Painting fabric furniture is so much fun and way easier than reupholstering not to mention less expensive. This project started as a conversation with my hairdresser. We both have a love for color and pretty things. What hairdresser doesn’t love color, right? Well, we immediately knew after a brief conversation that painting a couch was the perfect idea for her space. We made a few plans, and the hunt was on. It didn’t take her long to find an antique sofa she loved.
This post contains a few affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not charged extra to use any of the links, but any income I make will be used for more fun projects! To see my full disclaimer, click here.
Chalk Mineral Paint is my personal preference but I also love Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® when painting fabric. I find it gives me the best coverage. It will take multiple coats to cover especially if the original color is a darker fabric. Floral patterns also will be more difficult to cover due to the multiple colors.
Latex paint is not recommended for painting fabric on furniture. It leaves a bit of a “crunchy feel” to the fabric and no one wants to sit on stiff fabric. Even using a fabric medium the desired outcome wasn’t up to my standards. The same with acrylic paints.
If the furniture upholstery has visible dirt and grime, you’ll need to have it cleaned before painting. Paint never sticks well to dirt.
What Type Of Fabric Can You Chalk Paint?
It’s important to consider what type of fabric you’re going to be painting. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and leather. These fabrics tend to accept the paint and produce the best results.
If you’re unsure of the type of fabric you’re painting, always do a test spot first.
When you’re ready to paint, be sure to tape off the wood frame of the furniture if you don’t plan on painting the entire piece.
Should I Use A Textile Medium?
If you’re planning on using acrylic paint rather than chalk paint, you will need a textile medium. It’s a clear liquid and when mixed with acrylic paint it will help thin the paint and make it suitable to paint fabric.
In today’s tutorial, we will not be covering this topic.
Painting Fabric Breaths New Life Into Old Sofas
What a beauty! Doesn’t this sofa just make you want to “Curl Up & Dye?” Curl up and dye, you get it? That’s the name of her business! How cute is that?! This was meant to be. This old gal will be living in a beauty salon greeting all the customers as they arrive. What a welcome! But before anyone can curl up and dye on this sofa, we gotta get this sofa painted up and ready for its new home.
- Round Paintbrush (for blending)
- painter’s tape
- pool noodle
- Fine Mist Spray Bottle
- Mermaid Tail chalk mineral paint
- Cotton chalk mineral paint
- Bunker Hill Blue chalk mineral paint
- Driftwood chalk mineral paint
- Turquoise Gilding Wax
- Gold Gilding Wax
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Tack Cloth
- Easy Peasy Spray Wax (to seal the paint)
- Gold Leaf
- Modern Master Master Clear Coat
Preparing The Fabric For Multiple Coats Of Paint
Before applying the chalk paint to the fabric, there’s one thing I did that made all the difference in the finish. I dampened the fabric with a spray bottle of water to allow the fibers to open before painting. Opening the fibers allows the paint to get deep into the fabric and allows the fabric to accept the paint better.
How To Chalk Paint Upholstery
I lightly misted over the fabric in small areas as I painted. This also dilutes the paint, and it becomes more like a dye. Dixie Belle Paint is highly pigmented, and it works well when painted with a darker colour on fabric furniture. In my opinion, lighter-colored paint should always be used on lighter-colored fabric for the best results.
It’s best to apply a light coat of paint with a good quality paint brush and allow it to dry thoroughly. This can take overnight or longer due to the additional water that is used to dampen the fabric. Be sure to get into the creases, pleats, buttons, nooks, and crannies if you have them. I used a pool noodle (not shown in the photos) to hold the cushions apart while I painted between the back and the seat. Let me tell you, removable cushions are so much easier.
After the first coat is dry lightly sand with fine grit sandpaper. It’s important to sand between each coat of paint to keep the fabric soft and supple. Remove any dust with a soft cloth. Old T-shirts work great too.
The second coat of paint was applied in the same fashion with sanding after it was dry. The dry time for the second coat was about 24 hours. I wanted to make sure all the water had evaporated from the fabric.
The third and final coat of chalk paint was applied for full coverage but the texture of the fabric was still visible. It wasn’t bad but something to think about before choosing the sofa you’re painting.
You would want a smoother fabric if you plan on using a stencil in your design.
To seal the painted fabric, apply 2-3 coats of Easy Peasy Spray wax. It’s a clear wax in a spray bottle.
Lightly spray over the paint with the first coat and buff it with a soft cotton cloth. Allow ample time for drying between coats as directed on the product. It’s super easy to apply and works great on other chalk painted projects too.
Detailing The Painted Wood
The color Bunker Hill Blue was stippled on over the Mermaid Tail only on the wood parts of the sofa. I liked the way the Mermaid Tail peeked through the base coat. It kind of looked chippy, and that’s always a great look in my book. Afterward, I added gilding wax to the details to make them stand out. I applied it with my fingertips. No special tools are needed. Quick and easy.
Applying Metal Leaf
And those legs! They were just screaming for some Gold Leaf. CLICK HERE to get all the details of how to apply this magical stuff to almost anything.
Painting Fabric Furniture Changed Everything
I love the contrast of the Teal and Navy with the gold accents. A sofa fit for a queen! The fabric now has a soft leather-like feel. And it’s NOT CRUNCHY!
Can you paint upholstery on a couch or loveseat? That would be a yes with reservations. I don’t think I would try this with a piece that gets a lot of traffic but if you want to make a statement in a room that gets little usage, go for it.
I hope this has inspired you to try painting fabric furniture. So many old pieces that are “dyeing” for a makeover. As always, I would love to know that you stepped by. Let me know what you think about this makeover in the comment section or just say hi. Happy painting!
Until the next project… xo, Do