How to Paint a Fabric Chair | Upholstered Furniture Painting Tutorial

Do you have an old chair laying around with outdated upholstery? Don't get rid of it yet; give it a fabulous new look with paint! Read on in this post to learn our tips and tricks for how to get started with fabric painting.
In this brand new video tutorial, we'll show you how to apply paint to fabric upholstery.
Watch this video to see our company co-founder, Rosanne refinishing a chair in our limited edition color, Sunday Tea!
Step 1) Shake, stir, and pour your paint
As always with painting, start by shaking your can thoroughly, then opening it up and giving it a stir. To avoid potentially contaminating your entire can of paint, pour some off into a cup for use on your project.
Step 2) Tape the edges
If you're painting just one area of your chair or there are accents that you wish to leave as is, use some painter's tape to protect them.
Step 3) Spray with water
Before applying your paint, spray down the entire fabric surface with water. It doesn't need to be soaking wet, just damp. This will help the paint spread more smoothly and help to avoid that crunchy feeling once it dries.
Step 4) Apply your first coat
Before the water dries, begin applying your first coat of paint. Keep in mind that the tighter the weave, the less paint the will soak into the fabric. If you find that the paint is drying too stiff for your liking, there are fabric mediums on the market which you can mix in with the paint to help soften the feel.
We would advise against trying to paint a very loose weave fabric as it will require a lot of paint to get opaque coverage.
Step 4) Add a second coat if needed
Step 4) Add a second coat if needed
As you can see in the above picture, the paint will often soak into the fabric while it dries. To achieve a more opaque look, give the first coat about 1 hour to dry, then apply a second coat.

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Have a question about this project?

4 questions
  • Jessica Bair
    on Mar 27, 2017

    I have never heard of clay based paints. What do I look for? What about cleaning cushions after they are painted??
    • Country Chic Paint
      on Mar 27, 2017

      Hi Jessica, Clay-based paints have very similar properties to chalk-based paints! As long as you give the paint time to fully cure, you should be able to clean the fabric without damaging it. If you have removable cushion covers, you can even put them through the washing machine!

  • Luanda Flowers Stephen
    on Sep 25, 2017

    I have a couch (vinyl) that is peeling and I would love to paint it. Should I remove the vinyl on it then paint it or should I paint over with with a latex paint?
    • Country Chic Paint
      on Sep 27, 2017

      Hi Luanda,
      It might be worth experimenting on a small patch to see if the couch can be salvaged, but painting on top of a peeling surface isn't a good idea as it will likely just continue to peel. You can try taking the vinyl off but you'll likely find it's quite rough underneath.
  • Danacol27
    on Oct 24, 2017

    Hi Hilda, does the fabric feel the same after painting it or is it very hard like when you get paint on a rag ??
    • Country Chic Paint
      on Oct 24, 2017

      Painting upholstery will make it a bit stiffer, but if you add water as we did in this tutorial, it helps the paint apply smoothly and without making it too stiff. You can also apply natural wax after the paint is dry to help soften it up even more!
    • Danacol27
      on Oct 27, 2017

      Thank you so much Hilda and thank you for sharing your tutorial it is very helpful :)
  • KLI122
    on Sep 3, 2018

    WAX on top of painted fabric??? I have a 1960s velveteen wing chair. The wings covered with caning. The fabric is 60s olive green which I’ve thought of changing to a Wedgewood blue. At first your paint idea seemed like a possibility but the more I read it seems like it could come out a real mess. Do you know how paint would work on velveteen?

    Thank you, Karen

Join the conversation

2 of 16 comments
  • Dee
    on Nov 12, 2018

  • Lois
    on Sep 7, 2019

    I feel like a pro for painting fabric furniture. I love it.have painted several pieces for other people as well as myself. Do BOT be afraid to do this. It's hRd to mess up. The results are great. Just did my sofa two weeks ago. We love it.

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