When painting fabric shoes, acrylic paints are the way to go, but the sheer number of options is staggering.
The last thing you want to do is use a cheap paint that will run all over the place, crack as soon as it dries, or fade quickly.
We’ll look at a variety of quality options for different design styles, but right off the bat, I’d say your best bet is to get these:
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As far as quality is concerned, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better for painting shoes.
Gorgeous colors. Durable, easy-to-apply paints. Great for fine details and filling large areas. Flexible when dry. Protective finish. Perfect.
- Top Pick for Fabric Shoe Paint
- Best Value
- Best Color Assortment
- Best Glow Paints
- Best 3D Paints
- Best Fabric Markers
- Best Sealant for Fabric Shoe Paint
- Things to Consider Before Purchasing
- Related Questions:
Top Pick for Fabric Shoe Paint
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Wait, leather paint for fabric shoes?
I know it sounds weird, but this 12-piece paint set is top of the line when it comes to acrylic paints, and it works extremely well on canvas shoes and other materials.
No cracking or peeling. No fading. Paint stays flexible. Colors blend beautifully, so you can easily create any color to fit your design.
For even better results, mix the paints with Angelus 2-Soft Fabric Medium at a 1:1 ratio to further improve flexibility and keep a soft feel to your shoes.
- Can be brushed, sponged, thinned, or even airbrushed.
- Comes in 12 colors (1 fluid ounce each) that blend well when mixed.
- Won’t crack, peel, or fade.
- Nice semi-gloss finish.
- Works on a variety of materials.
- A little goes a long way.
- Not waterproof – will require sealing.
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If you’re looking for superior quality, great color assortment, and a very reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with this 24-piece set by Mont Marte.
Whether you need to cover large areas or focus on fine details, this paint set will exceed your expectations.
The paints are bright and vivid; have a creamy, easy-to-spread consistency; and dry quickly to a semi-matte finish.
- Thin enough to be used straight out of the tube but can be used with additives as well.
- Colors blend easily.
- Convenient storage trays included.
- Each tube contains 36 milliliters (1.2 fluid ounces) of paint.
- Some users have found it dries too quickly, thus limiting work time.
Best Color Assortment
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If you want a huge variety of colors but aren’t too keen on mixing them yourself, this 60-piece is for you.
With convenient plastic tubes (0.74 fluid ounces each), squirting out just the right amount of paint is easy, which equates to less waste and more value.
These paints are ideal for creating texture, gradients, blends, details, and layers, and they won’t fade even in direct sunlight.
- Comes in a sturdy storage box.
- Large assortment of rich colors.
- Silky texture applies smoothly.
- Resists cracking and chipping.
- Dries faster than other acrylics leaving you less time to work.
- Actual color may be different than the package implies.
Best Glow Paints
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These glow-in-the-dark paints are just right for decorating shoes intended to be worn anywhere black lights or UV lights are present, such as glow-in-the-dark parties or Halloween events.
This 8-pack set comes in 20 milliliter bottles and can be applied with a brush, sponge, or even an airbrush.
Paint goes on smoothly and is great for covering large areas. Even after washing, the paint retains its glowing effects, though colors will “pop” best under black or UV lights.
- Sunlight can be used to initiate the glowing effect.
- Bright, vibrant colors.
- Easy to apply.
- May need to apply a second coat for deeper colors or desired effects.
- Colors may not appear vibrant under normal lighting conditions.
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These fluorescent paints are a little different in that they are dimensional or “puffy” paints.
They’re perfect for drawing designs, writing words, and creating dots or squiggles. However, they are not intended for filling in large areas.
The set of four colors – neon green, orange, pink, and yellow – comes in large (125 milliliter) squirt bottles, so no brush is necessary.
After the 72 hour cure time, painted shoes can be safely washed, and the paint remains flexible so that you don’t have to worry about cracks forming in the paint as you walk.
- A blow dryer can be used to speed cure time.
- Mistakes can be removed with soap and water before the paint sets.
- Flexible, permanent paint perfect for decorating shoes.
