Can You Dye Faux Leather? (Answer & 2 Best Alternatives)

Can You Dye Faux Leather

There are several ways to change the color of your faux leather items. But can you dye faux leather?

No! dyes won’t adhere to faux leather, so it’s best to use a paint or marker instead. This is mainly because faux leather is a non-porous material, unlike real leather which has pores and fibers for dyes to soak into.

Here’s what I’m going to talk about in the rest of the article;

How to Use Dyes in Upholstery Proje...
How to Use Dyes in Upholstery Projects
  • Details on why faux leather cannot be dyed
  • What you can use to change or improve the color of your faux leather items
  • The pros and cons of those alternatives
  • And a step-by-step guide on how to use those alternatives

Details On Why You CANNOT Dye Faux Leather

1. Faux Leather Is A Plastic Based-Material

One of the main reasons why you cannot dye faux leather is because it is a plastic-based material.

Faux leather is made of plastics such as polyurethane, PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. These plastics are not porous, so they do not allow any type of dye to soak in.

Additionally, even if you were able to dye faux leather with real leather dyes (which is not possible), the color would most likely not be consistent since the faux and real leather would react differently to the dye.

It is important to understand that plastic-based materials do not absorb dye in the same way as natural materials like cotton, wool, or leather.

In addition to faux leather not having any pores or fibers, it also does not have a grain pattern like natural leather does.

This is because faux leather is a synthetic material that is made to look like natural leather. The lack of pores, fibers, and natural grain pattern make it almost impossible to dye faux leather.

2. Dyes Are Meant To Form Chemical Bonds

When you apply dyes to faux leather materials, it cannot form a chemical bond to give the faux leather material a permanent new color.

This is because dyes are meant to form a chemical bond with the material on which they are being applied.

Faux leather does not have any chemical bonds that the dye can bind to, so the dye will eventually wear off after a short period of time.

Even if you were to apply the dye and let it dry, when the faux leather item gets wet or is exposed to any type of heat, the dye will start to wear off.

This will leave your faux leather item in a rather worse state than when you first applied the dye, as it will be patchy and faded.

3. Faux Leather Is A Non-porous Material

One of the main reasons why you cannot dye faux leather is because it is a non-porous material.

I know I have said this a couple of times already but it is important to remember as this is the main reason why you cannot dye faux leather.

Non-porous materials are those that do not allow any type of liquid, including dye, to soak into the material.

This is because non-porous materials have a protective coating or layer that does not allow any type of liquid to enter the material.

Faux leather is a non-porous material because it has this protective layer that is often made up of plastic or polyurethane and does not allow any type of liquid, including dye, to enter the material.

This protective layer is often colored before being applied to faux leather so changing the color again with dyes is impossible.

Plus, even if you were to remove the protective layer of faux leather on top with chemicals or heat, it would still remain non-porous and the dye will not work.

What Can You Do To Change The Color Of Faux Leather?

Now that we have established the main reasons why you cannot dye faux leather, let’s take a look at some possible alternatives.

Based on the characteristics I have mentioned on faux leather, the colorant you pick out should be able to form a physical bond with the faux leather surface since faux leather is a non-porous material.

Meaning you must go for a colorant that does not need to get soaked into the material before it can change the color of the faux leather.

Now that this is clear, let’s now take a look at so of the best ways you can change the color of your faux leather.

Using Acrylic Paint Or Leather Paint On Faux Leather

Acrylic or leather paint is a great way to change the color of your faux leather item. Acrylic paint is water-based paint that is easy to apply and does not require heat or chemicals in order to dry.

Using acrylic paint or leather paint is a great alternative for any size of faux leather project, from small projects like phone cases to larger projects like sofas or chairs.

This is certainly a better option when it comes to dyeing faux leather, as acrylic or leather paint will form a physical bond with the surface of the faux leather.

In addition, acrylic paint and leather paint are easy to apply and come in a wide range of colors. You can even mix two or more colors together if you want to create a new color.

The Pros Of Using Acrylic Paint Or Leather Paint On Faux Leather:

  • Water-based, so it does not require any type of chemical solvents to dry.
  • Can be used by either airbrush or paintbrush.
  • Comes in a variety of colors that can be mixed together to create new colors.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Dries fast and does not require heat.
  • Do not damage the faux leather surface.
  • Water-based but becomes waterproof after it dries.

The Cons Of Using Acrylic Paint Or Leather Paint On Faux Leather:

  • The paint can chip and peel over time if it is not applied correctly or is not durable enough.
  • The paint can eventually fade over time if exposed to a lot of sun or heat.
  • May require multiple coats to achieve the desired color.
  • Not very durable for faux leather shoes or bags that are used every day.

