How to Update a Chair with Chalk Paint


Abandoned by it's previous owners for lack of beauty or purpose, I found it outside the refuse containers nearby along with another six chairs. I have a small car so only one of these finds could come home with me. Plus, I didn't have much time to stuff them into the car for risk of being seen by the neighbours and the embarrassment factor that would ultimately follow. Spain has a very materialistic culture these days and I think that many wouldn't understand my reasons for wanting to take and out-of-date dirty chair home.


Nevertheless, I drove around the block three times until I was sure enough that nobody would see me, then in full 'A Team' fashion I leaped out of the car, grabbed/rescued the poor chair and drove off into the sunset. (Quite literally as it was 9 o'clock at night.) Oh, the things you have to do in the name of Frugal DIY.


Back home and assessing my thrifty find. As it's a very odd shape I wasn't quite sure how to treat it. Whether I should paint it/sand then wax it or what colour would be the best. After much thought and a great deal of trawling on Pinterest I realised that the only way to save this chair from a fate worse than firewood, would be a good lick of a light-colour paint. However, I still couldn't decide if I should paint the whole chair or just the legs/back as the original veneer was in pretty good condition. Well, this didn't stop me as great condition or not this chair needed to be modernised and my need to paint something was intense.

A quick rifle around my paint stores, turned out a lovely mustard yellow in the Rustoleum Chalk Paint Range. Not wanting to stay in my comfort zone of painting everything white, I quickly prepared the chair for paint off! 

Materials used
Rustoleum Chalk Paint, Furniture Wax, 1m squared upholstery textile (I used an old cushion cover), Sandpaper (fine), Masking Tape, Multipurpose cleaner, Felt pads.

Tools used: Anti-static cloth, Screwdriver, Upholstery stapler and staples, Paint brush, Wax brush, Lint free cloth.

What I did:

  • Prepare.
  • Clean the chair thoroughly making sure there are no remains of grease or dirt.
  • Un-screw and take off the padded seat part to be reupholstered later. Keep the screws safe to fix the seat back on later, I usually Sellotape them together so none are lost.
  • Tape off the legs at the point where you'd like the painted area to stop.
  • Lightly sand the area you are going to paint. Even with chalk paint I recommend this step as the finished product is smoother as chalk paint isn't self-levelling like standard Enamel paint.
  • Clean again with a damp cloth to remove any excess dust and debris.
Paint (The point in the process when I start to get nervous, the point of no return! Luckily with chalk paint it's very easy to quickly wash off, if you are unsure about the colour. 😅)
  • Start to paint using light strokes from top to bottom, making sure to notice any dripping that any occur on the other sides. For example, painting the inner parts of the back where there are narrow surfaces, etc.
  • Paint with the grain. When you look at the chair, even though it's not high quality wood it still had a grain. Be respectful to this and the overall finish  will benefit.
  • After the 1st coat has dried, very lightly sand the paint work to diminish any brush marks. This is important as painting over them would amplify the effect and leave you with an uneven paint work.
  • Apply the second coat using the same light tip of the brush technique as before. This time the coverage should be complete. If not then wait for the paint to dry and re sand and coat with another layer of paint. This is likely to happen if you are painting a light colour over dark wood.



Wax (Almost finished. It's looking great but take your time with the next steps, it will be worth it.)

  • Once dry, take off the tape and clean off any remaining sticky material. Now it's time to wax, following the grain of the wood once more apply an even layer over the whole chair painted and unpainted parts and leave to dry for 5 minutes. 
  • Then take lint free cloth or any other that won't leave any fibres and softly rub to obtain a natural shine.
  • If you can leave the waxed furniture a week before using then do so, this allows for the wax to harden properly.



Upholstery (So happy with the framework, I'd forgotten the seat! Make sure the coats of paint on the fabric dry completely before applying another, and always spray water to dampen the fabric slightly before each coat. Sounds contradictory but it works.)

  • Remove the old fabric and if possible any staples from the base. Keep the padding for later if it's in as good condition as mine was. 
  • Clean off the base thoroughly removing any dirt or marks.
  • Replace the padding and place face down on top of the new fabric.
  • Take the staple gun and carefully pull the fabric and staple to the base making sure that it is pulled tight and even in all areas.
  • Cut off any spare material and turn over.
  • I wanted mine to be the same colour as the chair so I applied 3 coats of chalk paint and water mixed 50-50 then once dry I applied 2 coats of furniture wax.
  • Place the finished seat on the wooden frame and screw back into place.

Stand back and admire workmanship, give yourself a pat on the back and have a glass of wine. 
Well done you!

OK, so let's be honest when you read all the instructions it seams like a lot of work but really it's just a few steps to your own work of art. Having said that, for my next project I think I will be looking into different paint categories to see if there is any other products which will perform better. Chalk paint is amazing, I have to be honest! It has been my go to product for a while now, but it does have the disadvantage in terms of finish and in some cases durability. That said, this lovely yellow chair is now in the care of my 2 year-old son and is still in great shape after 3 months of rough and tumble. 



All things considered, you can certainly paint furniture using chalk paint on both the wooden surfaces and fabric and give any piece a great new personalised look. It's a cheap as I only used a 1/4 of a can of paint, quick, non-toxic, easy way to brighten up an old chair, that will recieve complements from family and friends for years to come.
Give it a go!




Have a great weekend!











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