Deer Run Revamps
Deer Run Revamps
  • Hometalker
  • Barnegat, NJ

Let's Update an Old Chair! How to Paint Fabric Using Chalk Paint

8 Materials
$28
2 Days
Medium

Did you know that you can paint fabric with chalk paint!?!

I was asked to donate a piece to a gift auction to raise money for a local teacher who has cancer and needs a pricey elective surgery done. This woman taught my son in the 4th grade, 6 years ago! He adored her!

I found a 1930's occasional chair that I fell in love with. Now, I've never drawn or painted any design freehand before, I've always used stencils or transfers. But I had a vision. And this vision forced me out of my comfort zone and made me freehand a blooming tree branch. Here is how I took an old outdated chair and turned it into a one of a kind piece 😍

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

First...clean your piece really good! If using a chemical cleaner, wipe down with water after.

The most important thing to remember when painting fabric with chalk paint is...you want to "stain" the fabric, not "paint" it. This means water is your best friend!

Gather your supplies...a spray bottle filled with water (I'm using an old rinsed out 409 bottle right now), a mixing cup, your paint, a large paint brush, and a couple of small artist's brushes to get into the little creases.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Pour a good amount of paint into the mixing cup and water it down 50/50 mix and mix well. Working in smaller sections, spray your chair with water. You don't want to soak it, but be sure every part has been spritzed with water before applying paint. Now, it's time to paint!

I used all "ooops" paints from home depot and mixed them with calcium carbonate to make chalk paint. So I don't know the names of the colors I used for this project.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Your first coat or two, or even three depending on how light your color is, will look terrible! It won't cover much and you'll ask yourself if you made the right decision. Trust me, you did! Keep spraying water in small sections and applying your paint until you have the first coat finished. Now take your small artist brush and get into all the creases and cracks.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

It will take quite a few hours for this to dry. I had a fan going to speed up the process, but be prepared to wait at least 2-6 hours.

Once the first coat is dry, sand with 220 grit sandpaper or sanding block. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! This is what makes the surface soft!

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Dust off the piece, spritz with water, and apply your next coat and be sure to get into all the crevices.

Once dried, sand again with 220 grit sandpaper.

Continue these steps until you've reached your desired coverage. For my piece, it took 4 coats.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

I decided to paint a flowering tree branch cascading down the backrest to signify a new beginning. You don't have to do any design, but if you do, do that step now.

Be sure the surface is sanded good and free of any dust. I didn't spray water while doing my design in fear of it running. I just painted with non watered down chalk paint.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Now it's time to paint the frame. I used a creamy off white, it compliments the tiffany blue just perfectly!

Using 220 grit sandpaper, do a quick sand. This scuffs up the wood enough for the paint to adhere really well. Wipe down with a wet rag to get rid of any dust.

Tape any areas you don't want to get this color on and paint away! You may need a small brush to get into small areas like where the legs meet the fabric.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Once dry, sand with 220 grit sandpaper. This will smooth out any brush marks.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

Do additional coats as necessary, sanding after each.

I decided to do a good amount of distressing to the areas that normally would get worn. This really helped bring out the details. I love the contrast of the wood peeking through.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

If your chair has upholstery tacs, paint them now.

I used the same color as the frame to really tie it all in

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

You made it to the final step!!

This is as important as sanding! This step will make the paint feel like leather and keep it looking gorgeous for years!

I used behr clear wax. This stuff is awesome! Easy to apply and leaves such a beautiful sheen when buffed.

Using a round wax brush (or whatever applicator you prefer), apply the wax to the entire chair, frame and seat! Don't forget the back! After about 10 minutes, using my favorite tool in the workshop, an old clean cotton tshirt (or preferred method), buff the wax (lightly rubbing in a circular motion) until you've achieved your desired sheen! You may want to add another layer of wax if you want more shine. You can do that 30 minutes after you finish buffing the first layer.


Depending on the type of fabric and how much water was used, the chair can feel like leather (like mine, less water), or it can still feel like a fabric.

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint

This is how I took an old unwanted chair and turned it into a meaningful money maker that will be donated to a good cause!

If you have any tips or tricks, or any questions about this process, let me know in the comments!

Please, if you try this, let us know you're experience and thoughts on the process! At the end of this page is a link to my Facebook page. You can contact me there 😉 Excited to see other painted chairs!

how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint
how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint
how to update an old fabric chair using chalk paint
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 39 questions
  • Arlene
    on May 4, 2019

    First off, the chair is beautiful. Second, I have a 6-recliner Lazyboy sectional that I absolutely hate... because it's white! ( I'm claiming temporary insanity on the purchase). How do you clean it once it's painted? And does it matter what kind of fabric it is?

  • Michelle Dodson
    on May 5, 2019

    So, I just bought a chair at Goodwill. At first I absolutely loved it, but ... I'm not crazy about the dark wood and, although I love the pattern, the color isn't really doing it for me. Is is possible to paint the chair and still let the pattern show through? Also, I want to redo the wooden frame.


    It's a lot darker than the picture reflects, but it did clean up nicely, though.

  • Vicky
    4 hours ago

    I really want to try this!! Soon! Does it work ok for outdoor cushions?? I might try it on my stained dining room chairs before I give up and reupholster them. Great idea! I will post pics when I do it. Thanks!!

    • Deer Run Revamps
      31 minutes ago

      I'm not sure how it would do with outdoor cushions. The wax will work as a waterproof layer, but may need to be reapplied once a month after being out in the elements

Join the conversation

2 of 167 comments
  • Teresa
    on May 13, 2019

    This is absolutely fabulous!!! I bet it raised a lot of money for the teacher.

  • Lenore
    on May 14, 2019

    wow! great job. great job on how you did it to you have a lot of talent.

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