How To Paint Leather Handbags

How To Paint Leather Handbags

August 5, 2023

Jane Smith, Managing Director

Painting leather handbags can be a fun and creative way to give them a new look or personalise it according to your style. This can be done to give a handbag this seasons new colours or to just freshen up the handbag, so it looks loved and cared for once again.


Here's a general guide on how to paint a black leather handbag:

Materials you'll need:

  1. Leather handbag (make sure they clean and free from dust and dirt)
  2. Leather cleaner (to clean the full leather handbag prior to painting)
  3. Leather paint (make sure it's suitable for your leather type)
  4. Leather prep / deglazer or alcohol cleaner (to remove some surface finish or coating)
  5. Fine-grit sandpaper (optional, for preparing the leather surface)
  6. Paintbrushes (sponge brushes or soft bristle brushes work well)
  7. Painter's tape (to mask off any parts you don't want to paint)
  8. Plastic sheet or newspaper (to protect your work surface)
  9. Cloth and sponge (for cleaning the leather and dabbing on the paint)
  10. Leather finisher or sealer (optional, for added protection)
  11. Leather Protection cream (provides a protective barrier after the sealer has been applied)

Step-by-step process:

  1. Cleaning:
    • Clean the leather handbag: Use a soft cloth or sponge dampened with leather cleaner to wipe down the handbag and remove any surface dirt or grime. Allow it to dry completely.
    • If the handbag has a glossy finish or any coatings, you'll need to remove them using leather prep / deglazer or alcohol cleaner.
  2. Surface preparation (optional):
    • If you want the paint to adhere better to the leather, you will need to deglaze the surface with the leather prep or alcohol cleaner, apply this directly to a cloth or bamboo pad and gently wipe over the surface until you can see colour coming off on the entire section you are going to colour again, you must have colour coming off or the new paint won’t bond to the old leather properly.  You can then lightly sand the surface using fine-grit sandpaper. Be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure, as you don't want to damage the leather grain, depending on your handbag type you either have a natural grain or an embossed leather grain.
  3. Tape off areas:
    • If you want to keep certain parts of the handbag unpainted (e.g., handles, metal hardware), use painter's tape to mask off those areas. We would suggest a low tack, heat resistant tape. 3M manufacture a good one, its model number is 3434.
    • Stitching work, these will require to be masked off also to avoid getting paint on them when you are painting.
  4. Test the paint:
    • Before applying the paint directly to your leather handbags, it's a good idea to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the bag. This way, you can check if you're satisfied with the colour and how the leather takes the paint. For the leather to be perfect you want to apply a small amount no bigger than a 10mm wide circle, apply the paint thinly, not a thick blob as this will give a different appearance to the paint applied to the handbag.
  5. Apply the paint:
    • The leather colourant paint can be applied with a sponge and brush in the fine areas and hard to reach sections. Depending on your painting skills, some find it easier to use a brush if you can without getting streaks on the surface, applying with a brush means you use far less paint and get a much better more realistic look to the leather bag.
    • Alternatively, you can dip your brush into the leather paint and apply a thin, even layer on the leather surface. Start with light strokes and gradually build up the colour as needed. It's better to apply multiple thin coats than one thick coat to avoid any lines, clumping or cracking. Some types of leathers work better with a brush than others, a heavier grain is more forgiving compared to a smoother grained leather, a smoother grained leather we would always advise applying the paint with a sponge or airbrush as it will gain a beautiful streak free finish this way.
    • Let each coat dry before applying the next one, you will also need to sand lightly with 1200 grit sandpaper between coats to remove any surface imperfections.  To get professional results allow 24 hours for each coat of paint to dry, you should only need to apply two coats depending on the colour being applied, more translucent colours will require more paint applied to build up the depth to the leather paint.
  6. Painting patterns and details:
    • If you wish to add any designs or details, wait until the base colour is dry. Then, use a smaller brush or a sponge to add those details with different colours. If you are good at art and have an airbrush that’s fine enough, you could airbrush some graffiti onto your handbag, why not become the Banksy of the leather world.
  7. Finishing touches:
    • Once you're satisfied with the colour and design, let the handbag dry completely. It’s always best to allow the new paint a good 24 hours to cure fully, if you can allow 48 hours that’s even better. 
  8. Sealing:
    • It’s always best to add added protection for your freshly painted leather handbag, you can apply a leather finisher or sealer following the product's instructions. There are four different sheen levels, matt, satin, gloss, patent high shine. The gloss, satin and matt clear coat sealers can be mixed together to gain any sheen level you wish so that it matches your leather handbags sheen perfectly, you can mix in a small amount of the patent high gloss finish, but not to the same quantities as you can the other 3 finishes.  This will help protect the paint from wear and tear and provide some level of water resistance.
  9. Curing time:
    • Allow the handbag to cure for a good 48 hours, once it’s cured fully for the 48 hours you would then apply some surface protection to protect the freshly painted handbag, you have several options available to you, from protection cream to leather protection sprays, leather juice to leather guard, there are many ways to protect your new looking leather handbag.


Remember, the process may vary depending on the type of leather paint and the specific leather handbag you have.

Always follow the instructions provided, if you are unsure of any process then seek help before proceeding, you can always email to get reassurance that what you’re doing is correct.  

Additionally, work in a well-ventilated area and take the necessary precautions to protect your surroundings from paint spills or splatters.


This video will help you to restore your leather handbags.



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