How To Use Acrylic Paint To “Dye” Faux Leather

To use acrylic paint or leather paint to “dye” faux leather, you will need the following items;

Things Needed:

Procedure:

Step 1:

  • Remove any loose dirt or dust from the surface of the faux leather using a clean cloth.
  • If there are any parts of the faux leather that is peeling you want to gently peel it off.
  • You do not want to paint your faux leather with loose dirt or peeling parts of faux leather.

Step 2:

  • Now clean your faux leather with mild dish soap and lukewarm water.
  • Make sure to wipe off all soap residue from the faux leather after cleaning the surface.
  • Let the faux leather surface dry thoroughly before moving on to the next steps.
  • You want to remove any dirt or stains that could affect the paint job.
  • This step is important if your faux leather item has not been cleaned for a while.
  • If your faux leather item is clean or new, skip this step.

Step 3:

  • Now mix a thin consistency of acrylic paint or leather paint with an equal amount of water.
  • You want the paint to be thin enough so that it will easily flow through the airbrush or paintbrush.
  • This will make the faux leather porous enough for you to be able to apply an even coat of color and a second or third coat if needed.

Step 4:

  • Now apply the paint to your faux leather item using an airbrush or a brush.
  • Make sure to evenly coat the surface of the faux leather with the paint.
  • If you are using a brush, apply even pressure and make long strokes.
  • Do not apply too much paint at one time or it will drip and create unwanted streaks on the faux leather.
  • Apply 2 or 3 coats and make sure each coat dries before applying the next coat.
  • You can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process if needed.

Step 5:

  • Once you’re satisfied with the results, let the paint dry thoroughly.
  • If you used thin layers of acrylic or leather paint, this should not take too long to dry.
  • Now your faux leather item should have a new, fresh color that will not fade or chip with time!

Using A Permanent Marker On Faux Leather

Another way of changing or improving the color of your faux leather items such as shoes, boots, etc. is by using a permanent marker.

Using a permanent marker or sharpie is a great alternative due to the fact that it is simple and easy to do.

It is a great alternative for smaller faux leather projects and customizations and does not require any paint or special tools.

However, you need to be careful when using a marker on your faux leather item because it can be a bit tricky.

You also have to make sure that the permanent marker you are using is the right color for your faux leather item.

If you are not careful, the permanent marker can end up looking blotchy or uneven.

But all in all, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to change the color of your faux leather, then using a permanent marker is a great option.

The Pros Of Using A Permanent Marker On Faux Leather

  • Easy to use.
  • A wide variety of colors is available
  • Quick and easy way to change the color of your faux leather item.
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used on any faux leather item.
  • Best on small faux leather items like shoes, bags, and faux leather jacket customizations.

The Cons Of Using A Permanent Marker On Faux Leather

  • Might end up looking blotchy or uneven depending on the color of the marker and faux leather item.

How To Use Permanent Marker To “Dye” Faux Leather

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use a permanent marker to dye your faux leather item.

Things Needed:

  • Permanent Marker or Sharpie
  • Clean Cloth

Procedure:

Step 1:

  • Start off by marking out the area of faux leather you want to color with a permanent marker or sharpie.
  • Make sure that the area is smaller than your marker so it will not bleed outside the marked-out area.

Step 2:

  • Shake the marker up and test it out on a piece of paper to make sure it is working well and it is the color you want.
  • If the marker is not working well, you might need to shake it up a bit more.

Step 3:

  • Now begin coloring in the area you marked out on your faux leather item with your permanent marker.
  • Make sure to color in the same direction so the color does not look uneven or blotchy.

Step 4:

  • Once you are satisfied with the color, let it dry.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this article, you cannot dye faux leather using regular dyes mainly because faux leather is not made from animal hide or it does not consist of any natural fibers or pores to help bond the dye to the faux leather.

So if you are looking for a way to change or improve the color of your faux leather item, then using acrylic paint, leather paint, or a permanent marker are your best options.

Each method has its own set of pros and cons, so you need to decide which one will work best for your specific project.

In any case, make sure to read the instructions carefully and take your time when applying the paint or marker to the faux leather item.

Happy crafting! 🙂

FAQ

Q: Can you dye faux leather with rit dye?

A: No, you cannot dye faux leather with rit dye because faux leather is a plastic-based material so it will not absorb dye to affect the color change you may require.

Another reason why this may not work is faux leather is a nonporous material so the dye cannot seep through the material to change its color or improve it.

Kwabena

Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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