- Shows up well on dark shoes.
- Not ideal for covering large areas.
- Only four colors.
Best 3D Paints
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This “puffy” paint set comes with a whopping 40 colors, including classic, fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark, metallic, and glitter colors.
They’re specially designed to not crack, peel, or fade, and once completely dry, decorated shoes can be tossed in the washing machine if they get dirty.
This set comes with a couple of nice bonuses: three fun stencils and three paint brushes.
- Excellent variety.
- Convenient 1 fluid ounce squirt bottles.
- Can use the bottles to design or can be used with brushes for larger applications.
- Air bubbles in bottles may cause splattering if not shaken well prior to use.
- Color may fade slightly as paint dries.
Best Fabric Markers
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This Emooqi set is perfect for creating intricate designs with clear, crisp lines.
Complete with 24 vibrant colors and three bonus stencils, these markers allow you to create with ease practically any design you can imagine.
A particularly nice feature is the double tips on each marker. One side is a thin, pointed tip, perfect for detail work, writing, and outlining.
The other end has a broad, chiseled-shaped point ideal for filling in large sections, shading, and graffiti-style designs.
The paint itself is nontoxic, waterproof, and fade resistant. Best of all, the colors stay vibrant even after washing!
- Bright colors.
- Dual tips.
- Fade resistant.
- High quality at an affordable price.
- Markers may dry out quickly.
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This marker set is another excellent choice for canvas shoes. It comes with 30 bright colors, each featuring a fine tip on one end and an ultra-fine tip on the other.
Once completely dry, the paints hold up well when washed with very little discernible fading.
The paint is also weatherproof and fade resistant so you won’t need to worry too much about getting caught in a rainstorm with your painted shoes.
Like the Emooqi markers, this set is also made with nontoxic paints, so it’s ideal for children to use as well as adults.
- Large selection of colors.
- One fine tip and one ultra-fine tip.
- Resists fading even after washing.
- Smooth writing and drawing.
- Colors may not match the color on the cap.
- With some markers, each end may produce a different shade.
- May bleed on some fabrics.
Best Sealant for Fabric Shoe Paint
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However, the most recommended product by far is Angelus Acrylic Finisher.
A thin coat adds a protective finish that resists moisture, peeling, and cracking and adds a uniform appearance to the shoes.
- Dries to a flexible finish.
- Protects paint from scratches and scrapes.
- Available in matte, satin, normal, and high gloss.
- May take up to three days to fully dry – will be tacky till drying is complete.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing
The acrylic paints listed above are perfect for canvas shoes, like the classic Keds. For this shoe type, there really is no need for any prep work.
Just make sure the shoes are new or at least very clean before starting.
Tape off areas you don’t want painted, stuff the inside with newspaper so they’ll hold their shape, and you’re all set.
However, other shoe types will need more involved prep work. For example, leather shoes will need to be sanded and treated with a deglazer before painting.
Head over to my article “What Kind of Paint to Use on Shoes?” for a detailed look at popular options for different styles of shoes.
Your Design Plans
If you only want to draw geometric designs, outline shapes, write words, or create small designs, paint markers are the best choice. They’re also great for adding details to larger designs.
For covering large areas, acrylic paints in tubes or jars are definitely the way to go.
Grab a couple of high-quality synthetic brushes in a few different sizes, lightly trace your design with a pencil onto the shoes, and you’re ready to get started.
How Long Does Fabric Paint Take to Dry?
Most fabric paints will dry to the touch in a few hours but will need at least 24 hours to dry completely.
Some paints, such as dimensional paints, may take as long as 72 hours to fully cure. A blow dryer, fan, or sunlight can be used to speed drying time.
Not sure exactly what the difference is between fabric paints and regular acrylics? This article explains.
Is Fabric Paint Waterproof?
Some fabric paints, such as many of the fabric paint markers, are waterproof and machine washable once fully dry.
Other fabric paints are not waterproof and will require some form of sealant to protect your design.
Because acrylics are water based, still-wet paint can be easily cleaned up with soap and water.