple for you to accomplish your goals, whether you need to modify the color of a pair or add designs entirely.

Additionally, you can use fabric paint pens to make elaborate patterns.

They are also beneficial if you are worried about inadvertently painting your shoe in different areas.

Leather Paint

Like many other spray paints, leather paint may be an excellent option for coating vinyl or leather shoes.

However, you can have greater control over the application because you can use brushes and sponges rather than an aerosol spray when you apply the paint.

Additionally, this type has minimal chance of creating streaks on the shoes. Furthermore, properly applied, leather paint won’t peel off, split, or fade.

Considerations When Selecting Paint

After learning which paints to put on shoes, let’s check some vital considerations while customizing!

Drying Time

The drying time will vary depending on the specific type of paint you select. Before using a sealer or finisher on your shoes, let them dry for 24 hours to avoid hazards.

If you are unsure whether it dries thoroughly, touch a part of the design to check the wetness of the paint. If it’s wet, allow it an extra couple of hours.

Refrain from blow-drying your paint! Heat can reduce the material’s adhesion and cause subsequent cracking.


It would be best to utilize a finisher made for your shoe material or the paint type you applied to create your personalized pair with a good, completed look.

For example, if you use acrylic, it’s best to coat your footwear with the acrylic finisher.

If you paint leather footwear, you can apply this pair with a gloss finisher to create a glossy finish.

Moreover, you can apply a sealant coat to make your pair waterproof. Ensure you select the suitable type for the specific paint option and the shoe material.

This way, you will protect your customized designs from the weather while extending the shoe’s longevity.

How To Paint Shoes Without Cracking?

Wait no longer! Below are the most easy-to-follow tricks to apply a painting coat on your footwear without cracking. Let’s see!

Prepare Carefully Before Painting

Paint attaches to footwear differently when there is tiny dust and dirt present. A quick clean-up has a significant impact!

Be careful to clean your pair using the appropriate techniques. Look through these tips!

Canvas, Fabric, and Cloth Shoes:

It’s advisable to clean these shoes using warm soapy water and a soft rag. Ensure not to soak them. Allow enough time for them to dry thoroughly before using paint.

Vinyl Shoes:

You can use lacquer and a soft clean cloth to clean these shoes. The process is so simple and quick!

Leather Shoes:

For this type of footwear, rubbing it using rubbing alcohol is better. Use this solution with a rag and gently brush away dust and particles.

Use High-Quality Paint

You will get what you pay for. While high-quality paint is much more expensive than a low-priced product, it will create the best result.

Moreover, luxurious paints will provide a better finish and an accurate color effect with less cracking risk.

Use Flexible Primer

Before painting, coat the surface with a flexible primer. It will improve the paint’s adhesion and keep it from breaking and cracking.

Flexible primers come in a wide variety of varieties, so ensure to shop around and select one that works with your footwear.

Before moving to the following step, use a roller or brush to coat the primer and let it dry completely.

Keep the spray around 12 inches from the footwear when applying the primer, and spread the light, even layers.

Apply Thin Layers

Giving it a decent foundation involves ensuring its effects. The most crucial step—and the one that receives the least attention—is applying the paint.

It is not sufficient to load a large amount of paint onto the brush or slap it carelessly over the shoes. It would be best if you didn’t rush in this step.

Instead of applying many layers in the same spot, take a small amount of paint and spread it softly with one stroke all through the desired area.

Ensure the first layer dries completely before applying the second one. Never rush using layers atop since doing so will result in the paint cracking once it settles.

Applying one coat, allowing it to set, and then adding another. It seems like it may take a while. But no worries, it’s not always the case!

If you use acrylic paint, the drying time doesn’t require much. Thus, you should apply each layer with care.

Consider The Angles

You should know the causes of cracks. They often appear in bent areas of your footwear. However, you may not care about these locations.

As a result, cracks will show up after the painting layers dry because you don’t apply paint in a bending direction.

The paint starts to crack as a result of this directional inconsistency. Spread painting in the flexing direction if you wish to prevent it.

Determine the bending direction of your shoe material to apply strokes synchronously with the flexes.

Use A Paint Brand

If you plan to customize your designs with various colors, it’s best to stick to one single brand of paint.

Artists believe that mixing several paints of various brands is not an excellent idea.

Before you start painting, prepare enough paints for your shoes. If they run out, you may not get the same color as the one you selected before.

Avoid Heating

Avoid having painted footwear come into contact with heat directly, as it is among the leading causes of cracking. It’s terrible to utilize heat if you’re trying to dry anything rapidly.

Another problem that might develop even when you stick by the recommendations to avoid applying heat is drying your footwear and still seeing the crack.

Even after you painted your shoes a few days ago, this issue might arise if you leave them in direct sunlight.

Alternatively, if your footwear gets wet during some exercise, you may want to dry the paint with your hairdryer.

Avoid doing all these actions, and allow your footwear to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.

To assist in moving the air about and stop the paints from setting too rapidly, you might also use a fan.

Apply Sealant

Use a sealer to deal with paints once you finish painting the footwear.

It will prevent your footwear from cracking. The application of sealant should not be rushed, as this is a lengthy stage.

