DIY: HOW TO PAINT LEATHER + VINYL WITH STUNNING RESULTS

by Michel Van Devender

LEATHER + VINYL BEGGING FOR CHANGE

Do you know the leather chair, sofa or pair of shoes you have, perhaps you’ve had them forever, that you want to toss because you’re no longer loving the color? Maybe you’ve just grown tired of it and want something different. Or it’s that second hand item you see at Goodwill or a vintage find at a local thrift store. It’s great, you love the shape and scale, but for whatever reason, you imagine it in a different color. Well friend, I’ve got some good news for you – You CAN paint leather, pleather and vinyl! And, with the right products and a little time, it’s super easy, inexpensive and looks fantastic.

MY WHY TO DIY

I so do not consider myself a big DIYer, although I do love doing things with my hands and some of the DIY kinds of projects. A creative process with a visually rewarding transformation is totally my jam. I also do love giving something old with a history and a story new life, a second, third or fourth act. Reusing what I have and saving money are added bonuses.

When we moved into our new house ten months ago, we moved many of the pieces of furniture from our old house we thought might work. We sold many other items we knew wouldn’t fit. With the pandemic and having everyone home, I really did not spend the time I would’ve liked designing and space planning for my own house so we ended up bringing over more than maybe we should have. And where that’s left me right now, is an entirely different story I could devote to another blog post. Big picture as I digress, it’s really all good. I’m sure I’ll be circling back around to revisit.

One of the pieces of furniture I thought might work, but not in the orange it was is this vintage Italian cane and vinyl settee. I purchased it many years ago at Classic Attic, a consignment shop in Charlotte. It had traveled to two other homes with us, a beloved anchor piece in several vignettes. I had loved it in all of our other houses, but wasn’t seeing the orange so much in our new house. It was definitely a case of different house, different vibe, moving on to something different. So I googled away in search of products for painting leather and vinyl. Black seemed like a good color :). 

THE PRODUCTS + HOW TO

What I found and purchased on Amazon was three products by Angelus – Professional Leather Preparer and Deglazer, 2-Soft Fabric Medium and Acrylic Leather Paint. The products were roughly $27.00. It’s basically an easy two step process, three if you count sanding, that took a couple of hours total from start to finish. 

Easy Steps I Followed –

1)  Lightly sand leather or vinyl. This doesn’t have to be a long, heavy duty sanding as you’re just trying to rough up the finish enough so the paint will adhere well to the leather or vinyl surface.

2)  With a soft cloth, apply Professional Leather Preparer and Deglazer to the leather or vinyl. I know it says leather, but it worked on my vinyl. Proceed at your own risk though as it may not work in the same way for you as it did for me. Maybe test a small sample before going all out, like I did. Per the bottle instructions, apply in a circular motion on entire leather or vinyl surface to remove the factory finish. Wipe excess with a clean cloth and allow to dry for several minutes.

3)  Mix Angelus 2 – Soft Fabric Medium with Angelus Acrylic Leather Paint. The label says 1:1 ratio, but I actually did a little less than that. The Soft Fabric Medium keeps the paint from cracking. Even using less, I’ve had absolutely no cracking. However, our bench doesn’t get a lot of use so would highly recommend the 1:1 ration of this solution if you’ll be using the leather or vinyl furniture daily. Paint your entire surface with a brush, more than one coat may be needed. Once the painting is finished, allow to dry completely before using.

THE END RESULT

And Viola, I’m super happy with the new color and finish! I know the orange was great, especially in our previous house with the art and graphic painted wall, but it was for a different time, house and aesthetic. For me, the black seems richer and more sophisticated, elevating the piece. I have a friend who saw the settee and could not believe the vinyl had been painted so the finish looks original, not a brushstroke in sight. I’m not sure its permanent home will be under the stairs, although it’s sitting pretty there today. 

Such an impactful and inexpensive transformation, giving this settee another run in another house, for now at least! What leather or vinyl piece can I paint next? What do you have that you may want to paint? I may try a pair of shoes or a handbag, but really, the possibilities are endless! Please reach out in the comments with any questions. And, go get your DIY on with this easy project!

🖤💙,

 

Photo Credit - Brie Williams

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2 comments

Sam January 11, 2022 - 12:49 am

That is awesome. Looks so good in black. What a cool project. Thank you for sharing.

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Michel Van Devender January 31, 2022 - 5:54 pm

Thank you so much for the comment and compliment :)! I was a little nervous getting started, but super happy with the way it turned out. You honestly cannot tell it’s painted. 🖤💙

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