DIY Fabric Chair Makeover... With Paint!

DIY Fabric Chair Makeover... With Paint!

One of the most exciting qualities of Chalkworthy™ Antiquing Paint is its ability to makeover fabric and upholstery.  So, we went on a mission to find the perfect fabric chairs to rescue & relove.


The Befores:


We stumbled upon the yellow wingback chair at a Goodwill FOR ONLY $4!  It had tears, stains, and a sagging cushion, but for such a low cost we saw a lot of potential.

The second chair we found hiding on the 7th floor of our office building, covered in 20 year old dust.  We loved its midcentury build, but the fabric was grungy and drab.

With two opposing styles of chairs in desperate need of makeovers, we were ready to get our hands (and clothes) covered in paint!


To paint a fabric chair, here’s what you need:


Sneak Peak of the chair transformations:


  • Pick a non-shedding, low pile fabric or upholstery to paint.
  • Prep by cleaning surfaces and tape off any areas you do not wish to paint.
  • Use a spray bottle to wet fabric until damp but not dripping wet.
  • Pour roughly 20% water directly into your paint and mix and apply thin coats.  Your paint+water mixture should be about the thickness of tomato soup.
  • The thicker the fabric, the more thin layers may need to be applied.  Allow your thin coats to dry to the touch between each layer you apply.
  • Use #300 grit or finer sand paper if any fabric fuzzies or small paint clumps need smoothing.
  • Re-apply more thin paint coats if needed until surface is fully coated.
  • *Important – This is not a dye, so the paint will alter your final result causing your fabric to feel fairly still but still functional.  It will have a similar feeling to vinyl or outdoor furniture fabric. 
  • Test on a small hidden area of your upholstery or fabric if curious of final outcome.
  • If you choose to smooth your surface down with sand paper, be sure to thoroughly wipe away sanding debris.

Chair Makeover #1:  From stained to sleek


Dampening your chair prior to painting will help Chalkworthy™ more effectively soak in to the fabric.



Pour paint in to a bowl or container +  Add roughly 20% water  +  Stir until evenly mixed




Start painting!




Your first coat will be streaky- not to worry!  It is best to apply multiple thin coats over fabric.




Because we used such a dark color, it only took us 2 coats– but depending on your color choice, you may need to apply 3-4 coats.




Once the chair was fully painted in CastIron and completely dry, we sealed the surface with a VERY thin layer of our Clear Soft Wax. Wax is optional. The wax provides water durability and makes cleaning the fabric easier.  It also made the fabric look like expensive leather! Please note, the wax can be flammable-- avoid open flames or ash near fabric. 




Apply the Clear Soft Wax with a brush or lint-free cloth, working the wax into the paint and removing any excess as you go.


After 3 days, use an old t-shirt or rag and wipe down the entire surface of your painted upholstery.  If the surface still feels tacky or if you notice paint or waxy residue on the rag, this indicates you accidentally applied too much wax. Just wipe down again and let cure for an extra day or two.  



After covering the stains, we no longer mind the a small patches of tearing– now it looks distressed in a purposeful way rather than neglected.




The finished project!  Not bad for a $4 chair and a little bit of paint.

On to the next chair..


Chair Makeover #2: From Plain to Patterned



We wanted to create a bold look for our second chair makeover, so we decided to paint on our own funky print!  First we followed the same initial steps: sprayed down the chair, mixed water+paint, and applied a full coverage base coat of WhiteLinen to the chair.




Then, we made our own moon-shape stencil out of cardboard and traced on the pattern with a pencil.



After all the moon shapes were traced on to the fabric, we filled them in with CastIron using a small flat artist brush.



We choose not to wax our painted midcentury chair due to its loosely woven fabric.  So once the moons were dry, the chair was complete!



BAM! It’s hard not to fall in love with this fun new conversation piece.


Using paint to makeover a chair is such an easy and quick way to personalize your furniture to match your unique style.  Why spend hours shopping for the “perfect piece” only to end up settling, when you can create an original design that’s exactly what you want?!


Go dust off that imperfect chair that you don’t know what to do with, and start painting!



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