DIY Experiment: Use Regular Spray Paint on Outdoor Cushions!

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Things were looking a little bit faded on my front porch a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t just the inch of pollen covering every surface!  My formerly black seat cushions had faded to gray over several years of use.  
regular spray paint outdoor pillows cushions
In their defense, they’re not made from outdoor fabric, so it’s no surprise that they faded, even with a liberal coating of Scotchguard.
Here’s the dingy before:

And up close:

Ever since I painted my gray chair {here}, I’ve been wondering about fabric spray paints and how well they work.  At first, I was going to buy a can of that and try it out on these pillows, but then I read some reviews that suggested that just maybe they weren’t worth the expense.  I then started to wonder how plain old spray paint would work on fabric…there’s not too much out there on that, and as you all know, I often like to try new things just to see if they’ll work.  The cushions were destined for the trash can anyway, so what did I have to lose?

I pulled out a can of my favorite spray paint, Rust-Oleum Ultracover 2X in black semi-gloss.  I buy it locally, but here’s our Amazon affiliate link so you can see what the can looks like:

  Then I gave the cushions two coats each, top, bottom, and sides.  Check out the difference:


I let them dry thoroughly and put them back on the chairs.  Now they’re black instead of gray:

spray paint outdoor fabric cushions pillows can you

They are colorfast, so the paint doesn’t transfer when you sit down.


They feel a bit stiffer than they did originally, but they’re not uncomfortable to sit on.


I probably only used half a can of paint for both, so I consider that a tremendous bargain compared to the cost of new cushions.  Don’t you?

how to spray paint pillow cushion

Sometimes you just never know until you try…  I’ll update you in a few months to let you know how they weather our hot summer sun down here in Savannah! (UPDATE:  they’re still looking great and it’s January 2018!!)

I’ve since painted an entire set of outdoor cushions for my conversation set using regular latex paint and a paint sprayer.  Check out that project {here}.


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  1. Brilliant! And, yes, please do keep us posted on how they hold up with rain and sun. if you have good luck with it, then I will try it myself:)

  2. Wow…I would have never thought to spray paint the cushions!…They came out great!…

  3. where did you get your green pillows from, I need them !

  4. Je sսis tombé sur voyre site web par hasard : je ne le regrette pas !

  5. I painted a set with some krylon paint, ended up a bit rough. Sanded them out. Smoothed out nicely….however, the paint still kinda wants to come off on clothing if you rub it….thoughts?

    • That has never happened to me–I guess I’d ask how long you let them dry/how many coats you used. We sit on painted cushions all the time and never has a drop transferred. Of course, I only use Rustoleum, too, so maybe that has something to do with it?

  6. Melanie Townsend says

    So how did it hold up? I’m thinking of trying this on an outdoor pouf ottoman. Thanks!

    • The paint gave me another year. I didn’t cover my cushions, though, which I usually do, and they’ve been exposed to the elements all year. Because they’re white, all the pollen, dirt, etc. shows. If I did this again I would definitely use a darker color, but it was a good project and like I said, I got another year out of cushions that were ready to be tossed!

      Hope that helps.

  7. Hi, just wondering if the dye ran at all with water (like rain or a spilt drink)?

  8. So do you think the spray paint or the latex paint turned out better texture wise and the overall look?

    • I think the spray paint turned out better, but because I used white paint with the latex, I had to use multiple coats. With the black spray paint, I only needed one. So color choice has a lot to do with how many coats you need to use.
      Hope that helps!

  9. I’m wondering if fabric protector would work on spray painted fabric to maintain the paint and quality. I know major stores including Homedepot has them. Im going to try to spraypaint my jude rugs, but before I do, im going to spray water on them, just like they do when you paint chairs etc.This is probably soften the fabric up a little.

    • Della Robbins says

      I really want to try this cuz I have a patio set that I LOVE, but it has two chairs and two benches that I cannot find anywhere to replace them… frustrating for sure! They are so faded, but I don’t want them to be stiff cuz grandkids sit on them, plus scared paint will come off on their bathing suits when wet. I saw a fabric protectant at Lowe’s and was wondering if anyone has ever used it? I don’t want suits ruined or paint to scratch their sensitive skin….any suggestions? Thanks yours is beautiful!

