How to Paint Fabric Chairs

Have you ever considered painting fabric? I was a bit skeptical, but finally gave it a try.

I purchased these chairs up at a resale shop for $12 per chair. They were solid wood, sturdy and the fabric was in great condition. The only problem was they didn’t match my decor.

Burgundy Accent Chairs

My original plan was to reupholster them using linen. I was planning to paint the frame for a French Country look. After a closer inspection, it became obvious that the back panel was going to be difficult to remove and then reattach. So, they’ve been parked in my basement for a few months. Here is how they look now.

Painted Fabric Chairs

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While researching Fusion Mineral Paint, I stumbled on a tutorial for how to paint fabric and immediately began thinking about my chairs.

Unfortunately, I had two problems.

1. My fabric was a dark burgundy color and I wanted it to be white.

2. Their website recommended that you only paint tightly woven fabric like cotton, polyester, burlap, vinyl and leather. My fabric had a raised pile, almost like a soft corduroy.

Burgundy Chair Cushion

I knew I would be taking a chance, but I decided to give it a try.



My fabric was pretty clean, free of stains and oils, so I just gave it a quick vacuum.

The wood was a little sticky, so I lightly sanded it and the cleaned it with Krud Kutter pre-paint cleaner.


To paint fabric, you should dilute the paint with water. The only exception is if you are painting leather or vinyl. The paint color I used is Limestone.


Start out by diluting your paint at a 1/2 water to 1/2 paint ratio.

I started with the first coat of paint and it really soaked in. I used a full container of paint for the first coat on two chairs.

Painting An Accent Chair

This leaves the fabric feeling really rough to the touch, so you need to sand it before your second coat. This required a lot of sanding with a rough grit sandpaper. Vacuum the fabric before your next coat.


For the second coat you should dilute your paint at a 1/3 water to 2/3 paint ratio.

The second coat of paint also soaked in. I used an entire container of paint on the second coat for both chairs.

Painted Fabric Chairs
Second Coat of Paint

At this point I was really concerned it wasn’t going to work, but I pressed on and I’m glad I did.

Since I had so much sanding to do, I decided to use my random orbit sander with a medium grit paper. I kept the sander on low and only used it for the flat areas. This worked really well and cut the sanding time in half.

I don’t recommend using a sander under normal circumstances. The fabric on my chairs was durable and thick. As a precaution, I kept the sander on low speed and watched it closely. I didn’t press on the sander, just gently guided it along. Then I went back and finished the other areas with a sanding sponge.

Finally, I vacuumed the chairs well.


Since the first two coats of paint soaked in, I decided not to dilute the third coat.

Finally, I started to get the coverage I was looking for.

Painted Fabric Chairs

This is the point when the project became exciting. All along I thought this was going be an expensive mistake. It really started to turn out pretty!

I only used about a half container on the third coat.

Refinishing Accent Chairs with Paint

By now, I had sanded off most of the pile on the fabric. So, the third coat only required just a gentle sanding with a sanding sponge and another quick vacuum.


Again, I did not dilute the fourth coat of paint. It went on very quickly and the results were beautiful! I did not have to sand this time.

The texture of the fabric is similar to a soft vinyl. I wouldn’t say it’s like leather, but that may be because I used four coats of paint! Later I will try to wax it and see if it softens up a little more.


This was my first time using Fusion Mineral Paint. The paint goes on really smooth and leaves very few brush strokes. It was easy to work with and there is no top coat required. That’s a real plus. This is my new favorite paint in terms of application, but I’ll have to wait and see about durability.

I chose the Algonquin color for my base coat.

Refinishing Accent Chairs with Paint

Using a Purdy brush I started at the top and worked my way down. Then I did a second coat. I didn’t even use a third of the paint container for two chairs/two coats.


I was going for a French Country look on these chairs, so I decided to glaze them. Using a mason jar, I mixed a small amount of glaze with Cathedral Taupe. Then working in small sections, I painted on the glaze and then wiped it off. The glaze mixture goes really far, so you only need to mix up a small batch.

Glazing An Accent Chair

I used the blue disposable shop towels for glazing. I’ll rip off about 5 to 8 squares and stack them, then cut them into approximatly 2″ X 3″ rectangles. This way I don’t waste a lot of towels. This works good for furniture with a lot of rounded edges like a chair. But for a dresser or furniture that is flat, I just use the whole towel, since there is more surface area.

Beautiful French Farmhouse Chair Update with Painted Fabric

Here’s one more before and after.

Before and After Painted Fabric Chairs

I think this project would have been much easier if I had the right type of fabric. But, I wanted to refinish the chairs that I had. Overall, I’m satisfied with the outcome.

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Save this idea for later! Did you know that you can hover over the images below, click on the red Pinterest circle, and save it to your PAINTED FURNITURE BOARD on Pinterest? Give it a try below.

Painted Fabric Chair Reveal

Let me know what you think. Have you tried to paint fabric? How did it turn out?






  1. I was contemplating painting a large upholstered chair – similar color to the ones you painted. I did a test and I got concerned with the lack of coverage. After reading your blog I confirmed that I will need At least 4 jars to paint this one chair so I think I’m giving up as It will be expensive and I may not even like the results.
    Thanks for sharing, it was very helpful and realistic!

    1. Hi Alicia. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree that this project uses a lot of paint and I’m glad you found the post helpful. It might work better on something small, using the right fabric. One tip I learned after doing this project, is to use a cheaper paint as the base and then finish it with a more expensive paint.

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