sandals - African design image by Charlie Rosenberg from

Painted sandals make great gifts, interesting conversation pieces, and may even have potential for sales and profit. Paint will adhere to wood, rubber and leather, and can be used on new or pre-worn sandals. All you need is a few supplies, the right technique and a little bit of creativity. Making your own painted sandals will save money and give you the chance to express your own unique style.

Rubber Sandals

Start with clean sandals, new or pre-worn. Hold the sandal on its side and draw or stencil a design with the pencil. Skip the use of the pencil if you are comfortable making a free-hand design with paints.

Place your color choices on an artist palette or a Styrofoam plate. Brush colors onto the sandals as preferred. Continue the process around the sides of the sandal. Let dry for a few hours.

Embellish your design with indelible colored makers, if desired. Remove pencil marks with eraser when completely dry. Do this carefully. Spray with acrylic fixative to protect the paint.

Wooden Sandals

Scratch off logo with sandpaper, if necessary. Cover the edge of the sole with painters tape, making sure it is all carefully covered. Cover straps with scrap paper and secure it with painters tape. Double check to make sure the paint will not touch any part of the sandals not intended for painting.

Apply three coats of paint to the wood. Dry for at least 20 minutes between coats. Let dry at least four hours before embellishing. Use the same design technique as you would for the rubber sandals.

Let dry overnight, then apply three coats of varnish over the painted area. Let dry four hours in between coats and after final coat. Remove the protective paper and tape.


To paint stripes, apply pieces of painters tape at 1-inch intervals. Paint a contrasting color between pieces of tape. Remove tape after drying for 24 hours.

Apply painters tape to your hand before placing on the sandal. Contact with skin oils reduces tackiness, simplifying its removal from the sandal.

Use the width of a piece of painters tape to measure equal distances between tape placements.

Use a shoe stripper before painting used leather sandals. Apply with a cloth and rub to remove oil, polish and dirt.

Thin coats of paints provide better results than thicker coats.

Cover work table with clear plastic or newspaper to protect it from paint spills or damage from the shoe stripper.

About the Author

Doreen Fiorillo

Doreen Fiorillo has been writing feature and content articles online and in print since 2002. She has been published in Arizona Boating and Watercraft, as well as the "Las Vegas Bugle." Fiorillo is a former mental-health therapist who holds a Master of Arts in psychology from Norwich University.