How To Paint Upholstered Dining Chairs To Look Like Grain Sacks

We’ve painted upholstered furniture before. We’ve tried Annie Sloan chalk paint and homemade chalk paint. Each time, we wet down the fabric in between each coat paint, did multiple light coats and waxed the pieces with clear when the paint dried to seal in the paint and create a smooth finish. And, to be honest, we didn’t like the texture. It felt like sitting on plastic. It eventually cracked. It was hard to clean. Husband said, “we’re never painting fabric again.” But, here we are. img_4847img_4821

We picked up this set of chairs at an art market a few weeks ago. I’ve been looking for new dining chairs, and by “looking” I mean “saving up for.” Who knew dining chairs were so expensive!? All of ours in the past were hand-me-downs which is great except they didn’t achieve the look I was going for. So, we saw these used chairs at the market, and they were the right price and perfect! Minus a few stains… I looked up how to reupholster them. It looks doable, but not really doable in this chapter of our life… The stains were noticeable enough, even after a thorough scrubbing, that we had to do something. I gently introduced the idea of painting fabric again to Husband… but this time, I promised, we wouldn’t paint all of it! The chairs were already covered in a light tan fabric, so cue the grain sack idea. It’s really very easy.

img_4822What You Need:

  • Chalk paint- you may get away with any type of paint, but we used chalk paint to play it safe since we’ve used it before. Typically grain sacks have Navy or Red Stripes, but choose whatever color works best for your space.
  • Painters tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Scotchgard Water Shield spray


Step 1: Measure & Tape


Measure and tape where you want your stripes to be.

I looked all over Pinterest at pictures of grain sacks and grain sacks on furniture. After much deliberation with Husband, we chose the 3 stripes, one 1 1/2 inch big stripe and two little quarter inch stripes on either side. 
I started off measuring using what I like to call the “eyeball method.” When Husband noticed this approach, he quickly took over all measuring and taping which really made the project go so much faster.

img_4826 Quick tip: Make all your tape pieces first. It makes the whole process go much faster when as soon as you measure you can place the tape right on.

Step 2: Paint

img_4828 img_4825

Like I said up there, we chose not to spray the fabric down with water before we applied the paint. We did this for two reasons. A. When I tried to get the stains out by scrubbing with different types of cleaner, I noticed that the stains must be in the batting/foam too because once wet, they would get worse. B. I was nervous that wetting down the fabric would cause the paint to run outside the tape lines and onto the wood of the chair. I didn’t feel like dealing with a big mess. The amount of coats you put on it just depends on the fabric you’re painting on top of and how well the paint covers the area.


Step 3: Remove the Tape.

Love this part! It’s so satisfying to remove the tape and watch the transformation happen. There were a couple places where the tape wasn’t pushed down enough when I painted it so the paint ran a little bit. It’s not the end of the world, but make sure your tape is flat while you’re paint and you’ll avoid those mistakes.


Step 4: Let Dry Completely.

Since we didn’t wet the fabric with water, the drying process didn’t take too long. We set them out in the sun though just to make sure the batting and foam underneath the fabric dried properly too before we sealed it.

Step 5: Seal it.

This is where I’d say we gambled the most. Instead of applying wax to our chalk paint, we decided to go a different route. These are dining room chairs, and even though they already have some stains, we’d like to avoid the possibilities of new stains if we can. We used Scotchgard Water Shield to seal our chairs. This will make sure the paint doesn’t rub off onto our clothes when we sit in the chairs, and it will help prevent future stains. The texture of the paint is a little rough. Definitely not smooth like if we had waxed it, but since we only painted a small surface area, it’s really not a big deal. It’d be a different story if we had painted the enter seat. img_4844

So, there you have it. The whole project took about 2 hours. Not bad for a whole new dining chair. We’ll probably still recover them one day, but for now, I love how they turned out! img_4843


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