Below are some tips for applying sealant:

  • Locate the specific location on the footwear where you prefer to utilize the sealant.
  • You must apply sealant sparingly within tiny amounts.
  • Spray the sealant in two rapid bursts, then go to the next area.
  • Don’t spread the spray evenly throughout the area.
  • Instead of filling one area with one complete sealant spray, take your time and apply the spray in small bursts to different locations. Step by step is best.

The paint sealer will stop paint from cracking and give your shoes a polished appearance.

Additionally, you might spray your sneaker with waterproofing agents after using the sealer.

Dry The Paint Completely

Although it might seem obvious, it’s vital to wait until the paint is dry before putting your shoes on.

You may make it crack if you purposely run or walk in your footwear before the coat of paint hasn’t dried.

For this reason, it’s best to wait 24 hours or more to let your shoes dry thoroughly.

Wear The Shoes With Care

When the paint has dried, you may wear your shoes. Nevertheless, ensure to use them with care to avoid potential cracks.

Avoid stepping on uneven or puddled surfaces. Also, be cautious not to damage the finish of your sneakers by scuffing or scratching them.

The paint on your footwear will last a few months if you maintain them properly.

Store The Shoes Properly

After you have finished your DIY painting project, ensure you store your shoes properly.

Don’t place them under direct sunlight and in humid locations, as these conditions may cause the paint to crack or fade.

Instead, find a clean, cool, and dry environment to store this pair until the paint dries completely.

What To Consider When Painting Shoes?

Before customizing your shoes, it’s best to consider the following considerations!

When To Paint Your Shoes

You can paint your leather footwear to cover up the blemishes. Paints are helpful since you can precisely duplicate the leather’s hue.

Painting footwear is usually a good idea to restore its original appearance and conceal scratches and scuffs.

Many sneaker artists utilize paint to customize their footwear since they desire a hue that the maker won’t offer.

Always Prep Your Shoes

It’s best to prepare the shoes. If your footwear has laces, remember to remove them to make it easy to reach all crannies while cleaning.

Clean your sneakers carefully and remove all dust and particles before applying paint for better adhesion.

You can watch this video to avoid common mistakes:

How Long Does Paint Last On Shoes?

The longevity of paint will vary greatly depending on the paints you apply. Also, many factors affect its lifespan.


The paint used on your shoes may have an average lifespan of around five years.

  • Spray paint: 2 to 5 years
  • Acrylic paint: 5 to 7 years
  • Fabric paint: up to 5 years
  • Leather paint: 1 to 5 years

Factors Affecting Paint Quality

These types of paints won’t quickly fade. However, some external factors may affect their integrity.

The following elements might significantly affect how long the paints will persist on your shoes.

Extreme Heat:

Your summer sneakers will still have the paint pattern on them. Nevertheless, extreme heat, such as that from a dryer, makes the painting coat crack.

Never blow dry your footwear after painting it to hasten the drying process.


Paints don’t get along well with the water. Although some of them may be water-resistant, others will be water-soluble.

Foot Flex:

You don’t know how much your feet flex, and your shoes follow suit. Paint may peel and fracture due to the natural bending of your shoes.


You can prolong their lifespan if you store your shoes properly and care for them correctly.

Maintenance Tips

You must be careful when wearing your customized sneakers and pay extra effort to avoid damaging them.

Here are some guidelines to maintain and care for these shoes!

  • Don’t wash your painted shoes, as this action will cause cracking on shoes or chipping.
  • Never place your sneakers under direct sunlight for too long, as it will cause your footwear to crack and look saturated.
  • Don’t store your footwear in moist or humid places. Instead, keep it in clean, dry locations without high humidity.
  • Avoid wearing these sneakers outside when it rains.
  • Don’t use your shoes for strenuous physical activities for a long time.

If you plan to clean your painted shoes, consider these tips:

  • Depending on the materials of your shoes and how unclean they are, you’ll pick a different cleaning method.
  • There are several products for various cleaning levels.
  • Ensure that the cleaning solutions are safe for the footwear material.
  • Before beginning the deep cleaning, use a cloth that is just slightly moist to remove any extra dirt.

The following list includes some well-liked cleaning solutions for painted shoes:

  • Foaming cleanser: It is most likely the most effective approach to remove all dust and dirt without harming your shoe.
  • Water detergent mix: Use a high-quality detergent in its place if you cannot find a foaming cleaning product.
  • Water baking soda mix: Make water and baking soda paste to use on the stains. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, use a brush to scrub your footwear, and use a cloth to wipe off.
  • Angelus easy cleaning solution: Since it cleans practically any type of material, it is the best choice if you require a thorough cleaning.
  • All-purpose foam cleaning solution: This product can remove all old and accumulated dirt.

In A Nutshell

After reading this article, have you known how to paint shoes without cracking?

Hopefully, these guides are helpful for your DIY project. It’s a good idea to paint your footwear since it gives it a unique and attractive appearance.

Most importantly, remember to select the most suitable type of paint to apply to the material of your shoes.

Follow the guidelines above, and you will successfully have a nice pair without any cracks. Thanks for reading!


Leave a Comment Protection Status