Paint a Fabric Chair with Chalk Paint

Today I’m sharing how to paint a fabric chair with chalk paint.

I’m not afraid to paint things.  My motto is: it’s just paint – you can always repaint!  However, I was a little skeptical of the recent popularity of painting upholstered furniture.  But, I can now add it to my list because I painted a fabric chair!

Paint a fabric chair with chalk paint

The chair I painted was 10 years old, and I actually had it in my Goodwill pile.  It looks much better in the photo, but it has seen some wear and tear.


Lena had drawn on it, there was a hole in the upholstery, and the seat was pretty grimy – despite my numerous attempts to clean the seat.  Honestly, this picture does the chair way too much justice. Anyway, I had seen lots of Pinterest pins on people painting upholstered furniture, and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to test it out. So, I pulled out my Annie Sloan Chalk paint (Duck Egg, Old Ochre, and clear wax) and got to work!


I painted the fabric in Annie Sloan Duck Egg and the wooden legs and arms in Annie Sloan Old Ochre. For my first coat of paint on the fabric (I did two coats), I dipped the brush in water before I dipped it in the paint.  It helps the fabric absorb the paint better.  The first coat took a while, but it wasn’t hard.  Just a little time-consuming.


It was a little boring at this point, so I decided to give it some stripes – inspired by the beach towel I was painting on…



Or inspired by Lena’s little striped socks sticking out in the top right of the photo? 😉 Anyway, I taped off the stripes.  I didn’t measure, but I attempted to visually make them straight and even. PaintedChair5

I used frog tape, and it worked great!  I really think frog tape is worth the extra money.


Next, I sanded down everything.  I usually sand after I remove the wax, but I find that I go through so much sandpaper this way.  The wax really gunks up the sandpaper fast.  So, sanding before the wax worked well, but I did have to blow off all the dust before I added the wax.

PaintedChair8   PaintedChair9

I used a bigger wax brush for this project.  It helps the waxing process go so much quicker! (By the way, I need some lotion on those hands!)


Then, I used a lint-free cloth (t-shirt) to buff the wax. I was seriously impressed at how easy it was to paint fabric.  And, the fabric still can move.  The paint doesn’t crack – at least not yet! I wouldn’t do this on a “tv watchin'” chair, but it will make the best office chair!


Would you paint a fabric chair with chalk paint?

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29 thoughts on “Paint a Fabric Chair with Chalk Paint

  1. I love this! Well, I love all of your projects! Such a creative mind. I would never think to paint a fabric chair, but I’m glad people like you are clever (and brave) enough to try it out for people like me!

    1. Hi Joy! I haven’t had any issues with the chalk paint bleeding or coming off, but I’ve only used it indoors. The wax I use helps protect the paint, but I’m not sure if it would hold up outdoors. However, if you were using it in a covered porch I think it could work. Good luck!

  2. I have been working on a chair, a velveteen fabric. Took a couple coats of paint and it is stiff…I am hoping I am going the right nd then wax? Your pieces are beautiful!!!!

    1. Hi Shelly! Velvet is by far the hardest fabric I have painted. It REALLY soaks up the paint and requires much more paint than other fabric. As a result, it does feel stiffer than my other projects. I sanded (lightly) so that the fabric had a smooth look – just to even out the paint. I did find that the wax helped soften the paint and give it the more “pleather” feel. So hopefully the wax will soften your piece. Good luck with your project, and I hope I helped!

  3. Hi! The chair turned out beautiful. I just did an ottoman and some areas are not soft. I didn’t sand before waxing. Would you suggest I go back and do that or just add another coat of wax?

  4. Hi there, interesting painting fabric chairs. Did a lounger and a huge chair. What a nightmare the chair is. The seat and arms are cracking and the lounger after one weekend of sitting on it, has now started to crack as well. Have done alot of research on how to do this. Yes, usesd ASC paint and wax. The lounger took 4 quarts, plus the wax. This is not that cost effective. That is not the problem, the issue is the cracking. I have sanded the chair on the arms and the seat and there are now visible areas where I have reapplied the paint. Have also left it to cure a couple of weeks before sanding and waxing. Help… any suggestions on what could be wrong. Chair on the sides, back etc just need touching up, every couple of weeks.
    The lounger is not used that often either, but it is also showing cracking etc.
    Very disappointing as I research more again. No one is mentioning the cracking. I cannot be the only one. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanking you in advance.

    1. Oh, Frances. That does sound like a nightmare! I am so sorry you’ve had problems. My first question is did you mix chalk paint & water and not use straight chalk paint? My other question is what kind of fabric is on the pieces you painted? I’ve had a lot of luck on thick upholstery fabric and not so much luck on velvet. Velvet soaks up the paint and requires SO much paint which can result in some cracking. However, this chair (which was upholstery fabric – not velvet) in my post is used a lot, and I haven’t see any cracking.

  5. How is your chair holding up? Would you paint dining room chairs? Love my chairs but not in love with the color any more.

    1. It’s held up really well. I have another chalk painted fabric chair I used at my computer desk, and it is used a lot. I really have no complaints – at least not yet!

      1. Do you have a Pinterest or a picture of your painted office chair. I’m about to attempt to chalk paint an old thrift store find. But, very nervous! I really don’t want to spend so much on Annie Sloan Chalk paint! Any other Chalk paint suggestions? Thank you, Terry ❤️

  6. I adore the way your project has turned out! i recently found a wingback outside on the side of the road. It had great bones so I snagged it up!!! I am ready to use it! I have also been pinning on painting fabric but am too afraid I will ruin the chair.

    I can tell it has been reupholstered within the past 20 years; however, the fabric is grimy and really filthy. What would you suggest before watering down the fabric?

    Also, did you water down the fabric first THEN paint with chalk paint? OR did you did your brush in water then in paint then painted?

    I cant wait to get started!

    1. Hi Tiffany! I painted a tufted fabric headboard I bought at a flea market. I was kind of scared of where it had been, so I did scrub/wash it down as much as I could. However, it really don’t matter because the paint traps all the gross stuff. 😉 I have tried both – watering down the fabric and using paint AND mixing paint and water. I think the best solution is to wet down the fabric some (you could use a squirt bottle) and then mix 1 part water to 1 part paint. It takes longer, but I think the result is better. Good luck to you and thanks for the comment!

  7. Hi, I don’t see anywhere what type of wax you use on this project! Help! I’m done painting a chair after following your instructions, but don’t know what type of wax to get for finishing up the project and making it fabric soft.

  8. Now that it has been a few years i am womderimg how your painted chairs are holding up. Thinking of painting a couple chairs we use in the living room. I have 4 busy kids. Do u think painting upholstery is more for items that get less use? Thanks!!

    1. Unfortunately I no longer have any of my painted fabric chairs. The held up fine while I had them, but I do worry what would happen with constant use – mine were never the main seating. I hope this helps!