How to Paint Zippers, Buttons, Hardware, and Accessories

get ready to learn how easy it is to paint zippers!

i want it how i want it

If you know me AT ALL, you know I want it how I want it, and I will go to great lengths to change things so they are the way I want. This is me at a restaurant. Or anywhere I go:

Sometimes I find things that are almost perfect, and if the detail I don’t like is something I can change, I will buy it. One of my number one peeves? Gold hardware on clothes and jewelry. Gold is great for a lot of people; it’s not great for me. I only like silver. The shinier the better.

A couple of years ago I learned how to paint zippers and hardware on my clothes, small pieces of jewelry, and sometimes accents on shoes. I made a video to show you exactly how I did it, and below I put together a Q&A about it.

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Q&A - How to paint zippers, button, snaps, hardward and more

what do you use to paint zippers, etc.?

I use Essie No Place Like Chrome nail polish. I’ve tried lots of other brands, but haven’t found one I like better that gives such a good effect.

what else do i need?

Painter’s tape, acetone (to thin out the polish if it gets thick), and the nail polish.

how long does it take?

It depends on the item. A small shoulder zipper takes 5-10 minutes. I did a jacket that had a zipper, and tons of buttons and snaps that took 3 hours. #worthit I turned on a movie to entertain me while I painted.

what have you painted?

Zippers, buttons (I hate sewing on buttons, I’d rather paint the old ones), snaps, earrings. I did a necklace that turned out well, but it’s really hard to do the chain, and where the polish portions touched the back of my neck made me really itchy when I wore it. Painting the front of a pair of stud earrings takes 30 seconds, and it doesn’t touch my skin.

what won't you paint?

Buckles or anything that gets a lot of friction. I rarely zip my jackets, so those don’t get any action, really. I also won’t paint anything super expensive, unless I already own it, really love it, and don’t want to sell it. But I won’t buy something really expensive with the intention of painting hardware. I don’t paint hardware on a handbag. Those zippers get a lot of use. The rest of the hardware on a handbag tends to be rounded, tucked under leather, and would be really hard to get to the whole thing. If the bag has a lot of gold hardware, I keep looking. If it has a little that isn’t noticeable, I can ignore it. Also, bags tend to be something I spend more on, so no for that reason as well.

have you ruined anything?

Not yet!

how do you get it perfect?

I don’t. But you can’t see the imperfections without really inspecting it very up close. No one is getting that up close and personal with my zippers. The overall effect is just a shiny silver zipper.

what are your best tips?

  • Use thin, light layers.

  • Make sure the polish is thin and not gooey or goopy. If it is, thin it out with acetone.

  • Start on something you are ready to get rid of and do a practice run before you work on something you love.

  • Accept that it won’t be perfect, and no one else will know it but you.

does the polish come off in the wash?

I haven’t had that problem.

why do you keep buying things with gold zippers if you don't like gold?

Because otherwise the item is exactly what I want. The color, the cut, the fit, the style all might be just right, but the gold zippers keep it from being a ten out of ten. If all I have to do is paint a zipper or some buttons, I’m willing to do that.

Can we see some other things you've painted?

Here’s a before and after. This jacket is one I did recently. Doesn’t it look so much better with silver hardware? The color of the jacket is more accurate in the first picture. It’s a true Kelly green, and that dull brass hardware looks so wrong with it. The silver hardware looks perfect with this hue, and now it won’t clash with my jewelry.

Swiping on a layer of nail polish took about 30 seconds, and these earrings went from dull and brassy to shiny silver.

Do you have any additional questions I didn’t answer about how to paint zippers? Leave them in the comments section down below!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase through my links I get a small commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

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35 thoughts on “How to Paint Zippers, Buttons, Hardware, and Accessories”

  1. Thank you for this video, April. I now have concise instructions before I start to paint on how to tackle the dreaded gold hardware.

      1. I am the same way about gold zippers/buttons. I may love the rest of it but won’t buy it with gold. I only wear silver as well. Never dreamed you could do this. Thank you! We are retired and on a limited income and my husband is seriously ill with a lot of medical bills so probably can’t join now. Hopefully sometime in the future. I really enjoyed your webinar and learned a lot! Thank you.

  2. Musical Gardens

    Perfect! I’ve seen chrome pens online that I’ve wanted to try, but haven’t ordered them yet. I’ll have to try your nail polish method first on a pair of black booties that I adore, but they have a non-functioning gold zipper that drives me nuts. BTW, which eye makeup look are you wearing in the video? It’s lovely!


        My T4/3 is hating that I can’t edit my above comment, ugh. Meant to say, ‘it’ not ‘it’s’.

  3. Musical Gardens

    I’ll totally let you know when I try the chrome pen! Yes, very helpful to share the link to your makeup look. I thought that perhaps this was a different look you were trying out as I’ve watched all your makeup videos and I couldn’t quite place this one. I’m guessing it’s was due to lighting or the different colors you are wearing. Thank you!

    1. It was more of a quick day makeup day, so I went with my basic makeup look. I may have applied with a lighter hand, or it could be the lighting. Thanks for letting me know it’s helpful to share which makeup looks I’m wearing. If no one comments on things, I have no idea if it’s helpful and worth my time, so I appreciate you speaking up.

