Vintage Couch Makeover With Paint

by Corey
5 Materials
10 Hours

I have seen vintage couches be refurbished many times and the last few I saw had the fabric painted. I thought why can’t I do that?

Painting the fabric of the couch is simple and it saves a lot of time when refurbishing a couch or love seat because you don’t have to reupholster it. Plus a bonus usually you have extra paint on hand so it doesn’t cost very much!

I am going to walk you through step by step of how I refurbished my vintage couch.

I have this vintage couch for a while now but wasn’t sure I was ready to tackle the project. I knew it was going to be difficult and tedious to redo the whole couch. I wasn’t even going to try it until I received the Worx MakerX tool. Once I had the tools I knew I could tackle the project much easier. The multi-tool allowed me to really sand down all the small areas and tight areas of the wood on the couch. Below is the process that I completed making over the couch with paint!

Remove Backing and Hardware

Start taking off the backing, nails or staples, and unwanted fabric from the couch. I chose to remove all backing and keep the front top cushion area to paint. The couch cushions were ripped and torn so I was unable to use them to paint as well.

Paint Couch

In the photo above on the left is two paint samples in green and on the right are two white paint samples. Because the fabric is white it is hard to see the white but it is there.

I used paint I had on hand for the project the green is color Chimmichuri from Benjamin Moore with semi-gloss furniture paint. The white paint swatches on the right are Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Linen white.

To paint the fabric on the couch you need two things. Wet fabric and water-downed paint. You want to dye the fabric more than actually paint it. Watering down the paint and having really wet fabric will make the fibers soak up the color and dye it rather than add a thick layer on top of it.

I took a piece of the fabric off the back of the couch to test paint. Before painting the samples I soaked the fabric with a wet rag.

On the top left and right, I had a ration of 1:5 water to paint. So hardly any water. As you can see it is thicker and once the samples dried it was making the fabric harder and too stiff.

On the bottom left and bottom right I had a ratio of 3:5 water to paint. I little more than half paint and half water. It dried much lighter but was soft to the touch. Dying the fabric and not making it really stiff and hard.

Soak Fabric

Using my rag and bowl of water I then soaked the fabric on the couch. I soaked the entire back and sides that was left.

Paint Fabric

I watered down the paint to the 3:5 ration and painted the fabric with a paint brush. The paint goes right on easily.

Sand Fabric after Paint is Dry

The first coat is on. I did not tape off because I am sanding down the wood after to paint as well.

After waiting 20 minutes for the first coat of paint to dry I sanded the fabric with 120 grit paper. To remove any of the roughness. Doing this will make any thicker areas of paint come off and make it more comfortable for sitting in later on.

Add Second Coat of Paint

After the first sanding is done. You can see that there is a lot of spots that didn’t soak up the fabric. So I did another coat. Let that dry and sanded it one more time. So two coats of paint total.

Close up after the two coats are dry.

After final coat of paint is dry and sanded. You can see there is no white showing through anymore.

Sand Wood

After painting the fabric I went on to sand down the wood to paint green as well.

As you can see in the photo above there are a lot of little crevices and groves to sand down. Luckily I had the  Worx MakerX crafting tool. It came in handy to sand inside these little crevices.

Sand Wood

The Worx MakerX crafting tool combo kit is portable and plugs into a battery making it super easy to take with you and use for multiple types of projects. I used it to sand down inside these little crevices and it worked out great. The size of the precision tool was perfect for this job. 

To use the Worx MakerX you choose between multiple different heads. For this project, I used two different small sanding options. To change them out you pull of the top portion and unscrew the bottom similar to a drill. Changing out pieces only takes seconds.

Once you have your choice all you have to do is plug in the handheld tool into the battery so it is portable. Switch on the power and choose the speed.

The speed range is from slow to really high. The battery lasted for as long as I needed to use the multi-tool!

The Toolkit

A set of Worx MakerX tools to help get the project done.

Paint the Wood

After the sanding was done I painted the wood with the green paint. I used the same paint brush and added to coats.

I chose to distress the wood after with sandpaper to give it some more texture and character. I used a 120 grit sandpaper sheet.

I chose to seal with a wax wood sealer. I wiped on a small amount with a paper towel.

After 15 minutes of drying I wiped off the wax with a microfiber cloth and it was done!

Once it was all done I added cushions. 4 cushions measuring 20x20 fit perfectly!

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  • Linda Linda on Nov 29, 2020

    Tell me the painted fabric is soft.. Hard to believe. Love the seat cushions, where to buy please

    • Corey Corey on Nov 30, 2020

      they are soft, that's why you have to sand them and use thin paint! Cushions are tufted 20x20 inch from Target and they come in multiple colors.

  • Kta69341810 Kta69341810 on Nov 07, 2022

    Another how to do it post on this subject also recommended using fabric softener mixed in with the paint too