Painting fabric with chalk paint – Review of Rust Oleum’s chalk paint

Painting fabric with chalk paint – Review of Rust Oleum’s chalk paint
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Upholstery painted with Rust Oleum chalk paint
Detailed texture painted

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 and highly rated on amazon.

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.

This paint makes miracles happen!


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. Use a regular paint brush like this. 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.

Painting fabric with chalk paint in progress
After two layers of paint it didn’t look that good, but just keep on painting more thin layers. The result will be so worth it that you almost can’t believe it!

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 coats of paint on fabric. Just learning by doing.



Fabric of the chair painted with chalk paint
UPDATE: This chair is used on a daily basis and it looks now just as nice as it did over a year ago when I got it all done. This chair is rockin’ it!
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11 thoughts on “Painting fabric with chalk paint – Review of Rust Oleum’s chalk paint”

  • Good day, Can Rustoleum Chalked be used to paint bedding (a border on a duvet cover)which is going to be washed often? I plan to mix it with regular fabric paint. I’m stuck in the lockdown/quarantine in South Africa and need white fabric paint, Can’t buy it anywhere now as all the craft shops are closed therefore I want to try mixing Linen White with my fabric paint but don’t want it to crack and wash off.
    Please let me know .
    Kindest regards,

    • Hi!
      I apologize for the delay in response. I must say the paint can’t be used in this case. It would come off in the washer. Hope you’ll find another solution.

      Best regards,

    • Hi! Thank you for this post! Super helpful! 🙂
      I’m wondering if I would use the same process (diluting with water) when using this brands top coat instead of wax?

      Thanks for your help!


      • Hi Ashlee!
        So sorry it took this long to respond. We’re getting lots of spam, which makes it difficult for the real comments to come through 🙁

        I’ve read about the top coat that it can be diluted with water being a water based prodcuct. It would make sence to dilute the top coat with water like I did with the paint to make sure it goes into the fabric and not just on top of it. But I must admit I haven’t tried this myself.

        If you already have all the supplies I would suggest that you’d try this method on an extra piece of fabric to make sure this works as expected.

        Happy DIYing!


  • Question: If you finish off with the wax and then later want to change the color of the fabric, is it possible to paint another color over it, or how should you prep knowing there is a wax coating? thank you

    • Hi Julia,
      you should remove the wax coating and then wash off at least a bit of the previous paint. But how to remove the wax, that I haven’t tried yet. Through the wax the new paint wouldn’t go through into the fabric like it needs to. I did quick google search with “remove furniture wax” and there seems to be a way to get the wax removed.

      I hope this helps!


  • Do you actually sit on this chair without the paint flaking off? Or is it more of a decoration? Do you use the chair regularly?

    • Hi Heather,
      yes we actually do sit on this rocking chair every night before the kids go to bed. It is used daily for half an hour or so. The paint is still not flaking off after two and a half years. I’ve been very happy with this makeover 🙂

      Have a nice Sunday!


  • Hi I am going to try this but don’t know what kind of wax you are talking about. Could you please tell me the brand you use? Thanks

    • Hi Julie!
      So sorry, I missed your question. Had to go through lots of spam.
      I use natural furniture wax from Rust Oleum. Finishing the fabric I used clear wax and working on wood furniture I love to use their white wax. It makes the surface look real nice! Couldn’t find these products on Amazon but I’m sure similar product by Valspar or FolkArt would work just as well. I hope this helps!

      Happy DIYing!

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