Painted Fabric Chair

Check out this painted fabric chair makeover with chalk paint. If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to update the look of your furniture, chalk painting fabric is a great option.

Get more painting furniture ideas and tips here.

thrifted chair before painting fabric with chalk paint

Chalk paint is an inexpensive and simple way to give your furniture a new life.

In this guide, we’re sharing how we painted a fabric chair and the tips and tricks we learned along the way.

Painted Fabric Chair Makeover

We bought this chair at the thrift store for only $12 so I could try my hand at chalk painting fabric.

Will it turn out?? Is it worth it?? Let’s find out!

This chair also came with some damage. But I really wanted to leave this wood stained, so I tried my hand at fixing it and staining it to match the wood. You can see the wood stain repair process here.

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Supplies for Chalk Painting Fabric

How to Paint Fabric Furniture

Alright, I was really nervous about this project, so I first tested some paint on the bottom of the cushion.

I brushed on some very watered-down Fusion Mineral Paint on one side and some very watered-down Country Chic Chalk Paint on the other side.

painted the fabric with fusion mineral paint on one side and country chic paint on the other side

Then I let the paint dry until the next day.

The next day I tested the paint on the cushion.

I sanded each of the paints to loosen the fibers, and then I waxed it.

Sanding made the fabric way less stiff, but the Fusion mineral paint on the left still felt stiffer than the Country Chic Paint on the right.

It seemed like the Country Chic Paint side almost felt like the original fabric.

So I decided to use Country Chic Paint for the rest of the project.  

Prepare the Fabric for Paint

Then I cleaned the fabric.

I used this Bissell upholstery cleaner to clean it.

cleaning fabric with Bissell upholstery cleaner before painting

This step isn’t necessary if you have a clean chair to begin with.

Since this chair was thrifted, I wanted to clean it… you never know what people do and what was on this chair.

But it also served to get the fabric wet.

When I have read other tutorials, they usually get the fabric wet first.. so that’s what I did.

I think wetting the fabric helps you use less paint and helps the paint go on thinner. But if you have thinned the paint out a lot, I don’t think you need to get your chair wet.

Chalk Painting Fabric

I mixed up more Country Chic Paint to paint the rest of the chair.

I mixed some Green Fireworks paint with the teal Jitterbug paint, then some leftover Country Chic Paint that I had mixed in this tutorial on how to chalk paint furniture… oh and some black Liquorice paint too.

I have no idea how much of each I mixed in… I just mixed until I liked the color.

I added a bunch of water to the paint, maybe 50% water?

And then I brushed it onto the chair.

I started with my favorite Zibra round brush, but I ended up painting the chair with the 3” trim paintbrush. It was so much easier to get into the cracks with the straight-angled brush.

using zibra round and trim paintbrushes to paint fabric with chalk paint

Check out this post to learn more about the best paintbrush for painting furniture.

Painting the fabric was easy until I had to get into the welting and the cracks. That was a pain in the rear.

I didn’t tape off the wood. I just wiped the paint off with a wet rag within a few seconds of it getting on the wood.

Then I let the paint dry until the next day, and here’s what it looked like.

showing uneven paint on fabric after drying the next day

You can still see the different colors of fabric because the paint was really watered down…

Also, I didn’t mix up enough paint, so I had to make more… And since I didn’t have the exact measurements from the first batch, I just mixed something similar.

And then, I painted another coat on all of the fabric, for a total of 2 coats of paint.

And then I let it all dry again until the next day.

How long does Chalk Paint take to dry on fabric?

Chalk Painted Fabric takes anywhere from 12-24 hours to dry in average weather conditions.

If you leave it out in the sun, it will dry within a few hours. But if it’s humid and wet and cold, it will take at least 24 hours to dry.

My fabric was dry within 24 hours. It dried in a climate-controlled basement that was about 70 degrees.

Is Painted Fabric Stiff?

Yep!

Painted fabric is stiff because the paint changes the way the fabric fibers lie.

The paint fills in the spaces between the fibers, and when it dries, it hardens and shrinks. This makes the fabric less flexible and more difficult to move.

