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How To Prevent Acrylic Paint From Cracking on Shoes?

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You may have just painted your shoes not so long ago, and you have seen them starting to crack before your very eyes.

Perhaps you are just starting your shoe painting process and want to make sure that you get it right.

Either way, preventing cracks is priority after you spend so much effort on getting your shoes just right.

How do you prevent acrylic paint from cracking on shoes? Make sure your shoes are clean and dry before you start painting them. Then use good quality acrylic shoe paint and paint your shoes using thin, multiple layers. Paint in the natural direction that the shoe flexes. Once the paint is dry, apply a sealant.

What are some common shoe painting mistakes that you should avoid? How can you keep the paint on your shoes from peeling? 

You’ll find the answers to all these questions and more in this article.

Steps for Preventing Cracking Paint on Shoes

Many people nowadays start to paint their own shoes as this gives them the ability to have fun and create their own designs and make their shoes unique to them.

However, it can be a bit challenging to get it right and ensure that both the paint and the shoes last a long time.

Certain conditions can cause the acrylic paint on your shoes to crack, but in these cases, prevention is key.

You need to take your time and not rush the process so as to allow the paint to last longer on your shoes. 

For this reason, it is extremely important that you use the right paint to paint your shoes; you need to get paint that is specifically designed for shoes.

You also need to prep your shoes correctly (read more on prepping here) before you paint them to make sure that the paint can adhere to the material of the shoes properly.

Let’s look at the steps you need to go through to ensure the paint on your shoes can last as long as it is supposed to.

Properly Prepare Your Shoes

As stated above, you need to prepare your shoes properly before you start painting them.

No matter the material that your shoes are made from, you need to make sure that they are clean before you start to paint them with acrylic paint. 

Give your shoes a good and thorough cleaning and allow them to dry completely before you move forward with your painting.

Use Quality Shoe Paint

If you want to help prevent acrylic paint from cracking on your shoes, you need to ensure that you use good quality acrylic shoe paint.

Check out my article here for the best acrylic paints for shoe painting.

It is important that you use the same brand of paint throughout your shoe painting.

If you mix brands, then the paint will have a higher chance of cracking as every paint manufacturer has a different recipe that they use to make their paint.

Because of this, not all of the paints are able to mix together nicely.

Apply The Paint In Thin Layers

You may feel inclined to use thick layers of paint on your shoes to try and prevent the paint from cracking, but the opposite is true.

You need to paint thin layers of acrylic paint onto your shoes, and it is best to paint in multiple layers.

You will only need to paint two to three thin layers of the paint onto your shoes to help prevent the paint from cracking.

You should paint one layer first, and then let it dry before you apply the next layer. 

Pay Attention to the Areas That Will Move on Your Shoes

You need to remember that the toe cap of your shoes is the area that moves the most while you walk.

This is the main area where the acrylic shoe paint will crack as the shoe flexes the most in this area.

You should paint this section of your shoes carefully, ensuring that you paint in the natural direction that the shoe flexes to help reduce the potential for cracking.

Apply a Sealant

Once the acrylic paint has dried and you are happy with the color saturation and the final results, you should apply an acrylic sealant.

This is an important step as the sealant will help to protect the paint and keep your painted shoes looking good for a longer period of time.

You need to make sure that you give the acrylic sealant enough time to dry completely before you wear your shoes.

Skip this step and the sealant will not do its job, and it could be wiped off as you are walking.

For this step, Angelus Acrylic Finisher is a fantastic choice as it remains flexible even when fully dried.

This flexibility is what you want rather than a stiff finish that cracks with any movement.

As an alternative, you could use a product such as Mod Podge or even ScotchGard Water Seal.

Both of these products will effectively seal your shoes and protect them from the elements and are great options, especially if you happen to have some on hand.

Angelus Brand Acrylic Leather Paint Finisher compatible with Wool, No. 600-4oz
  • A simple product to seal in your leather artwork
  • Provides a semi to high gloss top finish to smooth leather
Mod Podge CS11203 Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish, 32 Oz, Gloss
  • CONVENIENT & VERSATILE SIZE – Add this multi-purpose, all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish...
  • STUNNING, DURABLE FINISH – This handy decoupage glue comes in a beautiful clear...
Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield, 10.5-Ounce
  • One coat coverage
  • Maintains fabric breathability

How To Keep Paint From Peeling Off Shoes

Paint peeling from your shoes can be annoying as well as making your shoes look bad.

There are, however, some ways that you can help prevent this from happening. 

One of the best ways to stop your shoes from peeling is to keep your shoes out of direct sunlight and far away from any heat sources when you are not wearing them.

Heat and sunlight penetrate the paint and begin to degrade it, which can lead to the paint peeling off of your shoes faster.

If your shoes somehow get wet, do not place them by a heater or near any heat source to dry as this can damage the paint, and it will begin to peel.

Instead, place your shoes in an area that has good airflow and is not in direct sunlight.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

There are a few common mistakes that most people make when they are painting their shoes with acrylic paint.

Let’s go through them so you know what to avoid.

  • Don’t use heat to speed drying time. Ensure that you have enough time to paint the shoes and let the paint dry in its own time. Heat can actually make the paint more prone to cracking.
  • Never mix brands of paint while painting your shoes, as this could make the paint crack faster as the two paints cannot mix together.
  • Always make sure your shoes are completely dry before you start painting them. If your shoes are still damp, this will dilute the paint, and you will need to apply more layers of paint to get your desired results.
  • Be sure that you have the right paint for the material of your shoes. This can help the paint penetrate into the material better and help avoid cracking.
  • Never try and skimp out on the quality of your acrylic shoe paint, as cheaper paints will not have the flexibility to move with the shoe, leading to cracking a lot faster than with quality paints.

Related Questions:

Do Painted Shoes Need Sealant?

When you are painting your shoes yourself, it is always a good idea to use sealant once the shoes have dried completely.
Using the sealant on your shoes will protect the paint from outside factors such as sunlight and heat, help prevent cracking, and ensure that your shoes look great for a long time. 

What’s the Best Way To Weatherproof Painted Shoes

One of the best ways to protect your shoes from the weather is to spray your shoes with a waterproofing spray, like ScotchGard, once the sealant has dried.
This will protect your shoes from the weather as well as from any dirt that you might step in and will help your custom paint job last longer.


Acrylic paint cracking on your shoes can be rather annoying and can also make your shoes look older than what they actually are.

Thankfully, there are easy steps that you can follow to help prevent unsightly cracks on your freshly painted shoes.

These steps are easy to implement, and although it can take some time to get it right, if you do not rush the process, your shoes will look better than ever!



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