How to Paint Leather Furniture

Updated: Sep. 13, 2023

Transform an old piece of leather furniture into a modern showstopper with easy to use leather paint. We'll show you the best paint for leather to use and how to paint leather furniture.


A full day






There are paints made specifically for painting leather furniture. In this project, we used paint, prep and finisher made by Angelus. They're available online and at some home/hobby stores. In addition to furniture, you can paint leather shoes, jackets, belts and bags in much the same way.

Project step-by-step (9)

Step 1

Gather your materials

To transform this old espresso brown leather dining bench into a modern grey, we used a paint specifically made for leather, Angelus Brand Leather Paint, and the brand’s prep and finisher. Any leather paint at your local craft store should work.

Step 2

Clean and prep

The first step is to prep the area by wiping the leather clean with a damp cloth and laying a drop cloth down to protect your floors. Depending on your furniture piece, you might want to disassemble the furniture to separate leather parts or protect non-painted areas with painter’s tape.

Step 3

Help the paint adhere

Applying a leather paint prep and deglazer to help the paint adhere to the surface is especially important if the leather piece you are working with has a glossy or vinyl sealant. This step is not recommended for suede.

Step 4

Wipe On

Rub the deglazer generously across the leather surface with a rag. This will dry quickly. This process of cleaning took a little of the color off of the piece. As the point of this project is to change the color of the leather, we didn’t find it an issue.

Step 5

Apply the first coat

Next, apply the acrylic leather paint. Angelus Brand offers more than 30 shades. We chose “Grey Taupe” for this project. They also sell small 1 oz. bottles if you’d like to test a few colors before applying (similar to testing paint swatches). White and black leather paint are also popular choices. The manufacturer suggests applying the leather paint with a household sponge or sponge brush.

Step 6

A little goes a long way

Apply paint to the surface in multiple, thin coats with a sponge. It will go on a lot like liquid shoe polish, and should coat really easily. A little goes a long way, but keep in mind that consistency is thinner than house or craft paint— be prepared for runs and drips, and try to keep the surface level.

Don’t skip the details

Depending on your furniture style, you may need a small detail paint brush to fully cover seams and crevices. If a more rustic, weathered look is desired, you might want to skip this step (like we did).

Step 7

Two hours between coats

Apply the paint in multiple, thin coats, allowing time to try between (1-2 hours). Depending on the degree of color change and your desired look, you can cater the number of layers to your preference. Because the bench started so dark, we needed three coats for full coverage. Once your desired color is achieved, allow ample time to dry. We waited 6 hours to be safe.

Step 8

Apply your sealant

Lastly, apply the sealant, Angelus Matte Acrylic Finisher, over the whole piece. Angelus offers finishers from Matte to Gloss, so you can customize your look. We chose matte for a more natural leather look.

Angelus Brand Acrylic Leather Paint Finishervia merchant

Step 9

Apply then wait

Apply in thin strokes with a foam paint brush until the entire area is covered, making sure to seal all seams. Don’t panic if the finisher has a glossy blue hue when applied, mine disappeared when dried. Allow a full day for the finisher coat to dry before using.

woman cleaning black leather sofaCunaplus_M.Faba/Getty Images


Can I paint faux leather furniture?

Yes, you can paint faux leather furniture to give it a fresh look and update its appearance. However, it’s important to follow the right steps for a successful outcome. Start by cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, or oils. Then, lightly sand the faux leather to create a better surface for the paint to adhere to. Use a high-quality primer designed for use on flexible surfaces like faux leather. Once the primer is dry, apply acrylic paint in thin, even coats, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next. Finish with a clear, flexible topcoat to protect the paint and create a durable finish. With proper preparation and the right materials, you can transform your faux leather furniture into a customized piece that complements your decor.

Can you use chalk paint on leather furniture?

Using chalk paint on leather furniture can be a creative way to transform its look, but like any other type of paint, it comes with some considerations. Chalk paint is known for its matte finish and adhesion properties, making it suitable for various surfaces, including fabric and leather. However, leather is a unique material, and painting it with chalk paint may alter its texture and feel. Before proceeding, it’s essential to clean and prep the leather thoroughly to ensure proper paint adhesion. Keep in mind that the paint might soak into the leather, creating a different finish than what you’d achieve on wood or other surfaces. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use a clear wax or finisher to protect the paint and help it withstand wear and tear. While chalk paint can be used on leather, be prepared for a potentially distressed and unique look, and consider doing a small test area first to see if you like the results.