How I Painted a Fabric Chair

A pink fabric chair painted

How I Painted a Fabric Chair

Yes I did say Fabric Chair and Paint!

I also purposely did not call this ‘How to Paint a Chair’, because to be quite honest a lot of the process was referencing Insta stories, YouTube and good old fashioned winging it 🤷‍♀️.

So here is poor patient X. I won this very basic Tub Chair in a raffle when I was a student. Its pretty in-offensive and it works well, but when I painted the sitting room it looked particularly dowdy.

I considered buying a cover, but they all looked like moo-moos and I wasn’t confident I could make one myself. My sewing skill are improving but not quite there yet.

I was strolling through instagram and came across and account called Paint the Town Pastel and this super lady had a painted fabric ottoman. Her grid is one of the most satisfying I’ve ever seen. She was re-doing her bedroom and she painted her fabric bed base and it looked surprisingly un-complicated. I had nothing to lose with the Chair so figured I’d try.

The General Gist

Paint the Town Pastel has a walk through in her stories that is well worth a watch if you are considering painting fabric, so I would highly recommend watching that.

What I did figure out as I went along was this:

  • It is ‘normal’ paint. I used Optiva, (Tikkirula) I had left over from a different job, its essentially a wall emulsion. I didn’t buy fabric paint.
  • The real trick is keeping the fabric wet and the paint as watery as possible, for as long as possible. Keeping the fabric damp is key
  • It takes ages to dry due to the fact the fabric has to dry out as well as the paint
  • Different fabrics will have a different result. My chair was very tough to start with, so it feels quite ‘pleathery’ now, a softer fabric would absolutely respond differently.
  • You will have to sandpaper and this is bizarre.

What I did

The first coat took ages and I very much questioned my decision. My mistake was that I didn’t keep the fabric as damp as I should have and didn’t water the paint enough. I was using my spray bottle but on the next layers I was much heavier handed. I also didn’t make as much as an effort to keep the paint watery. So I used a lot more paint than I needed and I got a much ‘thicker’ coat than I should have.

It was really hard then so I knew from Paint the Town Pastel that I would need to sandpaper. I tried hand sanding but it wasn’t having the desired result, and also it was taking too long, so I moved to the electric sander, grit 80.

For the second coat I thought, (wrongly) that I got a system. I put the paint on and then dipped the brush in water to sort of spread it out. It looked great wet, but as you can see from the picture, really patchy results when it dried.

By the later coats I had a system.

Drench the fabric with a spray bottle. I had also added Fabric Conditioner to the water, another Paint the Town Pastel tip.

I wet the brush in a bowl of water, took on some paint, another water dip, and that was the paint. After a couple of layers it really got much easier to layer up as well.

And a good sand in between coats.

Eventually I felt there were as many layers as needed, and painted the feet.

And the End Result?



And Hows It Holding Up?

So it is holding up well!

I did spray it with a can of water resistant scotch spray for a bit of protection.

There was a ‘light marker incident’ and it was wiped off. There is some creasing which I think is due to the stiffness of the fabric.

But in general for a DIY that I managed with old paint from the shed, I am very happy!

Get In Touch

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I would LOVE to hear from you.