How to Paint Tennis Shoes: Step-by-Step Tutorial

A tennis players’ most prized possessions are usually his/her shoes. Without them, the outfit is incomplete and just doesn’t feel right. However, what is there to do when you are left with old, useless shoes that don’t even look good anymore? 

Well, while one option is to simply just throw it out in the trash, the other option falls along the lines of giving your tennis shoes a quick and easy makeover. 

We know, giving your shoes a makeover can be a hassle, especially if you are a newbie and have zero idea whatsoever about what to do, what paints to use and how to even get started. But we don’t want you to worry about that for too long!

In this article of ours, we are going to teach you exactly how to paint tennis shoes by following a few simple and easy steps only.

Check the Material of the Shoes

First and foremost, you will want to check the material of fabric the shoes come constructed with. This is because you will only want to use paint that is completely compatible with your shoes, or else you might risk them into more external damage by using the wrong paint type. 

If you are painting over leather tennis shoes, make sure to use spray paint that is ideal for such a material only. 

However, if you are not going to be using spray paint, your best bet here will be to make use of acrylic paint. You can usually find countless high-quality acrylic paints in local hardware shops that are ideal for painting footwear and outfits.

Choose the Right Type of Paint 

As mentioned above, you will want to use the kind of paint that is compatible and ideal for the material of your shoes. In general, if you have leather or vinyl tennis shoes, it is wiser idea to go for acrylic or spray paints to start off the base. 

On the other hand, if you have canvas shoes that are made of cloth, you can easily go for much cheaper fabric paint to get things done. Fabric paint is also a kind of acrylic paint, so you do not have to worry about the quality being crappy here. 

Draw an Outline 

Before you get going with your painting on the shoes, remember to draw out a light outline with a pencil on the body of the pair first, so that you can paint inside those lines only. This is recommended more if you want to create patterns and different designs on your shoes instead of painting in one solid shade. 

How to Paint Tennis Shoes

Let us now start discussing the few steps you need to attempt on to roll out a perfectly painted pair of tennis shoes. 

Step 1: Cover Your Hands

The most important thing you have to do is simply cover your hands by wearing a glove first. Paints such as acrylic paint and spray paints can stick to your fingers for a really long time, and take a lot of effort to be removed completely.

Save yourself from all that worrying and hassles later by wearing latex or plastic gloves on your hands first. 

Step 2: Sand the Shoes 

Next, you will want to get a sandpaper of medium grit to sand down the surface of the shoes that you want to start painting on. This is a very important step as not sanding the shoes prior to painting could result in no paint sticking to the shoes at all! 

However, by sanding the shoes beforehand, you will be taking off the base coat of the previous colors and dyes prevalent on the shoes, therefore all kinds of new paint will be able to stay on for longer as well. 

Step 3: Use Tape 

You will want to tape off the parts you do not want to use paint on beforehand, as that will limit the mess and hassles of cleaning everything up later. For this, you can use tape to cover the soles and the upper if you only want to be painting the overall body of the pair. 

Remember to also take out the laces before you start painting, so that they do not get stained unnecessarily either. However, you are free to paint them in the same shade as the shoes as well if you want. 

Step 4: Start Painting 

As a general rule of thumb, you should always paint fabric or literally any kind of item or object on sunny days. Try not to paint anything on cloudy days as the paint can take a really long time to dry out under gloomy weather conditions. 

Start off by applying a white coat as the base coat for the shoes, as any other color will have it easier to stay on a plain, white base. 

When painting, you will want to start in small and short motions and strokes. Try not to lather the shoes with a heavy base coat from the get-go, as that will leave little chances for you for corrections. 

The key is to go in with short strokes, and with light colors, as light colors will allow you to decide if you want to go brighter or more towards the neutral shades later. 

Step 5: Use Markers

To reach any areas where you think the brush didn’t do a good job, or to create detailed lines and circles, go in with a paint marker only after the shoes have completely dried out. 

You can find plenty of markers with various tip sizes, ranging from very thick tips to even ultra-thin ones for fine lines and details. 


We are sure that by now you have a clear understanding of how to paint tennis shoes at home, given that we mentioned every step clearly and in detail. We hope you have fun while painting your favorite pair of tennis shoes!

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