…how to paint leather tops

If you have a piece of furniture with a leather top or drawers you have a choice. You can paint right over the leather or you can keep the leather as is and paint around it. I’ve had clients ask for both ways. If you are going to try to keep some of the leather inlay, then you need to tape. You need to make painter’s tape your very best friend.


I am lucky as I live with a master taper. Don’t judge him by his closet, he is actually very pristine when it comes to his handy-work.

Here are some leather inlay tables that a client recently brought to me.



She wanted to keep the top in the original leather and also wanted a bit of the drawers taped to show some wood to match. It required effort from my master taper 🙂



There is a slight ridge where the leather drops down just a hair. You want to make sure you line up your tape right up to the edge and press it firmly down. If you do not then you risk getting a paint line or even worse, paint in the crevice. Take your time and do it right. It is not as easy as it looks. If you need a second hand then enlist someone. Once you are sure you have the line between wood and leather covered then are you are safe to paint.




You can paint over a portion of the tape because you will be pulling it off when you are finished. You will want to let the paint dry completely. If it is not dry it could drip onto the leather that you are trying to keep and it would be a mess. Be patient here.



When the paint is dry and you have waxed, then you can pull off the tape. Ta-da!









Here is the drawer front with wood showing. The client decided that she wanted it painted after all, but check out DH’s tape-job!


It is worth going slowly and doing it right. Don’t rush your taping because you could end up with a frustrating mess.







I think leaving the leather is to enjoy a bit of the original piece.


  1. beautiful leather topped tables. leaving the leather exposed was brilliant. what color ASCP was used? i have a desk, very similar in style to the leather topped end tables. the desk is probaby 50+ years old, made from stained pine, and is in desperate need of a facelift. thank you. ps: i read your blog post ‘safe nest’. wonderful. moving. timely.

  2. Joann Belcher says:

    Hi Christen,
    I have a round table with a leather top. The top has lots of glass rings on the leather,
    what do I do? Thanks

  3. Thank you. I have a leather top table i have wanted to paint for a long time. I feel more confident now.

  4. mary Brophy says:

    I have mahogany stack tables with leather inlay on top.
    The leather is old and i want to paint it. What kind of paint do I use?

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