Chalk Paint on Fabric

Although I would not always recommend using chalk paint on fabric, it does work!  I’m sharing a tutorial for using chalk paint on fabric.

{If you’re new here, you may want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.}

I’m still painting things…

Tutorial for using chalk paint on fabric

Tutorial for Using Chalk Paint on Fabric

I found this amazing headboard at a flea market last summer.  It was love at first sight.  Seriously, my heart skipped a beat.

I love old furniture, but I do get a little creeped out by used fabric pieces.  The velvet upholstery was in perfect condition (despite the green color which did not match my decor), but I didn’t know where this headboard had been and it smelled pretty bad.  And, I was asking MY GUESTS to lay their heads next to a used (stinky) fabric headboard.  So, before I tried reupholstering it, I decided to try paint!

I painted the frame of the headboard in Annie Sloan Paris Gray chalk paint.  To see more about how to use chalk paint, click HERE.

I also painted the upholstery with Annie Sloan Paint, but I used Pure White and clear Annie Sloan soft wax.


The first step is to water down the paint for the fabric.  I did a 1:1 ratio – 1 part paint to 1 part water.  (I did clean the upholstery before I painted it by washing it down with Mr. Clean.  I’m not sure how much that did, but at least I tried.)


After you have your watered down paint ready, start painting!


I have painted an upholstered fabric chair (to see more about that project, click HERE), but this velvet was new to me.  It really SOAKS up the paint.  I painted layer after layer after layer…

I was lazy on the last layer and used straight, chalk paint. Do not get lazy like me.  Keep watering the paint down to avoid the paint from cracking.

By the time I was done, I painted between 4-5 coats of paint.  I used almost my entire quart of paint to complete this project.




Once I had (finally) completed the painting portion, I let it dry.  Drying takes a while since you soak the upholstery in the process.  I had to wait a full 24 hours before I began the next step.

I lightly sanded the paint before I waxed.


After I sanded, there was chalk paint dust everywhere.  I used a hand vac to sweep it up before I began waxing.


I added two layers of wax, and then I took my lint free cloth (an old tshirt) and rubbed in/buffed the wax.


I let the wax set a couple days, and then I set the headboard up in my guest room.

tutorial for using chalk paint on fabric

Are you new to my blog? Go HERE to see my home tour and HERE to shop for items I use in our home.

Find me on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

79 thoughts on “Chalk Paint on Fabric

      1. I have a beautiful bed set the headboard has bond leather it started pealing I was wondering if the chalk paint and wax would do the same

    1. I know! My husband didn’t quite understand the attraction, but I was INSTANTLY in love with this headboard. Thanks so much for stopping by and the comment!

  1. Adorable! I just sat and looked at that bed. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Also the turquoise mirror is wonderful. How do you find the time and
    energy for all these projects. You are truly inspiring me.
    Thanks again,


    1. Nancy, thanks so much for stopping by and the kind words! I love to paint, and it’s definitely my creative outlet. My kids are so used to seeing a paint brush in my hand that my youngest has started telling people that her mom is “a painter.” 🙂

  2. I can see why your heart skipped a beat when you saw this headboard! I’m jealous. I’d love to find it’s twin.

    I’m presently trying my hand at painting the material on an old chair. It’s coming along fine, but my question is… will wear? I’m a little concerned that on a hot, humid summer day the paint will rub off on my clothe, or it will wear thin after a time. I’m hoping the wax will keep this from happening, but I’d like to know your thoughts on the subject.


    1. It’s twin is probably out there somewhere… 😉
      Thanks so much for the comment and stopping by!

  3. I have its twin and was going to attempt this. So glad I found you on pinterest and now I’m not as fearful to attempt.

        1. Hi Leanne! The wax is a protective coating. Also, the wax does give the paint a little sheen – without it, the paint will look really “chalky” and flat.

    1. Hey Sara love the painted headboard I did the same with mine but the paint seems to crack when it dries. I didn’t water my paint down because I wanted the awful orange not to be seen. I haven’t sanded it either for fear of all the paint coming off any suggestions

      1. Hi Mekeisha. I’m so sorry you’re having problems. Watering down the chalk paint really is key, but have you applied wax yet? Sometimes the wax really helps soften the paint on fabric. If you have waxed, and the painted is still cracking, you may need to sand and reapply the paint. I had to use SO many coats of watered-down white paint to go over my dark green. I went through an entire quart of watered-down paint, and it took FOREVER! Good luck, and I hope it works out for you!

  4. Pingback: Chalk Paint Tips @
    1. Hi Josette! The wax is a protective coating. Also, the wax does give the paint a little sheen – without it, the paint will look really “chalky” and flat.

  5. The headboard is gorgeous and your bedding is so perfect with it.
    Do you not have to use fabric medium when painting fabric with chalk paint?

    1. Hi Candace – thank you! No, you do not have to use a fabric medium when painting fabric with chalk paint. Instead, you water the paint down/and or water the fabric down before you paint. Now, the velvet required A LOT of paint such it sucked it up. It almost took an entire can of Annie Sloan chalk paint – which isn’t cheap! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Sara,
    This has got to be my favorite redo!! We’ll done!! I too have painted a lot with ASCP and love it!! I was wondering why you sanded the painted fabric before you waxed it? You didn’t want any green showing right? Does it help the wax? I’ve only painted fabric once. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Karil! I apologize for the delay – I’ve been out of town. Thanks so much for the kinds words! Since I had painted SO many layers, there were a few clumps I wanted to smooth out by sanding. I didn’t sand enough to let the green fabric show through, and I’m not sure if sanding it helps the wax or not. However, the sanding was just because I wanted a really smooth look. Thanks for stopping by and the comment!

