Should I try Textile Medium to avoid stiffness when painting fabric?

by Betty
I have two antique victorian chairs that have faded with age. I would like to try chalk paint on them but am afraid of stiffness. I've heard of a product called Textile Medium to add to paint for fabrics to avoid the stiffness.
Does anyone have any feedback on this product?
  12 answers
  • Huda Husnain Huda Husnain on Feb 02, 2015
    Definitely... and it would even make the paint more durable.
  • Shari Shari on Feb 02, 2015
    I've been contemplating this type of project myself and trying to decide whether I wanted to use the latex paint and fabric medium technique --or-- the chalk paint and wax technique. From everything I've read the latex paint with fabric medium seems to give a softer finish and although people say the chalk paint and wax technique results are soft, it feels a bit like leather, which I don't think I want. Decisions, decisions... If you haven't seen these sites, you might find them helpful.
  • Mac Mac on Feb 03, 2015
    I have tried textile medium w/chalk paint and my fabric still came out stiff.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Feb 03, 2015
    Would strip the wood and restain it. Would also remove the heart embellishment. The velvet/velour on these chairs is probably the old type that if you could get it now - is horrendously expensive. Just me - would return these beauties to the roots.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Feb 03, 2015
    Although I have not used chalk paint on a velvet chair, my understanding is that it will end up being quite stiff, especially in between the tufts. Fabric medium does help thin the paint so the fabric will absorb better, but the velvet, by its nature, tends to stiffen up when painted. The problem is that you have to paint on quite thick coats in order to cover. You might try a fabric spray paint like this one from Walmart : They are specifically designed for this purpose. I've used one I got at Joann's and it worked great.
    • Shari Shari on Feb 03, 2015
      @Sue@CountryDesignHome All the tutorials I have read and the videos I've watched for the chalk paint method or the latex/fabric medium method say misting the fabric generously first, adding enough water to the paint to make it very thin, multiple thin coats of paint, and sanding between coats are key to keeping the paint from becoming extremely stiff. Rather than "stiff" I have seen painted upholstery described as feeling smooth, a bit like leather or vinyl.
  • Marj MRC Creations Marj MRC Creations on Feb 03, 2015
    It looks to me like you've already started transforming this beautiful chair as I think that blue on the arms and back looks quite new. I LOVE it!! What a gorgeous colour! I have no input on the paint on fabric as I haven't tried that yet, but just had to comment on what you've done so far... that is, if it's you who painted that delicious blue on there. :)
  • Canary Street Crafts Canary Street Crafts on Feb 03, 2015
    I just painted a fabric chair seat with chalk paint. I watered down the chalk paint and also lightly misted the fabric with water before painting. I lightly sanded between each coat of paint and used a clear wax to seal it. When finished, the fabric wasn't stiff at all but it did have a look and feel that sort of reminded me of vinyl. The original fabric had a dark blue stripe and I was painting it white, so it took 4 coats to completely cover it. Without that dark stripe it would have been fully covered with 2 coats. I can't say it was a total failure but I wasn't thrilled with the vinyl-y feel. If I tried it again, I'd mist the fabric a bit more before painting and try to paint something that would only take 2 coats of paint. Here's a before and after pic for reference (sorry for the bad lighting!). Hope that helps :). Your chairs are gorgeous. ~Amy
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  • Buttrfluttr Buttrfluttr on Feb 13, 2015
    I have found the closer the weave of fabric, the smoother the end result will be. For example, a close weave cotton fabric will end up with a near leather-like feel after painting with latex or acrylic/textile medium mix while a velvet will resemble course canvas. Chalk paint gives great coverage-I prefer to add textile medium to chalk paint as it seems to help with a softer overall finish. Keep the paint watered down and consider sanding between coats. Sanding is a nuisance but I feel gives a better finish and well worth it. Good luck!
    • Shari Shari on Feb 13, 2015
      @Buttrfluttr I wondered if/how chalk paint and fabric medium would work together but in all the tutorials I have seen, no one has mentioned that combination. Glad to know someone has tried it and actually prefers it. Do you use wax as a final step too?
  • Buttrfluttr Buttrfluttr on Feb 13, 2015
    Hi Shari, yes finish off with a soft wax, it will help soften the end result and give a protective coating too. Have you tried using latex/acrylic paint and textile medium? You may prefer the finish to chalk paint. Perhaps you could use the underside of a cushion to see which paint works best for this furniture piece. Good luck and please keep us updated! I'd love to see a pic when you are done! Have fun!!
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    • Jo Baxter Jo Baxter on Dec 11, 2017

      Sorry to impose but I keep hearing about finishing furniture with a soft wax and I am completely lost as to where to find this or what exactly to look for. This sounds silly but I actually used toilet ring gaskets made of paraffin wax to coated canvas that was going to be outdoors to waterproof it, and I know it made it rather stiff so where can I find this wax you're referring to? Is there a brand you would specifically recommend? Thank you so much! Oh my goodness, aren't those chairs beautiful!

  • Susan Susan on Apr 25, 2015
    Yes, textile medium definitely keeps the fabric just need to put on one thin coat at the time.
  • Diane Read Diane Read on Apr 27, 2015
    I just finished a chair for my bedroom and I used fabric medium and the chair still came out stiff. I sanded between each coat and still it felt stiff to the touch. After the final coat it now feels sort of like leather. It is not a chair that will be sat in every day more decorative in my room.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 14, 2024

    Why not do a few practice runs using different recipes. Keep a note and use the one you like the finish of best.