Reupholster or Chalk Paint? Help!

Hi everyone,
I found this beauty at my local Goodwill for $10. The fabric is coming off on the back of the chair, so I was thinking I should reupholster....however, I have never tried reupholstering. Does anyone have any advice or know of a good step by step tutorial? I was also considering chalk paint, but again, I'm still new to the DIY world. I'm in love with this chair so I don't want to mess it up. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated :)
q reupholster or chalk paint help , chalk paint, furniture repair, painted furniture, painting upholstered furniture, reupholster
  31 answers
  • Carrie Bergen Carrie Bergen on Jun 14, 2016
    My daughter and tried painting an upholstered chair we felt it was too stiff even after sanding it 🙁Sorry there may something to add to the paint...I haven't tried that.

    • See 1 previous
    • Patricia Patricia on Jun 14, 2016
      @Amanda C, Hometalk Team Thank you, Amanda! Any tips on what brand of chalk paint/paint medium to use? And any tips on actually painting furniture? I appreciate the feedback. Just like Carrie, I tried testing chalk paint on an old pillow and it dried stiff :(

  • Hi Patricia, I have been sewing and upholstering (and building and designing...) for more than 2 decades. I can tell you that a chair is one of the easiest pieces to upholster. For this particular chair you will need to know how to sew on a machine. Nothing too hard, just a basic straight stitch will get you there. Now, for a few suggestions to make your project easier for a beginner. 1) VERY CAREFULLY, remove the fabric. (remove the stitching and staples without ripping it. I know that just ripping everything off will be quick and easier, but just hang with me for a minute and you'll understand why I say this. 2)Label everything as you disassemble. If you see a pleat, mark it and label it (where it begins and where it ends, the sides, the direction of the fold, etc). If you come across tow pieces connected in a strange way, mark where, and label how. (Yes, write directly on the old fabric). Use arrows to indicate directions and whatever notes that clearly lets you know how the piece was sewn. Save the piping if it is in good condition. It can be reused and is already cut to the proper lengths. Place a piece of masking tape on each piece of piping and label where it came from. Label each and every piece odin this fashion: The top part of the seat would be marked as "Seat Top". On the front edge of that piece write "Front" Then, draw an arrow at the front edge pointing towards the front, then write "attach to piping" and "attach to Seat Front" On that strip of fabric that is at the front of the seat,(the one that looks to be about 3" wide) Label it as "Seat Front" and mark it up in the same fashion to indicate that it attaches to the Seat Top. 3) Continue marking up the seat in this fashion as you disassemble. Also, it would be a good idea to snap photos as you go on your cell, so that you have a reference to look at later. 4) Now, once you get it all disassemble, you are going to use these pieces as your pattern. (that is why I had you do all of that time consuming work). You will have a perfect pattern that you can use to get a precise fit. And if you label everything thoroughly, you will know exactly how to put everything back together. Other than sewing the seat cushion, everything else will just need to be stapled with an upholstery staple. They have these at any craft store. Buy heavy weight staples. In addition, the normal order of disassembly for this chair is: Bottom (dust cover), outer back, front and sides, inner back, then seat. You can also see my last upholstery repair here, It is not this type of chair, but it will at least give you an idea of what tools and materials are used, and why. Good luck! :-)

    • See 2 previous
    • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jun 14, 2016
      Reupholster - lots of great tips mentioned above.

  • Amanda C, Hometalk Team Amanda C, Hometalk Team on Jun 14, 2016
    If you are using chalk paint it should be fine without a medium, you simply have to sand it with a 300 grit sand paper after the paint has dried. This is a great guide for chalk paints and which to use (or make) As far as fabric mediums, which will need to be added if using latex paints, I have used Folkart and have really liked the results. There are other options too. There are fabric paints for upholstery that come in a spray can that are made for fabrics. These tend to give even softer results as does Simply Spray soft fabric paint. I know it's a bit overwhelming to figure out what will work best for your project, but I am sure it will look great whatever route you go!

