Sunday, August 14, 2016

Painting an upholstered chair

I've been on the hunt for a wingback armchair for years now. One with perfect bones, a light grey color. I decided to give this tan wingback armchair (gifted by a neighbor cleaning out their shed) a makeover. Although I've sewn a new cover for a square-shaped ottoman before, I decided that sewing a cover for this wingback chair was one DIY project that I did not feel up to, despite watching countless tutorial videos.

Instead, I decided to paint the chair instead to give it a new look. First, I cleaned the chair thoroughly with a spray bottle filled with water, dishwashing soap, and vinegar, scrubbing carefully with a brush, and then I cleaned it with vodka, which removes odors and is a trick that many professional upholstery stores use. I let it air dry in the 98 degree Durham heat and then set to work painting!

Before and after applying chalky paint!
Read on for the tutorial.
Materials needed:
  • spray bottle filled with water
  • paintbrush. I also used a foam brush for painting the chair legs with black acrylic paint
  • 2 jars (8 ounces each) of grey chalky paint (I used Americana Decor Yesteryear from Michaels)
  • sandpaper--any type

 Spray fabric with water, enough to dampen the fabric, then apply chalky paint. I removed the seat cushion and painted all sides of it as well.

After 1 coat of paint, I let it air dry overnight, then sanded the entire surface lightly, focusing more on the rough areas. I tried to avoid sanding the corners and piping too roughly, because the paint is more likely to rub off in those areas. 

I applied a 2nd coat of chalky paint and let it air dry, then sanded it lightly again.
I also painted the legs black with a foam brush and 2 coats of acrylic black paint, because the original legs had a few chips/scratches that I wanted to cover up.
The finished product! I did use a hairdryer to blow off chalk paint dust, but there wasn't much residue at all. This is an entertaining "Wiggle test" video of how chalk paint, once dry, does not rub off on your clothes. 

  • Sanding between coats of paint is crucial to softening the feel of the fabric. The final texture after painting the chair is still slightly rough. You can apply a coat of clear wax after the chalk paint dries, to help with the rough texture.
  • If you chalk paint a chair that already has worn down fabric, the texture will be rougher than if 
  • The more complex the texture (like a tweed chair), the more paint you'll need and the rougher the final texture. The original chevron pattern of the chair showed through a little at the end even with 2 coats of paint.
  • If I did this again I would apply the coats of paint more evenly, because there were a few streaky areas after the 2nd coat dried. I'd also buy this chalk paint round bristle brush to help the paint absorb better

1 comment:

  1. what a dramatic difference! Looks great.