How to Spray Paint an Upholstered Chair
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
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If you checked out my design plan for our living room, you probably noticed the two teal swoop arm chairs I included in the design. You may have also noticed we already have two very similar style chairs, just in a floral pattern that totally clashes with the new design.
Ever since I came across a Youtube video about painting a velvet couch using chalk paint and fabric medium, I knew I had to give painting upholstery a try. It almost seemed too good to be true, that you could actually change the color of fabric with paint?! And that it wasn't just a crusty, leathery mess at the end?? Well, in order to try to make our current chairs fit with the new design, I hatched a plan to paint them. And since we scored these chairs for $50 at a garage sale last year, I didn't feel too bad subjecting them to this potentially epic failure of an experiment.
I decided on fabric spray paint instead of the chalk paint + fabric medium method because, frankly, it seemed easier and faster. I really didn't want to invest many many hours into painting these things just for them to not look good. I knew this was a potentially risky experiment and adjusted my work ethic accordingly.
I did some research and landed on this product called Designer Accents Fabric Paint Spray Dye by Simply Spray. It claims to work on most fabrics (except ones treated with stain repellent), keeps fabric soft and won't wear off. And it's in an easy to use spray bottle. The only prep I had to do was vacuum and clean the chairs, tape off the legs and I was ready to go. Sold. (Though at $50 for a 3-pack, it's a pricy product. I decided to just get 3 cans and make it work.)
As a reminder, here's what the chair looked like before painting:
Here's how it turned out after 6 coats.
By the last coat, I had achieved pretty good coverage, though you could still see some of the floral pattern. I figured some of the pattern was always going to show through, since some parts of it were so much darker than others. If I had another can of paint, I think the floral pattern would be covered up a lot more. But at $50 for 3 cans, I'd invested all that I wanted to in this little experiment. Overall, I think it worked pretty well! The color is a little too vibrant for what I want, but I'm sure it will make a great addition to someone else's home. Ah well, live and learn. :)
Here are some tips if you decide to try this yourself:
Wear gloves. This was a pretty messy project. The cans sputtered a bit as they sprayed, and paint dripped down the cans, onto my hands and feet.
Work outside if you can. Again, it's kinda messy and the overspray got on my arms and legs. I wouldn't want to risk it getting on your floors or other furniture. Use a tarp!
Spray multiple light coats, rather than fewer thick coats. The bottle itself even warns against the urge to saturate the fabric with paint.
Always spray upright. Tilt your chair so you can paint the seat while keeping the can upright. If you try to spray horizontally, paint starts to sputter and comes out blotchy.
Work quickly, holding the can 6-8 inches from the fabric and spray evenly. Each coat should dry to the touch in about 30-40 minutes. Recoat after that.
If you do get any blotches of paint on the chair, just use your gloved hand or a shop rag to smooth it out.
Let dry completely for at least 72 hours before regular use.
Would I use this product again? On something smaller scale like a seat cushion, I probably would. I'd say it works as advertised, though you do need a lot more product than it seems like if you want full coverage. I'd probably need 2 more coats to fully cover the floral pattern and get a solid blue color (and I already did 6 coats).
Overall, it was simple to use and seemed to work. Though as of writing this post, it hasn't yet dried the 72 hours it says it should before using. I'll update this post in a couple days and report back on how the chair feels. Hopefully nice and soft! :)
Have any of you tried spray painting upholstery? How did it go?