Painting Fabric with Chalk-Acrylic Paint

So you found a great chair and the upholstery is in good shape, but looks straight up out of the 80’s and not in a good way. What to do, what to do….

Paint that fabric and save that chair!

Before After Chalk Painted Fabric Upholstery Painting fabric with Chalk Acrylic Paint by Shabby Paints.

In a perfect world I would have sent this set off to have been professionally reupholstered for my living room, but until I have $1,900.00 laying around I’m going to make the best of this set.


Since it was filthy and smelly I vacuumed it, then steamed it. Lastly I sprayed it all down with Vinegar and Water to kill germs. Be sure to let it dry for 24 hours. Yes, I’m a bit of a germaphobe. (Did you know that Vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs?  It is also non toxic, pet, children and earth friendly.)

There are many ways to paint fabric and I’ve tried lots of different methods and get great results each time using Shabby Paints.  I think the goal is to find what method and mixture will work best with your type of fabric.  Hopefully this will help you find the best way to save your piece.  So, here are my results doing this set two different ways.


First off you should know the fabric on this set was in rough condition, paint can’t change that. It was hanging on by a thread..ha ha and had been used by a cat as a scratching post.  So making this look perfect wasn’t really an option with paint but I’d say I got close to perfect and will treasure it regardless.  cat scratch

On the Chair I started with a 50/50 water chalk-acrylic mix in Peacock and applied with a brush.  Sanded in between coats!!!!  This is very important on fabrics with taller fibers, like velvet, it softens the fibers that start to stand and get stiff.  My second coat was undilutedPainting fabric with Chalk Acrylic Paint by Shabby Paints. Give life to outdated fabric. paint. Probably not the best choice for tall fibers but helped hold down and cover up the cat scratched corners by thickening them and holding them down. Sanded again, then used a damp brush to apply undiluted sheer VAX all over. Before After Chalk Painted Fabric Upholstery Since I didn’t dilute, it is a bit stiffer like leather or pleather. You might not like it but I wasn’t lucky enough to get this set with perfect fabric.  It also cleans easily, Divot has claimed the chair and has gotten it muddy on several occasions and it has easily wiped off.

Painting fabric with Chalk Acrylic Paint by Shabby Paints.

On the Sofa I decided to spray. See my post on the sprayer I use. We have had some crazy cool June/July days in Tennessee and it was easier to spray.

Sofa painted with Chalk-Acrylic paint using a sprayer

Sofa sprayed with Shabby Paints Chalk-Acrylic paint. One coat.

The first coat was sprayed with a 50/50 water/chalk mixture, sanded, then the second coat was sprayed with the same 50/50 mixture. Great coverage and fun! Once dried I sprayed two thinned coats of VAX, 20/80 water/VAX.  Doing this left my fabric feeling softer, but the cat scratched corners were a little more noticeable!

Conclusion: I suggest flipping a cushion and using it as a test piece to get the feel and finish you like. If flipping a cushion isn’t an option, try going to your local thrift store and buying a pillow that has the same type of fabric and experimenting on that.  Always start with diluted paint so you can saturate the fabric and get the pigment down into it. Don’t forget about the nooks and crannies, when someone sits on it and they open up and aren’t painted it won’t be pretty.

Hope this helped save a piece!

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Fabric painted with Peacock Chalk-Acrylic. Frame painted with Ice and Black reVAX for protection and POP!

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