how to paint fabric chairs

23 April 2014

Yes, you read that right. I PAINTED some upholstered chairs.
I had seen it done here first and then some great tips here and tucked it away in my maybe-want-to-try-one-day projects, and then I came across a pair of these pink velveteen chairs on a local ad for $30. They were in pristine condition from an estate sale and I HAD to try it.
painted chair before
First up, I removed the skirts on the chairs to show the legs and give them a bit more updated feel. Getting a little sassy here and showing some leg!
remove skirt from a fabric chair
update an old chair
Look at how much better the chair looks already without the skirt!
painting fabric chairs
Then, I took 2 parts textile medium (apparently textile medium is popular in these parts. I had to go to Michael’s, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby to round up 8 bottles) to 2 parts acrylic latex paint in Sherwin Williams Peppercorn
delta textile medium sherwin williams emerald paint
Then, add 1 part water and mix it around with your roller.formula for painting upholstery
And start painting! I was so scared! What on earth had I gotten myself into?? I was very doubtful…
painting upholstery
Apply a coat, let dry. Times 4 for this chair. It would probably work better on a lighter fabric.
After 2 coats: some of that mauve pink still showing through:
how to paint a fabric chair
It took me 4 coats to cover it over about 2 weeks time because I got lazy and kept forgetting them out in the garage. Tip: leave your paint tray, paintbrush and roller in a plastic Ziploc bag in between painting times so you don’t have to clean up each time. Take a fine grit sanding bar and sand between coats to try to soften it a little.
painted upholstered chair
  It comes off much more blue in the below picture.
Verdict --- would I do it again??
Nope. It took a long time and ended up costing about $50 per chair. The fabric medium is spendy, even with coupons. The touch of the chair really isn’t comfortable. Even after sanding, it’s not a soft velvet, but a stiff uninviting feel. I DO think it would be great on a piece like a bench or an ottoman or a chair or sofa if it was barely used. Or maybe a timeout chair? ;) But it’s not something I would curl up in with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite book for a few hours, let’s put it that way.
painted upholstered chairs
They are much more pretty to look at, and you will most likely see them in the new house somewhere, but just wanted to give my thoughts.
Have you ever painted fabric? Do you want to come sit on my stiff chairs?
 photo signature_zps45983bca.jpg


  1. "Do you want to come sit on my stiff chairs?" <--- That definitely made me laugh out loud! Sorry they don't feel great, but I'm thankful for this info! I'd been considering painting some chairs but I think now I'll steer clear. At least they look pretty!

  2. Thank you for your honesty. It was something I seriously considered also. They look fantastic (great paint color choice) but glad to hear they might not be the most comfortable. ha ha!

  3. It's too bad they're not comfortable because they look fantastic. You always amaze me with the energy you have to create. I always love visiting here. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Use Annie Sloan chalk paint. It works like a charm and the fabric isn't stiff when finished.

  5. Well they sure look great! Amazing just what removing the skirt did. I wish they were more comfortable. I envy your daring is something that I do not have. I'm always too afraid to fail.

  6. Thanks for posting! I always wondered if the painted fabric would feel comfy.

  7. They look great! When I started reading your post, I got excited about painting chairs thinking this could be the solution for all those great chairs I come across, but the fabric isn't so great. Oh well, Love how yours look!

  8. they look awesome.. maybe a curtain project?

  9. They look amazing, so it's too bad they are so stiff! But... they would work well in an area where no one really needs to sit! Just to look pretty! I love your blog. It is always a pleasure to see what you're up to.

  10. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I bought a chair I LOVE last summer and have been going back and forth on whether or not to paint the upholstery. It's a beautiful 1950s chair with wood details and matching brown velvet. I recently moved the chair up to my bedroom and now it's my favorite chair to read in. You've helped me decide. If I ever get tired of the current look, I'll pay to get it reupholstered.

  11. Oh, and I love the finished look of your chairs! Peppercorn is one of my favorite Sherwin Williams colors. :)

  12. Thanks for your honest remarks - I had wondered if the finish would be rough.


  13. I think this is so cool that you tried it! They look really good, but good to know that they aren't super comfy.

  14. You are so brave! I really admire your gumption to try something different. It gives me the motivation to tackle a project!

  15. I painted a couch and, like you, would not recommend it. The couch fabric was stiff and awful, and literally crackled every time someone sat on it. The only thing I would do it again on is something like a small upholstered top of a footstool. But even then, it would cost more to paint it than reupholster it. Thanks for you honest opinion!

  16. Hi! I wonder if it turned out so stiff because of the fabric being velvet? I have only painted details on fabric (grain sack stripes) and have had great results with the same medium. I did use chalk paint though and mixed the paint quite thin. I haven't been brave enough to try something more than detail, but I have always had the painted part turn out soft and smooth in the end. I did sand the final coat as well. Too bad you invested all that time and money for it to be a disappointment :0( They look pretty though :0)
    Take care!

  17. I used Rit dye in a spray bottle & a sponge on a couch once. It was the early 90's, we got the couch from an estate sale dirt cheap (no one else bid against us), it was white. My then small children wasted no time getting it dirty & after a year I had had enough. It was stained & I thought I could give it a "splatter" look (remember it was the 90's). I dyed that white couch 3 shades of blue all from 1 bottle of Rit dye. We kept it 2 more years before we could afford new furniture & then a friend asked if she could have it.


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