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Do you have a piece of worn out upholstered furniture that needs to be updated? And you don’t want to spend hundreds to get it re-upholstered? Painting the fabric with chalk paint is just the answer you’ve been looking for! You can paint almost anything with chalk paint. I’ve used Rust Oleum Chalked on wooden decorations and wooden furniture and even on upholstery. Can’t believe how great the painted fabric turned out! I love the way it looks with the original pattern of the fabric showing through. The treasured chair has been perfectly restored and updated at the same time!
The treasured rocking chair
We’ve had this grandma’s old rocking chair for thirteen years just covered up with simple fabric that was quickly sown together. I wasn’t too happy with that cover up but it made the chair look at least somewhat decent. I loved and treasured the chair anyway. Though, I had been thinking about getting it upholstered properly but I didn’t want to pay that much money to get it done…
Then I finally found the perfect way to make this old chair look gorgeous. I heard about this amazing product and I decided to give it a try: I painted the upholstered parts with chalk paint. The paint was the traditional “brush-on” kind you could just as well use on the wooden parts. I am so surprised it turned out that great! I am more than happy with the result. The chair turned out so much better than I could even imagine. Just love how the pattern of the upholstery looks now, perfect!
About the paint
In Europe Rust Oleum markets the paint by different name, Chalky Finish. The US version is Rust Oleum Chalked. You can easily shop the products I used by clicking the product images containing affiliate links to amazon’s product page. I am more than happy to recommend both the paint and wax. Anthracite grey is the actual tone I used and it’s available in Europe. Country gray which is available in the US appears very similar. The color appears lighter in reality than it does in the product picture. Adding the wax also affects the tone a little. Instead of wax you could try this protective topcoat, which is easier to apply.
How to do it – some pointers before the step-by-step guide
To successfully paint fabric with chalk paint you have to make sure to wet the fabric thoroughly before painting it. Wetting the fabric helps the paint really go into the fabric and not just on it which helps the paint stay in place properly.
You should also make the paint thinner by mixing it with water. The paint has to be milk like. First I tried half water and half paint mixed but that was a bit too thick since it made the texture of the fabric even out too much. Two parts water and one part paint worked better with my rocking chair. For the actual painting I used a regular 2inch/5cm wide paint brush we had.
Please note, that if you do not wet the fabric nor make the paint thinner, then most likely all the paint will just crackle off the fabric and you will end up with the fabric feeling like a hard surface. So, please remember these important steps before you jump to painting.
Chalk paint is a fun product to work with since you can always easily paint over or sand off excess paint. Finding the perfect mix of paint and water depends on the fabric. But based on my experience I would say the thinner the better.
Use a separate container to test out your mix. Don’t forget to make note of your mix ratio. If you happened to add too much water with no more paint left, you can just take the lid off and let it sit overnight. Or if you forgot to close the lid, just add a little water.
Here’s a quick guide on how to paint fabric with chalk paint:
1. Use a spray bottle to wet the fabric thoroughly
2. Try out your mix and observe whether the paint is sucked into the fabric. Paint is too runny if it’s uncontrollably dripping all over. And it’s too thick if it doesn’t seem to go into the fabric and evens out the texture too much.
3. Paint one thin layer throughout and let it dry overnight.
4. Paint the second layer crisscrossing. At this this point I wet the fabric a little bit with spray bottle and used the same milk like paint mix. Let dry overnight.
5. Paint once more or even twice if you prefer. At this point I didn’t wet the fabric any more and painted really smoothly from left to right step by step to even out the appearance. Once again let dry overnight.
6. Apply the wax to seal your work. This is a mandatory step if you wish to ever clean the fabric with a damp cloth! I tried putting the wax on with a paint brush but it didn’t work out on fabric so I used an old sock to rub in the wax. Apply a thin layer. If you prefer your piece with a more shiny finish then you just polish the wax by rubbing it for a bit longer.
You can’t go wrong with chalk paint. Once you get started you’ll soon get the hang of it. Try to remember the thin layers on fabric. Just learning by doing.