  • Trudy Trudy on Jun 15, 2016
    I have read to wet the cloth before painting and to use several coats to keep it soft. Haven't tried it though.

  • Suzanne Lee Suzanne Lee on Jun 15, 2016
    I like Rachel Lynn's comments and will save them. I reupholstered a chair and stool for my daughter. Wish I had these tips back then. I will save and try it again. Saving and marking pieces is the bomb. On the lookout for a chair.

  • Suzanne Lee Suzanne Lee on Jun 15, 2016
    I like Rachel Lynn's comments and will save them. I reupholstered a chair and stool for my daughter. Wish I had these tips back then. I will save and try it again. Saving and marking pieces is the bomb. On the lookout for a chair.

  • KolleenD KolleenD on Jun 15, 2016
    PLEASE DON'T chalk board paint it!!!!!! I just don't think it looks good on furniture at all!!!!!! I would stick to a gloss black, brown, dark green, or dark blue glossy paint, and re-upholster it..... Just a thought.....

  • Sandy Sandy on Jun 15, 2016
    Do the cushion first. Remove and reuse zipper. Carefully in-sew the entire cushion. Shake it out well; hand flatten it and use each piece as a pattern for the new cushion. Reassemble. Remove each piece similarly and reapply in the manner it was first assembled. I use everything I can from the original; zipper, cording, etc. of course you will refinish or paint the frame before adding the fabric. Take a chance and choose a color from your fabric to simply spray paint the chair. For a "pop" use s bold color. Let me know how it turns out😀 Sandy Tillery

  • Sandy Sandy on Jun 15, 2016
    Un - sew instead of un-see.

  • Teresa Teresa on Jun 15, 2016
    hi I think why not but there is a really good product that will make the paint have a softer feel when it's dry. It work with any acrylic paint you want to use and the fabric feels less stiff and more flexible. Its worth the $10-11.00 you spend on it so the project feels good when you are done. Hope this helps Teresa Liquitex Fabric Medium

  • Elizabeth Burrows Elizabeth Burrows on Jun 16, 2016
    Can you remember/find the name of the product ( generice or brand name)that added to acylic paint applied to fabric makes the fabric flexible/soft? Thanks lots.

  • Connie Connie on Jun 16, 2016
    I also have a chair I love for the woodwork but bought knowing the fabric would have to go. I am still apprehensive about painting the fabric. Just me. Not sure I could do the whole reupholstery job either. I'm on the horns of a dilemma as they say. Please let us know which way you go and post your results. Anxiously awaiting ....

  • Ann M Ann M on Jun 16, 2016
    I used Annie Sloan chalk paint. First time user. Very easy. Love the finished results. Can you see the blue trim?

  • Jeannie Jeannie on Jun 16, 2016
    I personally would reupholster the chair. Only because you don't know where this fabric has been.

  • Melody McLaughlin Melody McLaughlin on Jun 17, 2016
    I agree with Jeannie. It also looks like the stuffing needs a lift (replacing) I have several of these chairs to refinish and they are all getting the works- new padding and upholstery, plus sanding and a new coat of stain. I will also be able to update the fabric to something more in style.

  • G G on Jul 13, 2016
    Planter ?

  • Betty Murphy Betty Murphy on Nov 11, 2016
    To reupholster the chair you will take it apart first. You will use the fabric as a pattern for the new chair. Now as you take it apart ne sure to remember how the pieces came apart. I did this years ago and the arms did not want to go back together so I used an extension cord for the cording, The total cost was $3,00. I had that chair for many years. Good luck. Go to the library for addl information

    • Debbie Debbie on Feb 09, 2017
      I'd like to add that in addition to remembering how the pieces came apart, that you can take a digital camera or your smart phone and take photos to help you remember the steps in which the fabric came off.

  • Chairished Furnishings Chairished Furnishings on Nov 16, 2016
    I've done several chairs like this, but not with the boxed cushion (not a big deal to make one; my chairs just didn't have this style of covering to begin with). Feel free to browse my projects posts, as I've covered a lot of the steps needed for this style of chair. Great score, BTW! I'd be all over that chair for $10 (or more!)

  • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 02, 2016
    Here's a great tutorial on a piece that has similar arms to your.
    The tutorial using a nail gun when you can just use a staple gun, and they replace the inner webbing which it doesn't look like you need.
    good luck! Show use what it looks like please, when you finish?

  • Marcie Van Deren Marcie Van Deren on Dec 02, 2016
    This website has an easy to follow tutorial that should get you started. Just google what you want to do.There are also many YouTube videos on redoing your beautiful find!

  • Mike Mike on Dec 14, 2016
    Chalk paint is cool and all, but you never know ( unless you do some research) whether you have a valuable antique or just a knock - off. If it is valuable, you just lost that value by painting it. You tube is such a great tool for all home projects....and upholstery iisnt that big a deal. You already have a pattern to follow with the old upholstery. Just remember to keep the fabric period correct if you think there is value to the chair.

  • Mcastler Mcastler on Dec 14, 2016
    tried painting a chair and very stiff-never again. I am trying slipcovers/reupholstering by taking each piece of pinning it back, and when all pieces are off, lay them out on your fabric allow for seams-also use Velcro so you can take apart for washing.

  • Rjc15866410 Rjc15866410 on Dec 16, 2016
    you can do anything if you watch YouTube to upholster a chair like the one shown takes time a a little knowledge so look up a tutorial on something like YouTube. You can also checkout the age of a chair by the front legs the one you have looks a little like Edwardian unless it's a repo. If it's got staples holding the fabric it's a repo if it's held on with tacks it could be more valuable hope this helps you

  • Marty Grimson Marty Grimson on Jan 02, 2017
    I have the exact same chair I got at an auction recently. My upholstery is torn away from frame on the back and I haven't done anything yet, but plan to. Since it goes next to a wall, I kind of forgot about the flaw. The rest is in good shape and I like the color. Good luck!

  • Charl Charl on Jan 06, 2017
    Check Youtube for reupholstering. Find a contemporary fabric and paint the chair a coordinating color.....that will bring something old very.... "today's style". Check Pinterest to see how people take a piece of old furniture and transform it to a contemporary look. They sell furniture like that in all the stores now Including chairs like yours. Hope this helps!

  • Mia Mia on Jan 24, 2017
    Your chair is nice but definitely needs reupholstery. Painting it with chalk paint will only make the velvet material stiff and uncomfortable, besides, the front is sunken or uneven. Looks like the carved wood also may need a touch of quick drying polyurehane. Good luck. You may have a jewel in disguise!

  • Monika Monika on Apr 10, 2017
    The chair is far to pretty to use chalk paint. I personally think it would look best reupholstering​.

  • Reenaroc Reenaroc on Mar 28, 2018
    I'd leave it just how it is. You could probably fix/mend the back where you say the bad part is. You could also have the seat re-stuffed or do it yourself. People always want to change things. Sometimes a $10 vintage chair is better off left alone. If you ever watch Antiques Road Show the value of furniture always goes "WAY" down when people have messed with it. You may have a $400 or $500 chair the way it is and then turn it into a $50 one. But I'd get a professional opinion. May be a very common piece and the value doesn't matter. Just my opinion. Also upholstering is not easy! I don't care what anyone says or how good of instructions you get. Until you've taken a class and done a few sample pieces for yourself you will mess it up. It is also quite costly. Between all of the proper tools you need and all of the supplies & fabric.... to do it right and to have it come out professional looking it would probably be better to just have a pro do it. But anyway nice find!!!

  • Moneer Moneer on Aug 21, 2019

    Hi how are you

  • Linda Linda on Aug 16, 2021

    Amanda what is the easiest way to get advice.I means where can I email you it to get different advice from you when my husband died I lost my partner in crime for advice on projects can I ask you the questions When I need advice I love your projects. And if you need advice I would be honored to be asked by you. I used to have my own craft business with a partner for many years doing crafts and selling them at shows and different shops my name is Linda G

    Thank you for sharing your projects respectfully yours Linda