Quick and Easy Chalk Painted Chair

3 Materials
3 Days

I know this has been done so many times but it never gets old when you have a chair that you come across and it just needs quick color change.

I had such a chair I picked up for $20 but needed a different look for my master bedroom at the lake. It was in great condition, no rips or tears and the padding was still really comfortable.

After giving the chair a quick dusting, I mixed the grey chalk paint with equal parts of water. I wanted it very runny so it would soak in good. I used a spray bottle filled with water and sprayed each section first so it was pretty damp to the touch.

I used a pretty thick, cheaper brush, and just loaded it up with the mixture so the brush was dripping. I used a mixture of usual paint strokes but also swirled it around, really working it into the fabric.

This is quite a messy process so have a rag handy to wipe up the drips and protect whatever service you are working on if needed.

Once the first coat was on, I let it sit for 24 hours to fully dry.

Once dry, I gave it a quick sand. Very lightly, this is just to take off any rough areas you may feel.

Once wiped off, I mixed the grey chalk paint with 2 parts paint, one part water. Using the same process as before, I gave it another coat.

Second coat looked good, could've left as so depending on what look you are going for but after waiting 24 hrs again, I gave it another coat after a quick sand, adding a bit more paint into the mixture then I used for the second coat. I wasn't too worried about getting the paint on the wood part as I knew I'd be painting that as well.

Satisfied with the third coat, I did another quick sand. For those of you who have done this before, would you agree that after the last sanding the material feels so smooth and neat? It's almost like leather.

Time to paint the chair. I wiped the wood down and made sure I got off any dust and grime.

I used left over cabinet paint I had, it's worked well on so many projects.

After the first coat, I let it dry for a few hours and then did another. Don't mind the mess in the background, I usually have many projects on the go at once!

Here's the final look before waxing.

I did one coat of wax on the material to protect it. For some reason, parts of the chair had white streaks on it after waxing, maybe someone on here knows why?

Thankfully my look at the cabin is beachy shabby chic so it didn't really matter this time. I left if as is and for me it works!

Here it is in it's new home!

I could've done it in the same color as I painted the little lounger to match but knowing me, I will move this chair many times so I figured the more neutral, the better!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • LindaBF48
    on Jan 31, 2021

    My husband’s old recliner could use a refresh and I’ve been considering re-upholstering. I’m curious how well you think this would work with the following eccentricities: 1. Some slight rips that could be covered with fabric tape; 2. The fabric has a leaf motif with some of the stems and outlines machine-embroidered so it’s not a completely even surface. I’m not as handy as most on this site, but wonder how you think it would work with these features.

    • BenFranklin methodologist
      BenFranklin methodologist
      on Feb 1, 2021

      Hi, Linda, Michaela is right that your project won’t turn out like her chair (light, tan & smooth), but you can use her steps & her same principles to achieve a nice effect & do a“Cinderellatransformation” of your bulkier recliner! If you think of yours as the dark old leather appeal, I think that not only will you gain the practice that Michaela mentioned, but also a very masculine “Old antique smoking chair look, but with a nice clean twist, because it will be done with nice fresh paint! I would opt to use atleast two color of dark brown & darker brown (bring an old brown purse or a brown shoe of your husband’s to pick out the 2 choices.) My reason for 2 is the rips & the raised embroidery. I would “pre-treat” those areas in the high visibility places, ie. the front part of the head rest & the tops of the arms - I would think of the paint as a “glue over” on the rips (trim flapping excess first) and use spray water then paint to cover any stuffing from protruding (tape will have square edges, too hard to disguise with paint layers) & any of the embroidery that seems more raised. When your project is finished it should have a “sewn together old suede leather covered” recliner look! You can use some lighter colored throws over the back or one arm to get some light added & to hide any problem areas you may have had. You should have an attractive, practical transformation of your recliner! Yes! It will have more of a southwestern, or an English den/pub look, but it can be a fabulous reinvented look! (P.S. the 2 colors of brown help disguise the rip booboos & highs & lows of some of the embroidery!) Good Luck!

  • Sandy
    on Feb 24, 2021

    Have you ever done leather? Have a leather r

    chair that some leather has rubbed off on arms and headrest but still sturdy...thinking of painting with fusion or as you did with chalk paint. Appreciate your comments...thanks so much

    • Mihaela Parker
      Mihaela Parker
      on Feb 25, 2021

      I haven't no but I think it would be even easier then fabric. I'd give a light sand on the areas where it's rubbed off to make sure the surface is even. With a very low grit like 220. You might not need as many coats with it being such a smooth surface and light color.

      I'd love to see pics when your done!

  • Sissyc
    on Mar 2, 2021

    Why didn’t you paint frames first

    but nice job

    • Mihaela Parker
      Mihaela Parker
      on Mar 2, 2021

      Because the process of painting the fabric is messy and the water down paint gets all over, I find this order way easier.

Join the conversation

3 of 11 comments
  • Mary
    on Jan 31, 2021

    I used rit dye in a squeeze bottle to cover lime green chairs with a deep coco brown. It’s been 7 years now and they still look perfect

    • Karen Williams
      Karen Williams
      on Mar 5, 2021

      Wow! Did the fabric just soak up the dye and it dries without needing to blot or do anything to it? I’m very intrigued w the steps you took. Great job!

  • BenFranklin methodologist
    BenFranklin methodologist
    on Feb 1, 2021

    Yes! Mary! I love your chair & the fact that you used Rit dye to achieve such a successful look - reminds me of dark suede or velour fabric & the color is part of the reason for lasting 7 years! Kudos!!

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