  4. Thank you for this tutorial! I painted my favorite pair of triangle pyramid stud earrings, and I love them even more now! I worried that my quick single coat wouldn’t be flawless, but it smoothed out beautifully. You make painting zippers look easy, but I wonder if I would need to use a finer tip brush. Thank you for all the helpful advice, I have really learned so much from you! It’s helping me feel my best!!

    1. Ashley thank you so much for reporting back! I want those pyramid stud earrings! I’m so glad it’s all been helpful to you. I think a finer tip brush could be helpful for some parts, but might make it take much longer. If you try it let me know.

  5. Hi, April! I wanted to tell you that I just finished my first button painting project and am so happy with the results!! I put it off for quite a while because it not only involved buttons but also grommets. I was nervous about painting the grommets but keeping the polish off my shirt. I finally decided to just jump in and give it a try. Now that it’s done, I can’t believe I put it off for so long! And I didn’t realize how much I was internally cringing every time I saw the gold buttons! I can’t wait to wear the shirt again. Now I’m on the hunt for anything else gold that needs to be painted!

  6. I looove this! I also am so picky about my things and like them to be exactly how I want, but I am the opposite and prefer gold! I just have one question, I bought a bag and while I don’t want to ruin it the silver zippers do really bug me. But they might get used a lot, and I’m just wondering if you knew if the paint looks really bad when it wears off or something? Or is it possible to use nail polish remover on the metal to take it off?

  7. GWY, I never paint the hardware on my bags bc they do get so much friction. I would imagine that if the polish starts to come off it would be like chopped polish on your fingernails and would start to bother you. If you really want to try it, I would practice on a bag you don’t love. Maybe even get one from a thrift store for a couple of dollars and zip it a few times every day to see how it wears. Other wise I would buy a bag with gold hardware. Also I would say thin light coats would be extra important so it doesn’t flake off.

  8. Hi April. You are a Fashion Hero. Thanks for being awesome and inventing this hack. Ok so I want to do the exact opposite, I want the zippers and snaps on my leather jacket to be dull instead of shiny. I just ordered Essie’s "seeing stars" (brown gold shimmer). I think I will dilute it even more than you do so it’s more of a patina, and some of the original metal color shows through. If you have any suggestions as I go into this, I’m all ears. Thanks!

  9. Well thanks Zack! I actually didn’t invent it. I heard about it from a friend of mine. I just found the best (so far) color to use and perfected my own technique.

    I only dilute when it gets sticky. On a new bottle I use it straight. I’m not sure how diluting it further will affect the staying power. I would experiment on something you don’t care about first.

    I like your idea to get more of a patina look. I’d love to see the finished result!

  10. I have a pair of white jeans that I love except the buttons are brass. I would prefer them white. Should I use white paint or nail polish? Thx!

  11. Hi Kris. It mostly depends on personal preference. The silver will provide some contrast and the white doesn’t. Any mistakes with white will also be unnoticeable. The job will go faster and you won’t have to be as careful. Let me know how it goes!

  12. HI! I’m about to attempt to paint my first zipper, thanks to your post and video tutorial. Could I ask, even with a thin coat, have you ever has an issue with the zipper not zipping back up once dry?

  13. Charlie Baltimore

    Awesome. I didn’t think I would find anything when I googled “how to change zipper color” LOL I just got a nice backpack n zipper WAS silver in pic, but it’s gold n I hate gold, I only wear/like silver. Probably will try this hopefully it comes out good. QUESTION tho how come nail polish and not any other kind of paint? There’s so many different types of paint at Michael’s and other craft stores. Also wouldn’t it be better to use a gel polish, then maybe it’ll last longer?

    1. I’m glad I could surprise you with a post about it then! Nail polish is easier to direct than something like spray paint, and it adheres to metal better than something like acrylic. If you find something better, I’d LOVE to know about it!! I don’t have gel polish or the UV light, but my friend does, so maybe I’ll try it. I’d have to find a good metallic silver polish, and the item would have to fit under the UV light. I could see that being tricky with something as big as a zipper.

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  15. Hey April! I’m looking for a black paint to paint zippers that are on some black pants I have. The zippers are on the hip area so in silver makes the pants look a little too sporty and draw attention to the widest part of me. I think having the zippers black will make the pants a little more edgy and not as sporty. Thoughts? Thanks!

  16. How inspiring! I have this black leather jacket that I don’t wear anymore because of the zippers color. I was thinking of bringing it to a shoe repair place to have the zippers changed. But now, having watched your video, I’m thinking of changing the color of the zippers to black with the Essie Licorice nail polish. I’m debating between purchasing 1 or 2 bottles of nail polish. Anyways, wish me luck! 😬

    1. One bottle of polish would be plenty. I’m excited for you to get to wear your leather jacket again! Those details can really make or break an item. Let me know how it goes!

  17. Great to find this style tip. I have an interesting top with brassy looking buttons- which cheapens it. I’m supposing I could use black nail varnish too?( I’d really like black buttons- but they’re stud type brassy ones so tricky to remove.) Anyone tried this? Does it matter which nail varnish you use? Thanks. Suzi

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