Mistakes to Avoid when Spray Painting Shoes (DIY Fail!)

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I wish i had researched on how to spray paint shoes before i went on to spray paint my Dr. Martens shoes. Spoiler Alert: It was a peeling nightmare and DIY fail waiting to happen. So i made this post to share with you what you should NOT do when spray painting shoes so that you don’t end up with a DIY fail like i did.

It all started with an obsession with DIY and spray painting galaxies. I tried it on canvas and it looked fine, so why not on shoes, amirite? WRONG!

This was what went down.

I watched this Youtube tutorial on spray painting galaxy on canvas and I was majorly inspired. And so, I tried it out for myself. Bear in mind that I have never spray painted in my life before this. This was back in 2012.

Here are some of my noob pieces:

Spray Paint Galaxy

I was pretty proud of it for my first attempt and I had a Eureka! moment, albeit a questionable one. I thought ‘Why not spray paint a galaxy on an old Dr Martens shoes that I had lying around?’ I don’t use it anymore, so it would make for a good experiment.

I actually posted a tutorial on this on CutOutandKeep and I can’t believe I was showing people HOW to do it. Look at my ‘instructions’:

“Practice your galaxy on canvas until you’re quite satisfied with it and try it on the shoes! Its basically the same steps but you just have to place your shoe in such a way its as horizontal as it can be to mimic the canvas.
Takes more time too as you have to wait for the spray paint to dry before you flip the other side.
Did something wrong? No worries, just spray over that spot and do over! The wonders of spray paint!”


Spongebob Meme



I regret everything. Such a DIY fail. Also i had a potato camera phone back then, hence the super pixelated pictures. And that is one ugly ass sun and moon, can you even call it that?

It might look pretty decent in these pictures. BUT 1 week after I painted it, it began to dull and the paint started to PEEL. I already sprayed a sealant on it, mind you. I didn’t take pictures of it unfortunately because I immediately chucked in the trash. I have a habit of looking at my failed DIY creations in horror and throwing them out so that it will be out of my sight.

Here are all the mistakes I made that you should AVOID when spray painting shoes. You don’t want to end with a peeling spray painted shoes like i did.

  1. I did not check the condition of my Dr Martens shoes

    The texture of my shoes was already pretty wrinkled originally. There were small bumps and tears here and there. My genius brain thought that the spray paint could cover all the flaws!

  2. I did not even prime or prep my shoes and jumped right into painting it!

  3. What I should have done:

    Strip off the original coating on the shoe using acetone to help the paint adhere to the shoes. You can do this by soaking cotton balls in acetone and rub the coating off the shoes.

    If the flaws are still prominent after that, i shouldn’t even consider painting it! Just chuck it aside, it’s not worth the effort.

  4. I did not think that the material of the shoes mattered when it comes to spray painting shoes.

    I’m such a genius that i didn’t realise different materials are going to need different types of paint and painting processes.

    My Dr Martens shoes are made of PU leather i suppose and they have specific paints for it!

  5. What I should have done:

    I should have wiped it with acetone first to remove the glossy finish (same step as above) or use Angelus Leather Preparer & Deglazer

    Invest in a good quality fabric/vinyl spray paint. I highly recommend Rust-Oleum and Dupli-color spray paint for this. These paints are meant to hold up super well especially when you will be using the shoes out and about.

  6. Remember to seal the paint at the end with any outdoor sealant. My favourite sealant is Krylon Crystal Clear Spray Sealant.

  7. What if you made a mistake? DON’T spray paint over the spot over and over again. Easily remove it with acetone!

This failure gave me a wake-up call. You can’t paint shoes without understanding its condition, texture and material! 

I certainly learnt alot from this DIY fail about spray painting shoes and i’m happy to say that i have not experienced any other spray painting fails after this! I’m super proud about my recent DIY project where I spray painted my ceiling and it looked AMAZING. Also, I went to do ALOT of research on techniques for painting shoes and came up with the top 3 techniques for painting a galaxy on shoes that actually looks LEGIT. Nothing is worse than a galaxy that looks amateur-ish.

Have you guys had any DIY fails where you can’t even look at them out of horror and embarrassment? What are some tips and lessons that you learnt from your own DIY mistakes? I would love to hear all about it!


Mistakes to avoid when spray painting shoes

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