How to Chalk Paint Upholstery

How to Chalk Paint Upholstery

“Wait, what did you say? You can paint fabric?” <—– That is the typical response I receive when I tell someone I have painted upholstery.

The Why

Well, hiring someone to recover a simple chair costs anywhere between $200-$600 easily, not including the fabric most times. Solution: paint the fabric yourself!

The How

Step 1: Supplies. Get your supplies in order.

You will need:

  • Chalk paint (brand kind or homemade kind- regular paint, plaster of paris & water combination)
  • Wax (I’ve found that Annie Sloan clear wax works best on for upholstery)
  • Brushes
  • Squirt bottle full of water

Step 2: Clean your fabric. Make sure all fuzzies, pet hair, etc. are as gone as you can possibly get them.

Step 3: Spray your fabric with water. This step is a repeated process throughout the project. Before every new layer of paint, I spray the fabric lightly with water. I’ve found that this prevents the coat of paint from clumping and becoming sticky. I use less and less water as I layer the coats.

Step 4: Get to paintin’! This process does take some time. You need to let the paint almost dry completely between coats. Sometimes a piece of furniture takes 3 coats of paint. Sometimes it can take 10. It really depends on the busyness of the fabric pattern you are painting on top of. The chair above took me eight coats of pink paint.

Step 5: Wax time. After you’ve adequately covered up the fabric pattern and reached the true color you desired, let the furniture dry completely. I usually wait a day or two to make sure it is dry everywhere since I’ve drenched it with water multiple times over the past couple days. Now it’s time for your wax. Use a very soft, non-fuzzy cloth to apply your wax. I used a ripped up old t-shirt. Apply it gently but generously. I usually apply 2-3 thick coats of wax, especially in the areas will wear and tear will occur (where you sit, the bottom corners that you walk by). Let dry for 2-3 days.

Step 6: Enjoy! Enjoy your brand new furniture piece. You’ve revamped it all yourself, and hopefully it looks fabulous!


  • Pesky pet hair will try to stick into your paint and wax while you’re projecting. Just scratch it off and reapply the paint or wax depending on the step you are on.
  • How does it hold up? I’ve had three pieces of painted furniture in my living room for two years. The two chairs had textured fabric on them that I painted over. I will tell you, they are holding up better than the smooth fabric love seat I painted. The love seat paint in chipping in some areas on the bottom corners. I’m okay with it because I’ve never much liked that love seat anyway, so I will be replacing it soon. If it were one of my family chairs that were chipping, I’d simply reapply the paint, probably one coat on the whole thing, rewax and bingo, brand new chair again.
  • Don’t get discouraged on the number of layers you have to do. It really is dependent on the fabric you’re painting over, so chin up! Turn on some music, and the hours fly by.
  • How do you clean it? Simple. I use water on a paper towel and just wipe it down.
  • Texture: I painted the below pieces going on two years ago. They still feel like buttery-soft leather. I’m so happy with them that when I get the money, I probably won’t reupholster them. I’ll probably just repaint them a new color! 🙂

How to Chalk Paint Upholstery

Good luck y’all! Thanks for reading!

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