Painting Upholstery - Juniper Home

Painting Upholstery

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I tried upholstery spray paint years ago with pretty good results, and I’ve been wanted to try painting upholstery with a brush for a while too. I got a pair of little white swivel club chairs a few months ago for $30 for the pair. I love the shape of the arms, but the fabric was pretty dingy and old. I knew I would want to reupholster these eventually, but I didn’t know what room they’d go in and I wanted to wait to choose a color/pattern. These felt like the perfect candidate for painting the upholstery.

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I followed these instructions and used textile medium and Valspar paint from Lowes which is actually acrylic paint. The color I chose was Sunburst Orange from Benjamin Moore. It’s a bright, fun coral that’s perfect for accent chairs.

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The basic idea is you mix textile medium with really, really watered down acrylic paint (so you can buy craft paint if you don’t have a huge surface area to cover like I did with two chairs). You spray the upholstery with a water bottle and then softly brush on the paint mixture.

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You have to do several coats with drying time in between and you sort of have to find that sweet spot of even coverage and not too crispy from the paint. These chairs are a little stiff, but if you use a sanding block to knock off any uneven bumps and to loosen up the paint a little, it ends up feeling sort of like canvas. Not exactly like silk velvet, but not too bad.
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I wouldn’t do this with special chairs that you’re going to sit in all the time or a primary use sofa, but it’s a perfect option for accent chairs or (and maybe especially!) dining chair seats.


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Have you tried painting any of your upholstery? How did it work out for you? I’d love to see any links if you’ve posted about it.
What did you think?
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52 thoughts on “Painting Upholstery

  1. This looks great! I love how you can still see the chevron texture. I tried painting my own chair about two years ago ( and am currently in the process of reupholstering the same chair. I don't think I wet my chair enough or painted thin enough coats. Otherwise, I feel like this is always a great project for when you're waiting on enough money or the right fabric for a reupholstery job.

  2. Beautiful. Thank you for the tips.

    I painted a chair. ugh, I made a huge mess. Best to scrub areas that might be greasy like where the head rests and the top of the arms first with dish liquid, rinsing well. I set the chair up right too soon. The paint migrated darker towards the seat. Not a bad look though.

  3. I painted (this same tutorial!) a pair of wingback chairs of my mom's…took them from 90's-hunter-green to a more updated peacock blue. Worked so well! Right on about the texture, kind of rough and canvas-y feeling…but works just fine for the chairs. We added a throw pillow for the comfort factor and all was well.
    Did the spray fabric paint cover well? I've been curious about using it, but didn't want to have to buy 60 cans to cover a square foot, ifyouknowwhatImean.

    Love that bright coral colour!

  4. I went a slightly different direction, in that I used fabric paint. I bought a vintage sofa, burn tested the fabric and determined it was mercinized cotton, and then went to town painting. I used a heat gun to set the paint. It's been a year, and we love it. No change to the fabric texture, the pattern shows through. It looks to me like washed silk, which is kinda what I was going for.

  5. I had no idea one could paint upholstery. What a fantastic way to be able to use something until you know what to do with it. I love the orange color you chose. It looks great! Thanks for the instructions on how to do it.

  6. I am in the process of painting two vintage velvet club chairs I bought for $25 at the Goodwill (this is going to be temporary until I can afford to have them reupholstered professionally); but so far, it's turning out well ( I'm using Sherwin Williams dark night)

    1. I want to paint mt velvet couch but am afraid it will be too stiff. How are your chairs?

  7. How fun, I have never heard of this! It seems like it would be perfect for a bench in a hallway or something that wouldn't get tons of traffic. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I saw a blog post some time ago where a sofa was painted black. It had a great looking decorative wooden frame. It looked fantastic!
    Super chic!

  9. I want o try to paint chairs, YES. I'm actually sharing a project tomorrow where I painted curtains with really watered down Valspar paint and fabric medium for a watercolor effect. I tried it without even knowing that it is acrylic paint. I thought it was latex as well. Learned something new.
    And I'm glad that it is acrylic because that's what you actually need for fabric medium ;) perfect. Thanks.

  10. um THIS is an amazing idea! You're right- an accent chair or something not being sat in all the time would be perfect! I can't wait to try it!

  11. After ten seconds of your website loading, I was redirected to a Twix that said, "returning to content in 39 seconds." I felt like I was on Hulu or something. Not the kind of vibe you'd expect for a blogger.

  12. Agree with this article, very informative. We can make our Upholstery looks like new by just changing fabric. Fabric quality and colors are also very important. I have just visited Rana Textiles Mills website and found beautiful and quality oriented fabric for upholstery over there. You can Buy Best Upholstery Fabric from here.

  13. I Love the Diy idea and this post is providing so much inspiration but if you dont have time for DIY like me, you should check out It is a design service that helped me find the right pieces of furniture to make my house look amazing.

  14. Wow! This is fantastic. Beautiful color choice and color combination. Loved the gray pillows. Trying upholstery painting is definitely next on my list. Thanks for sharing!

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