Did you know that you can paint upholstery using chalk paint? And the results will be great!
For years I held on to two upholstered chairs that had seen better days. The shape was great and the seat was comfortable but, unfortunately, too many sticky hands had touched each of them and they were impossible to clean. I relegated them to the basement with plans of reupholstering them. When the reupholster’s quote came in at approximately $500 per chair, I realized it made no sense to pay more to fix them than the initial purchase price. Still, I held on to the chairs hoping to do something with them. Fast forward to this past summer. On a trip to Target, I spied chalk paint on sale (Devine Color by Valspar Chalky Finish Paint). I had read some articles about painting upholstery with chalk paint and figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. Worst case scenario it wouldn’t work and I would throw the chairs out.
Through trial and error, I ended up with a magnificent end product. Each time I see these chairs in my living room I can’t believe that they are the same chairs. Six months after painting them I can report that they are holding up unbelievably well. They are comfortable to sit on, even though the fabric has a stiffer feel to it, and are as beautiful to look at as the day they were done!
Chalk paint upholstery
What you will need:
Drop cloth and rags
Chalk paint in color of your choice (Annie Sloane or any other brand)
Paint pan or another container
Spray bottle with water
2” wide and thin paintbrushes
How to do it:
- Lay a drop cloth on the floor and place the chair on top. Cover chair legs with painter’s tape so that they don’t get paint on them. (Set up an out-of-the-way area as this project will involve significant drying time. A basement or garage is an ideal workspace.)
- Mix the paint and pour into a paint pan or other container. I used a disposable 1-quart deli container; it’s easy to hold and you can cover it during the project so your paint doesn’t dry out. Pour an equal amount of water in. (I found that a 1:1 ratio of water to paint worked best but you can adjust if you find that it’s too watery.) Stir well.
- Working in sections, spray the upholstery with water and then paint over the damp area. The saturated fabric makes the paint go on easily. Spray and then paint the entire chair; try to paint in the direction of the fabric’s weave and/or in the same direction the whole time. Use the smaller paintbrush to push the paint into all folds and crevices. Lift up fabric under and around any trim to make sure that all the upholstery gets painted. The first coat will look very streaky.
- Let dry.
- Paint on a second coat. Let dry. Paint on a third coat and let dry. I found that my chairs needed three coats but yours may only need two.
- Heat set the paint by leaving outside in the sun for a few hours, which is what I did, or by ironing it.
Note: The project was really easy to execute but time-consuming as you need to wait a number of hours for each coat of paint to dry. I painted it over three consecutive days. Additionally, the fabric will feel different after being painted. It has a more leathery feel to it but is still very comfortable.
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