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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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How to paint chair upholstery.  DIY chair upholstery.

Recently I bought this chair from a a local online auction for only $25, but I wasn’t really into the fabric that came on it.  The fabric kind of reminded me of what they cover the comfy waiting room chairs in at the doctor’s office.  What you can’t see from the picture above is the pattern in the green fabric.  They were little designs in a different color that were subtle, but raised up.

I was a little naive when I bought the chair, thinking “Oh I can just recover it”.  Yeah… after one phone call I realized I couldn’t afford to have someone else do it.  Then I decided I would recover it myself.  After watching countless hours of youtube videos on this, it dawned on me that buying all the fabric and the tools I would be spending a fortune still.

So… I decided to paint it.  I know, it sounds like a crazy idea to spray paint your fabric, but I paid $25 for the chair and really didn’t want to spend a ton more.  In the end if it failed I wasn’t out days and days of work from trying to recover it or a lot of money.  I recruited the help of a couple of friends and we got to work.

I used the Simply Spray Fabric Spray Paint from Amazon.  It comes in a 6-pk., to the tune of $54 for 6 cans.

First I started just by trying to clean the fabric.  I wrapped some tape around my palm with the sticky facing out and got all of the lent and other good things out from the folds in the chair.  You don’t want the paint to cake up on everything you didn’t clean off the chair.  This chair didn’t have any noticeable stains, but most reviews I read said to make sure anything else was clean with soap and water first.

Next, I taped off the legs of the chair to make sure they didn’t get ruined with paint.

Then, we started spraying!  The directions said to hold the can kind of far away, but since we were spraying outside, the wind was blowing most of it away.  So, I held the bottle a couple of inches away from the chair and went in even strokes across the width of the chair.

I took the cushion off to make sure I could cover all of the nooks and crannies of it.  This picture was taken after a couple of coats and before I covered the sides.  I chose to only paint one side of the cushion to save on paint.

When It was all said and done, I ended up doing about 3 coats over the whole chair and used 9 bottles.  It was more than I was supposed to use and I thought it was just because I was coating it so thickly, but a lot of the reviews said they also used more than they were supposed to.

Here’s a close-up of the completed product.  The sun in this picture makes it look a little lighter than it actually is, but you can see how well it covered the colored pattern.

And here is what the whole chair looks like now.  It’s still in the garage until we find the perfect place to put it in the house, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  The fabric is still a little stiff right now, but I’ve read that it really softens up after you sit in it a few times.

Something else I’ve noticed is that it really attracts dog hair and other dust that just floats through the air.  I’m hoping that’s something that will be resolved once the paint softens, but I wouldn’t suggest this if you have indoor dogs that shed like it’s their job.  One the other hand,  I haven’t noticed the paint coming off onto anything.

One of my friends needed a quick, cheap fix for an ottoman she found on the side of the road.  She decided to just use regular spray paint.  It was still hard, but since she doesn’t use it much and it’s just an ottoman anyway, she’s happy with the results for what she spent.

In the end, my opinion is twofold: In one case I would paint something again, but I may also spend the extra money to re-upholster if it was a chair you loved.

Since I hated the fabric on this chair before and I knew I wasn’t going to use it if it stayed the same, I knew I had to do something.  But, I still ended up spending over $100 for something that was scratchy and not the best option.  However, I probably won’t use it a lot and it will be more of a space-filler just to look pretty and not be sit on (currently it’s sitting in the corner of my bedroom holding clean laundry).

However, if it’s a really nice piece that you want to keep nice and use a lot, I would maybe save up so I could spend the extra $200 to get it re-upholstered.

I actually tried another method that I can’t personally recommend to you.  It’s dying fabric using Rit Dye.  It’s definitely a cheaper alternative to the spray paint since each bottle is only a few dollars.  I used this method on a chair my husband had inherited knowing that we would just re-upholster it if he didn’t like it (it was his grandmother’s).

First we tried diluting the rit dye in water and it was so dilute that it looked like I was water coloring the chair.  It would have take 10,000 coats to cover the design in the fabric.  So then we went in heavy.

I poured the dye directly onto a sponge (while wearing gloves) and worked it into the fabric.  It was tough to cover all of the fabric around the piping.  Since the fabric was patterned, we had to use black dye to cover it. It covered great with two coats.

Sadly we read some reviews of this method that said over time dye transfers onto other fabrics when you sit on it.  Since my husband wasn’t crazy about the black color and we plan to have this in our main living room, I decided to abandon the project, but above is what it looked like before I quit.  I’m off to save up pennies to now get it fixed correctly and not be the scandal of the family for ruining grandma’s chair…

 

    • Becky

      sounds interesting! curious to see if the paint comes off when you sit there for a long time.

    • Amy F

      I’m so glad you posted this. I bought an identical chair at a yard sale for $10.00. It’s 1980’s country duck blue. I’ve been looking at it for 3 years wanting to change it. I thought about a slipcover but they only come in boring colors. This gives me something to think about. The slipcover would be cheaper… One of my son’s former teachers actually paints upholstered furniture. She uses regular paint and mixes a medium of some sort to make it softer. I just can’t remember what it’s called. She bought it at the paint store and it came in gallon containers like a bleach container.

      • Tanya

        Amy, it’s called fabric painting medium, or at least that’s what it was called a few years ago. The brand that I used was Folk Art and I found it at both Michael’s and Walmart. It gives upholstery fabric almost an oil cloth look and texture. I hope this helps. :o)

    • Jenni P.

      Thanks for this post! I’ve got two chairs in our living room that are super comfy… but SUPER ugly. I’ve considered slipcovers, reupholstering, painting them… Shoot, bleaching the fabric would look better than how it looks now. But I think since ours are such high use items, painting them is just not an option, which your review helped me decide. Looks like it’s going to be either slipcovers, or DIY reupholstering. I found a great tutorial on Pinterest for DIY upholstering. Now, just to watch for a GREAT sale on some upholstery fabric.

    • KB

      I actually saved money by having a favorite chair redone by a friend who was taking classes to learn how to re-upholster furniture. I purchased the materials on sale and she offered to do the work for free as a class project. Turned out AMAZING, and I ended up with a better than new chair! We ended up giving her a monetary gift because she did such a great job, but it was still way less than it would have cost otherwise!

    • Kristen

      I would have slipcovered the chair- they are not that hard to make yourself, just takes some patience and practice- and you could always hire it out if you didn’t feel up to it.