How to Chalk Paint Fabric.

It's summer and although I've been my usual busy self, I feel as if I've done nothing of any worth. Do you ever get that feeling? That said, my bedroom makeover is almost finished with the walls painted and some second hand designer curtains on their way from eBay. The luxurious bedroom of my dreams is soon to be mine. There is one element that I had planned to use in the bedroom which will now find a spot in our living room. A wonderful yellow chair. Yes, yellow again. What can I say? I had some paint left over. And now that a few months have passed and we have been able to fully test the durability of Chalk painted upholstery, I am happy to share the results of this incredibly cheap upholstered chair makeover.

Once again in the dark of the night driving home from work I spotted and small but perfectly formed armchair sat next to the refuse containers. Brakes on and the discarded furniture was load in my car in 30 seconds flat. I can be amazingly quick when I want something. Maybe a little too quick because as I began to drive home the stench of dog wee started to fill the car along with a slight sense of regret over not having taken the time to investigate the state of the piece a little further. Regret not and home we go.


Morning came and time to check over and assess. I saw it had sturdy legs and didn't look likely to fall apart anytime in the next century, so proceeded with a powerwasher clean up to see if the stains in the upholstery could be removed with some elbow grease. Not possible. These stains were ingrained along with fragments of eggshell. Eggshell? Yes, really. I can't even start to speculate why or how it was there, it's just one of those mysteries upcyclers come across. So, I got the bleach out and went crazy scrubbing the grime while singing along to Madonna on the radio.


24 hours later and a still stained but very clean chair was sat out in the early morning sunshine. I had heard about and tried to paint fabric with chalk paint and wondered whether it would be possible on such a large surface area. I had half a can of yellow left over from another project so I promptly started to task of dampening the fabric by generously spraying water all over the areas to be painted. Then came the point of no return. Would painting upholstery actually work? Curiosity took over, and soon I was smothering the fabric in a 50/50 mixture of water and chalk paint. As you can see below the 1st coat was looked quite promising.

My impatience to continue led me to apply the second coat after only 6 hours, luckily the fabric was already bone dry so I sprayed water onto the fabric and applied more chalk paint solution. Why so much water I hear you ask? It's to aid the "dying" process, I've have found that it helps create an overall softer final texture that is more flexible and durable. I have tried chalk painting upholstery without wetting the fabric before each layer of paint and found the texture and finish is more prone to cracking with wear and tear even after sanding. But this may just be me :)
Sanding between coats is also required as it helps even out the surface and opening the pores of the fabric ready for the next coat. You'll also find it softens the paint allowing the fabric texture to come through. I repeated this method for 4 coats to cover the badly stained upholstery with even colour. To sum up the method is spray, paint, dry, sand, repeat.



But wait! I've forgotten the legs. Part of the transformation too, I used paint stripper to get most of the reddish dated wood stain off ready to apply a layer of gold chalk paint followed by slightly aging with sandpaper and lime wax to lighten the gold tone. 

Hurrah! Painting done and on to the wax 24 hours later to allow for any moisture to dry out. I applied two coats of clear furniture wax, one straight after the other, with no need for drying time these were quick final touches. Then wait a day or so for the wax to cure. You can stand and admire your handy work in the meantime with a well deserved cup/glass of ____. (Fill in the blank with your favourite drink.)

As a cheap and easy means to change upholstery, mainly for those of us who don't dare try upholstering anything ourselves, the final product is truly impressive. The fabric takes on a smooth texture quite like imitation leather and is super simple to keep clean. The fantastic result after just a few days of painting is well worth it! This lovely little armchair with its sunny yellow disposition has now taken pride of place in our living room, and it cost the same as a pot of paint. Now that's incredibly thrifty:) The proof is in the pudding as they say, just take a look below..........

...pretty different I'm sure you'd agree! If you are thinking of trying this method out then click and download the image below for fast reference instructions. 

One on word of warning! I've used this on many different upholstery fabrics since, BUT not on Velvet or Corduroy and to be quite honest, I wouldn't like to try as these fabrics tend to soak up a lot of liquid. So always be aware of the fabric you are painting, the density of it and whether it is stain resistant or not. 
Nevertheless don't be afraid to have a go, this is the thrifty upcyclers game changer and I'm sure you'll be delighted with the result.

Happy Upcycling :)

For Lola, without you yellow would have been grey.


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