How To Paint Fabric With Chalk Paint

Fabric on furniture can become faded, stained, or simply outdated. But you can easily transform your fabric pieces with a fun and trendy technique! Check out how to paint fabric with chalk paint with this step by step tutorial and this MCM fabric chair. It makes it feel like leather!

Yes, chalk painting fabric is possible so follow this guide to create a new and fresh look for your fabric furniture.

Fabric chair before painting with chalk paint

I was in need of a new chair for my living room. I found this great mid-century modern chair on Facebook Marketplace for $30.

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It was in like-new condition and I couldn’t pass it up. So I quickly messaged the seller and purchased this one.

If you want to know the best places to get good furniture for cheap, check out my post to find out.

Once I got it into my space I felt it gave off that “waiting room” feeling. I still loved the chair, but I wasn’t crazy about the color.

Reupholstery is a costly service and I didn’t feel confident enough to take on that task.

I was familiar with the process of painting fabric with chalk paint, but I had never tried it. So I figured why not paint it!? Worst case scenario is that I mess it up and I’m out -$30.

Supplies Used to Paint Fabric with Chalk Paint

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Supplies for painting fabric with chalk paint

Here are the steps I took to go from a boring gray fabric to a clean classic look…

Check out the best white chalk paint for furniture here.

Clean Fabric on Chair

As you can see in the picture, my fabric was pretty new and clean, but if this is not the case for you, I recommend vacuuming the fabric and spot clean.

This is an awesome upholstery cleaner/vacuum that is really good at cleaning upholstery.

How to Paint Fabric with Chalk Paint

After your fabric has been cleaned, mist the surface with a fine mist water bottle. You do not want your surface soaked, but you also don’t want to directly paint on the dry fabric.

We are trying to recreate the process of dying the fabric, so you want your paint layers thin. Thick layers of paint will lead to a hard fabric that will be prone to cracking.

You will want to dilute your chalk paint slightly and keep your fine mist water bottle nearby.

Check out my honest Dixie Belle Paint review here.

Once your fabric has been misted, you will want to begin applying your diluted paint. Do one coat and allow it to fully dry.

One coat of chalk paint on fabric chair

Now this is the moment you might freak out a bit and think “Oh my gosh it’s ruined!” WARNING it will feel scratchy and that’s okay, just move on to the next step.

When you sand between each coat you are knocking down all those scratchy pieces, so by the end you should have a smooth surface. I use a 220 grit sanding sponge for this step.

Now you will repeat Step 2 (mist surface, paint, dry & sand). On this particular chair, it took 4 coats of paint.

Painting a fabric chair with chalk paint and brush

When you are trying to cover a darker color with a lighter color, it will take more coats than it would when covering a light color with a dark color.

Just be patient. The finished product is worth all the thin layers of paint.

How to Seal Chalk Paint on Fabric

After you have all of your coats of paint applied and you are happy with the saturation of the color, you can seal your piece. Be sure you have thoroughly sanded prior to applying the wax.

I use Dixie Belle’s Easy Peasy Spray Wax for my painted fabric. It is the perfect product for fabric because it applies in thin layers. And it is in liquid form, unlike your typical furniture waxes.

When I seal my fabric I spray the Easy Peasy Spray Wax onto the surface and buff it into the surface with a rag until I can’t feel that waxy residue anymore.

It doesn’t take much buffing and you can apply a second coat if you feel the first layer didn’t apply evenly.

I kept this chair for my own home and it gets a lot of use. The finished texture feels a lot like leather. It is smooth to touch and slick; not rough at all.

Check out another painted fabric chair makeover here.

Closeup of finished MCM chair makeover with chalk paint
Full shot of fabric chair painted with chalk paint

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

My kids were skeptical of the idea of painting our chair and felt the fabric in the middle of the process.

My 5-year-old was extremely upset with how scratchy it was, but once I fully completed the chair she was thrilled with how nice it felt and looked.

It now feels like it should belong in our home, rather than in a doctor’s office. Here are more mid century modern painted furniture to get inspiration from.

How to Maintain Painted Fabric Furniture

Keep your painted fabric furniture looking fresh and clean by regularly vacuuming or spot cleaning any stains. You can also use a fabric cleaner or upholstery cleaner, making sure to follow the instructions on the label. I haven’t personally used a fabric cleaner, so proceed with caution and test out an inconspicuous area first.

To avoid any damage or discoloration, make sure not to expose your painted fabric furniture to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Sunlight can cause the paint to fade over time.

If you have pets, use a lint roller or brush to remove any fur or hair from the fabric. It’s also a good idea to cover your furniture with a sheet or blanket when pets are using it to minimize damage from claws or paws.

How to Paint Fabric with Chalk Paint

Chalk painted fabric on a MCM chair

We painted this MCM fabric chair to give it a new look. Here's how to paint fabric with chalk paint!


  1. Clean the fabric on the chair by vacuuming and using upholstery cleaner.
  2. After your fabric has been cleaned, mist the surface with a fine mist water bottle. Dilute your chalk paint slightly as well.
  3. Once your fabric has been misted, begin applying your diluted paint. Do one coat and allow it to fully dry.
  4. Sand between each coat of painted fabric, mist, paint, sand and repeat. It can take up to 4 coats of thin layers of paint.
  5. Seal the fabric with wax. Be sure you have thoroughly sanded prior to applying the wax. Buff wax into the surface with a rag until you can’t feel that waxy residue.
  6. Enjoy your transformed piece!

Recommended Products

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More Chalk Paint Resources

This makeover was created by Eryn Garcia with Breath of Life Design. Eryn has a passion for breathing life into furniture and interior spaces. She was born and raised in Texas and graduated from Texas A&M in 2016 with a degree from the College of Architecture. She lives with her husband and three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1. She is a stay-at-home mom that decided she needed a creative outlet and began refinishing furniture. Follow along to see more of her work and some behind the scenes into her life…

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white chalk painted fabric chair with how to paint fabric using chalk paint text
MCM fabric chair makeover

One Comment

  1. Barbarann. Fagley says:

    I have a question: I painted a client’s 2 recliners – they were built with a lot of difficult places to paint. the client picked up Rustoleum chalk paint, because they had the color she liked. The first coat was properly painted but when I lightly sanded and wiped, some paint came off. I waited quite a long time between coats. The second coat did the same thing – once dried, sanded and wiped with soft white cloth and did the same when i added Easy Peasy Wax. I called rustoleum and their chalk paint is not to be used on fabric. Yikes. So I sanded the best I could, then applied Dixie Bell – mist, paint, sand, (2 coats) and then Easy Peasy – waited good length of time for each coat to dry – it still came off on white cloth after being painted 4 weeks. I share this with you so that you know not to use rustoleum.

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