Gail's Nest · Refashion

Painting an Upholstered Chair


So I had this old chair that my husband picked up (he actually picked up two of them) for only a few dollars each. They had been chairs that sat in a waiting room of a doctor’s office or something, and as you can see, are of the most drab gold colored fabric. When I was painting the ceiling of the room this chair was in, I stood on it and managed to dribble paint. Well, that was that. Something needed to be done or I was going to have to throw it out.

In researching online what I could possibly do to rescue this chair, I came across instructions on painting upholstery. Could I do it? Does it not rub off on your pants when you sit down? Does it not get crackly? The consensus out there was: YES I could do it. NO it does not rub off, and NO it doesn’t get crackly. So off I went to the paint store.

I bought a chalk paint in a pale mint color that I thought would be a more updated look. And began to work.

First, I “painted” a section with just water, getting the fabric damp. Then I watered down my paint so it was pretty dribbly. ThisJpeg felt like it could be messy, but I reminded myself I was “dyeing” the fabric, not really painting it. Then only painting the sections I had wetted, I began to apply the color. When I was done with that section, I repeated the process of wetting the fabric, and applying the color, making sure I got into the chair’s crevices.


As you can see, I taped the chair frame to avoid getting paint on the woodwork. But since the paint is watered down, it sometimes dribbled down the legs. I just kept a wet rag nearby to wipe up my dribbles quickly. But good ol’ Goof Off does a good job getting any residual dried paint off woodwork.

After the first coat dried, I used a #220 sandpaper to sand the paint. Then I put a second coat on, proceeding exactly like the first: wetting sections, painting with watered down paint, etc. Then again, after it dried, I sanded, and put on a third coat.

Lastly, I applied a coat of wax. I used a wax that I got at Walmart. It dried beautifully and sealed in the paint. I am so happy with the results!

So… in summary, here are the steps:

  1. Prep: tape up your woodwork, and pour a little paint into a pan with a little water.
  2. Use a brush to wet down a section.
  3. Paint with the watered down paint.
  4. Wet down another section, and paint that section.
  5. Allow 24 hours to dry.
  6. Sand. Do a second and maybe a third coat.
  7. After the last coat is dry, apply a wax to the fabric.
  8. Take off your tape. Use Goof-Off to take off any residual paint




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