    1. I’ve painted upholstered fabric in the past, and it has ended up having a pleather feel. This particular piece was velvet, so it required more paint than most fabric (it REALLY soaked up the paint). It still has that pleather feel, but it is slightly harder than my other projects. It still gives when you push on it. It’s hard to explain without touching it…

  7. Sara — this bed is gorgeous! I think I would have liked this headboard but passed it up due to the gold and green. Your vision (and hard work) turned it into a luxurious piece of furniture.

    1. It’s definitely stiffer than it was. It now has a pleather-like feel. It gives (and doesn’t crack), but it’s a different texture than it was. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. would you recommend doing the same process or doing the straight chaulk paint from the beginning ,move seen it done straight chaulk paint, but not up close. You showed more detail.and one was a crackle effect ( which I wasn’t a fan off the look)

    1. Candie – the crackling you see is because at the end I was tired of the watering down the layers, so I attempted a straight layer of chalk paint as a short cut. I would definitely recommend patience and watering down the chalk paint. Good luck!

  9. Sara, you did a beautiful on this headboard! I’ve chalk painted tufted velvet upholstery and so I know how much extra work is involved in getting in all those folds. I went through an entire can of ASCP too and the 24-hour wait time between coats seems to take forever. But it’s a fabulous way to give a piece new life without having to reupholster. Kudos to you! I found you through the feature at Prodigal Pieces and am now your newest follower.

    1. Hey Marie! I’m so glad you found me! Yes, painting tufted velvet upholstery is a chore! However, until I learn how to upholster, I’ll turn to paint. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and I’m excited to see everything you’ve been up to on your blog!

  10. hi there, i think i am one more to fall in love with that georgeus headboard. well, question, i have three coaches that were gifted to me, i love them, but not the color, i have been checking out in the oh so contradictory internet-pinterest, and now i have this fear on doing this, first i am in méxico, and i dont know if i’ll get the annie’s wax and paint, so well.. f…k, jeje, but even if i get it, i dont know the texture it will have afterwars, cause, many say that it doesnt get more texture- be the same, and others say that it will get more stiff, i really dont want to get the softness in my coaches away.. so… yours how do they feel after the painting and waxing.? thanks, blessings!

    1. Hi Lena! First off, I love your name – it’s my daughter’s name.

      Painting three couches would be a pretty big undertaking. The problem with painting upholstery is that it takes a lot of time and a lot of paint. Annie Sloan chalk paint is expensive, and I can’t imagine how many cans you would go through to get your couches painted. If you’re really determined to chalk paint them, I would (maybe?!) try making your own chalk paint and invest in Annie Sloan Wax. The texture is like pleather, and it won’t rub off on you, but it won’t be the softest either.

      I’ve seen people talking about spray paint design specifically for upholstery. Have you looked into this at all? I’ve never personally used it, but I think it would save you a lot of time.

      I personally went a little crazy painting this headboard. It took SO much paint and patience. I just hate telling you to go for three couches when I know what a HUGE undertaking that would be.

      Have I helped you at all?

  11. I have a couch, chair and settee, I want to do this with. However, I need to get an idea what it will cost me. How much paint and money did it cost to fo that headboard. Thanks!
    People forget to mention that most the time.

    1. Hi there! This headboard was velvet, so it REALLY soaked up the paint. I used an entire quart of paint on this piece, so I don’t know how cost effective painting fabric would be on a couch, chair and settee. I hope I helped!

  12. Wow i love this piece. You are so talented!! I have a question. I’m deciding whether to pain my kitchen counter stools. i wonder if after a while the fabric will crack since we will sit on it daily. Also is it easy to clean this if it gets dirty? How do you clean this? Seems like it would be really hard to clean it. Please I would appreciate your input.

    1. Danuta – thank you! If done correctly, the fabric won’t crack and will have a vinyl feel which should make clean up easy. However, the fabric really soaks up the paint, so it may actually be cheaper to add new fabric to your stools – just a thought! Good luck on your project!

  13. How soft is this? Was thinking about trying it on a chair but it’s a chair that we use in the living room so there would definitely be some wear and tear…. Maybe I should just paint the back, side, and wings (wing backed recliner) and re-upholster the actual seating area.

    1. Hi Tracey,

      It almost has a vinyl feel to it, so it’s really not soft (but it gives). I used paint on my upholstered computer chair, and it has held up well. However, a wing-back recliner is large and will take a ton of paint, so it may be a pretty big investment. At that point, you may need to weigh the cost of the paint (and your time) with the cost of a new chair. I hope I helped and good luck with your decision!

  14. So cute! I have this exact headboard that I found at a flea market too. Mine was still brand new with tags on. Same green and gold. I decided to take off the frame and then reupholstered it with a linen-look fabric. I didn’t replace the frame. So fun to see it with the frame painted. That was my original thought but love mine too without.

  15. I’m wondering if adding fabric medium to the paint would make the finished result on a plush recliner softer, or if it just holds the colour better. After reading many different posts I think watering down and sanding between layers is definately key.