To make the fabric soft again, I sanded it with 220-grit sandpaper.

sanding chalk painted fabric to make it soft again

I think I might have sanded more than I needed to, though.

Then I vacuumed all of the dust up.

It all felt soft at this point, almost as soft as the original fabric was.

How Do You Seal Chalk Paint on Fabric?

But I couldn’t just leave the chalk paint all sanded like this.

Chalk paint is porous. So, anything that gets on it will soak in fast and stain it.

So I brushed some soft wax all over the paint.

waxing the chalk painted fabric with real milk paint soft wax

This real milk paint soft wax is my favorite wax, and it was easy to brush on with a brush that I use only for waxing.

The wax made the color even deeper, but where I had sanded too much, you could see the white from the fabric.

visible white lines on the side of the chair due to sanding

I thought they were just sanding marks that would go away once I sealed it since paint looks white sometimes when you sand it.

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out! I love the worn look of the painted fabric, and I am obsessed with how good the wood repair turned out!

You can also watch the Video of this Makeover below.

I don’t love the lines on the side of the chair that were created when I sanded the paint… They are right where the edge of a piece of wood is. I wish I would have painted those lines and then lightly sanded that area again.

Painting the cracks and crevices of the fabric was the hardest part. But I would do it again if it meant saving a few hundred bucks on a chair.

What do you think of the new look? Let me know in the comments!

chalk painted fabric chair after the makeover
close up look of the chalk painted fabric
close up look of the wood stain repair on the chair's leg

Best Paint for Fabric Chairs

From my little test, chalk paint was the best option for painting fabric. It was less stiff than the mineral paint.

I have also tested acrylic General Finishes Milk Paint on fabric, and it worked as well. But I didn’t have the color I wanted for this chair, so I tested the Mineral paint and the chalk paint.

I have seen others use latex paint with a fabric softener. But I haven’t felt the fabric in person.

Does the Wax Rub Off When You Sit in the Chair?

I rubbed a white cloth on the chair the day after I waxed it, and yes, after scrubbing at the cushion, the rag had some blue on it.

But, the wax didn’t have time to dry, let alone cure.

I have worn dark clothes while sitting in the chair, and I haven’t seen any oils left on my clothes after just sitting.

I personally would wait at least 30 days before sitting in the chair with white clothes on. And I would test it with a white rag that I don’t care about getting a little dirty.

Is the Fabric Stiff?

I’ll be honest. I don’t think the fabric is as flexible and soft as it was before I painted it.

But it isn’t stiff as a board either.

This particular fabric was a heavier fabric to begin with as well.

If you are wanting the most comfortable chair, painting the fabric probably isn’t the best option for you.

But, if you’re looking for a cheap option to update an ugly chair, I think painting it is a great option.

Chalk Painting Fabric

painting a fabric chair with chalk paint

Chalk paint can be a great way to add color and pattern to fabric. Here's how to chalk paint fabric.

Instructions

    1. Prepare for paint by vacuuming and cleaning the fabric or getting it wet.
    2. Brush the chalk paint on the fabric, getting into the crevices and cracks.
    3. Sand the chalk paint to make the fabric flexible.
    4. Vacuum the fabric.
    5. Brush wax onto the chalk paint to seal it.
    6. Let the paint and wax dry for 30 days so it can cure.

Recommended Products

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2 Comments

  1. Bonnie Simpson says:

    Question: I have painted one chair but it was not that old. I have another I plan to do but again, it is not very old either. So, I don’t have to do serious deep cleaning on it plus it was my chair from the start. So on that note, I’m wondering. how clean do you think the Bissell Upholstery Cleaner got on an old chair like that? I would like to redo older awesome chairs but I avoid them because of what might BE IN THEM. Ug! What are your thoughts, Natalie?

    1. Hey Bonnie!
      I feel like the bissell cleaner can clean well… I use it on my carpets all the time with success.
      But, dirt would need to be vacuumed up.
      I don’t know that it will get old stains out, but does that matter if you are painting over them?
      I’m a germaphobe and I feel so much better about sitting in an old used chair if it has been cleaned with the cleaner first.
      I hope that helps!

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