How to Dye Black Leather to Silver


You can recolor black leather to silver with a spray dye. While the manufacturers call them dyes, these are actually acrylic-based spray paint. For the best finish, use an interim light gray dye as a base coat with the silver paint as a finish coat. The process is much the same for any leather item, be it a jacket, handbag or shoes.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking or carpenter's tape
  • Newspaper
  • Shoe trees (optional)
  • Broomstick (optional)
  • Surface preparer
  • Gray primer, suitable for plastic (optional)
  • Gray leather dye
  • Silver spray paint (optional)
  • Tape off any surface that you do not wish to paint (like metal hardware on a handbag). If the item is a pair of shoes with rubber or synthetic heels and soles, then tape off the sides of the heels and soles.

  • Stuff the leather item to remove any creases and to ensure that the dye reaches every corner. For shoes, first put in the shoe trees, then pack around the tree with crumpled newspaper.

  • Prepare the surface with a quality leather-preparing product (like Meltonian's Nu-Life Color Preparer or Fiebing's deglazer). These use volatile organic chemicals like toluene and benzene to remove surface waxes and dirt, and act as a thinner to prepare the surface to accept dye.

  • Spray the item lightly with gray leather dye. (Some of the black color should still show through.)

  • Allow to dry per manufacturer's instructions (typically 15 to 20 minutes).

  • Apply another light coat of gray leather dye. Allow to dry.

  • Spray the item lightly with silver dye, and allow to dry. Repeat up to three times.

  • Allow the paint to cure thoroughly, overnight.

Tips & Warnings

  • To dye a jacket, hang the jacket on a heavy hanger and push a broomstick through the sleeves to spread them. Stuff the sleeves with newspaper.
  • To dye a handbag, hang the bag and stuff it full of newspaper to plump out its surface.
  • For shoes with synthetic soles and heels, paint the soles and heels first. Tape off the uppers, then use a gray primer suitable for plastic, then silver spray paint. Or, leave the soles and heels in their original color.
  • Polish silver shoes with a patent-leather polish (that contains silicon) or with a neutral shoe polish.

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  • Photo Credit leather rocker recliner image by James Phelps from
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