- The Cobblers is a shoe-repair shop in Miami.
- Its team shows us how they restore the midsole on a pair of Air Jordan 4 Retros.
- They remove the chipped paint and apply new coats of paint.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Derrick Winje: My name is Derrick Winje from The Cobblers. Today, I’m going to walk you through how me and my team restored the midsole of this Bred 2012 Jordan 4.
The shoe we’re working on today specifically is the Bred 12, which is a nickname for black and red, which is very common in what you find in Jordans. The value of the shoe in the condition that it came in is probably around $US200 ($AU273) to $US225 ($AU308). If you’re lucky enough to find a pair that no one has worn in the last nine years, you’re looking at about $US550 ($AU752) for the value of the shoe if you have all the original accessories and the box.
We’re going to be removing all the paint from the midsole to prep the midsole for new paint. We’re then going to lay down some base layers of white and finish it up with a solid white coat. Then we’re going to go ahead and tape up that white to add our second color, which is black, so it looks original.
This shoe is nine years old, which is another reason why this shoe needs to be repainted, because it’s been worn a little bit and the paint’s starting to crack. The most difficult part of this restoration is keeping the midsoles looking smooth and factory-clean. The issue that we have as these shoes start to age is that the EVA foam, which is what the midsole is comprised of, starts to break down. It’s our job to try and keep that looking original and smooth by removing the paint safely, depending on the type of shoe, the type of paint, as well as the age of the shoe.
The paint on the midsole is starting to chip on this shoe because it’s from 2012. So we’re going to go ahead and remove all this paint to get started. We’re actually using a dulled blade to scrape away this paint carefully. Depending on the year and the model of shoe, they use different types of paints. On these 2012 Bred 4s, it’s actually an acrylic paint. You can tell because it’s a little bit flaky, and that’s why we’re going to be chipping away, as opposed to using a solvent or other type of chemical to remove that. It’s necessary to remove the old paint so we can get a nice clean surface to adhere to. This allows the paint to be flexible, durable, and to give us the smoothest finish possible.
When removing the paint with this method, we really want to focus on scraping just the paint and not digging down into that EVA foam midsole. So, once we have the majority, if not all of the paint removed from scraping, I’m going to go ahead and go back with some denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol works as well, to just wipe down the surface to make sure I got any debris or oil that might’ve built up on that midsole.
So, once we’ve removed all that original paint and cleaned it with alcohol, we’re going to go ahead and start with our base coats of white. Before adding that paint, I’m going to go ahead and tape up these areas to make sure I don’t get paint on any areas that I don’t want it. The trick here for taping off is just to take your time and really make sure you’re putting your tape where you need it. Once you’ve applied it, I always like to take a step back and look at it to make sure I have a second eye, or a second angle to make sure I did that accurately.
Almost every time we’re repainting midsoles, I’m going to use a base layer of paint, which is actually just the color I’m using when I’m first painting. In this case it’s going to be white before I do the black, so I’m going to do some light coats of white to build up a base and then do more coats of white to get a full, solid color. When I’m applying the white paint as the base layer, I make sure I apply that all over for a few coats, but once I have about two coats down as a base coat, I’ll then focus on the area where the white paint is actually visible once we’re going to be done with the paint job. In this case, that’s going to be on the bottom of the midsole, as the top is going to be black.
So, once we finish the white paint, you can see it’s a nice, solid color on the bottom. And now we need to do the top, which is going to be black. For this, I’m going to be using a quarter-inch blue painter’s tape to tape off the bottom, so I can put the black paint on top cleanly. You can use any tape you really want. You just need to make sure you can get a clean, crisp edge. When we’re applying this tape for the second color, we need it to be very precise. On this particular shoe, there is a little ledge here that I can tuck the tape underneath, which gives me a little guide to make sure I can line this up properly. If the tape is not placed carefully, you’re going to alter that line. It’s not going to be a smooth, straight finish, and it’s not going to look factory.
The type of paint we’re using today is Angelus paint. It’s specifically designed for leather and sneakers in general. It’s a very flexible, durable paint that we love to use here. When I’m painting, I try to focus on stretching the paint out as much as possible and making that a really thin coat. If we’re using too much paint, it’s going to be too thick and it’s going to crack when the customer wears it. We’re also going to get some brushstrokes, so we want to make sure these are very thin coats that we’re trying to spread out evenly.
On this shoe, you can see that I chose not to tape off the upper of the shoe. That’s because of two reasons. The upper on the shoe is delicate, based off the material, and also, I don’t want to get any paint on that upper. So I’d rather trust my eye than the tape to stop the paint.
So, once I put on that last coat of black and that color is looking full, I can go ahead and remove all the tape, but I need to allow this to dry for five to 10 minutes, so the paint is fully cured. The paint will cure fully over the next 24 hours, so we recommend the customers don’t wear that. It just needs to wait 24 hours, then you can get them back on the streets.