      • I haven’t ever used the fabric protector, unless you mean Scotchguard? That keeps cushions from fading and makes them waterproof, but doesn’t restore color. As a FYI, the paint doesn’t come off on your clothes once it dries.

        Hope that helps!

  10. Hi! I came across this article and just had to try….the cushions are only a year old, i just didn’t like their color. They were tan with a white pattern. It took me more than 1/s can on each. They are so rough. I tried to sand them down by hand a bit, still rough, stiff. I used Rustoleum 2x. This did not work for me….ugh! Oh well, just have to purchase new.

    • So sorry it didn’t work for you! I think my experiment was successful because I was covering black with black, so I just needed one light coat. If I was changing the color, going lighter, or attempting to cover a pattern it would definitely require multiple coats and that would make it stiff.

      Good luck finding gorgeous new cushions!

  11. Wondering how this has held up and for how long? Would like to do my outdoor dining cushions this Spring.

  12. Evelyn Brennan says

    Thank you so much for this helpful tutorial. I had outdoor cushions in some chairs that had fabric in good condition except it was faded in the wrong color. After reading your tutorial I bought rust oleum to 2X In ink blue. It took about one can of paint for each of four cushions for a total of $16 to redo the cushions. They look great you’d never guess they were painted. They’re a little stiff but I think that will change with use . This was so much easier and faster and less expensive than recovering the cushions or buying new ones. I am thrilled with the result. Thank you so much again.

    • That’s great to hear, Evelyn! Wasn’t that such an easy and inexpensive way to refresh your cushions?
      Thanks for taking the time to let me know how yours turned out.

  13. hi There i also read a blog of yours that suggests painting using a fabric medium. spray painting sounds much more appealing time wise. do you highly recommend one form over the other?
    Thanks a bunch!!!!

    • Hey, Carol–
      It honestly depends on what you’re painting and what color you’re painting it. This was by far the easiest method (plain spray paint) but I don’t think it would work or cover well if you were planning to use a lighter color.

      The way I see it, if I’m going to toss old, faded cushions anyway, then painting them is certainly worth a try. Those replacement cushions can get expensive!

      Hope that helps a bit.

  14. Hi, Christy. Thanks for your creative, inspirational post! I have avocado/pea soup color cushions that I’ve decided to paint (can’t find replacement size). I’m thinking coral or lime or teal. Any thoughts about how these colors may work? Thanks!

    • Hey, Susan–
      The darker colors cover best, so teal will be your best bet, especially if you’re covering a pattern. The problem with using too many coats for coverage is that they will get stiff, so that’s why darker is better. It’s always a bit of a gamble, but I figure if the cushions are destined for the trashcan anyway, it’s worth a try.
      Good luck!

  15. Excellent suggestion! Just applied it to faded patio umbrella fabric! Eager to see how fade resistant it is!

  16. Melonie Stewart says

    Can you spray paint any kind of material? Or is it just certain kinds?

    • Hi, Melonie–
      I’m sure you can spray paint anything; the question is just what it will feel/look like when it’s done. I’ve only tried it on these cushions, but I figure that if they’re going in the trash anyway, it’s worth a try!
      Take care,

  17. I am wondering about painting my outdoor umbrella burnt orange. What do you think..?with rustoleum

    • I honestly don’t know because the umbrella moves so much, but the way I see it, if you’re going to have to toss it anyway, it’s worth a try!
      Let me know how it works out-good luck!

  18. Cyndi Mitchell says

    I need new outdoor cushions and they are so expensive ! Gonna head to walmart and get a pretty can of red (they are faded red) and see how it works ! Thanks for the idea

    • I hope it works well for you, Cyndi. I was in the same place–I knew I’d have to buy new ones anyway so I figured it didn’t hurt to try to paint them before I tossed them.You’ll be interested to know that even though I wrote this post YEARS ago, I’m still using the black cushions. Good luck!

  19. deb kidd says

    Buy Fabric and vinyl spray paint at auto dept store

    • Absolutely that’s an option, too. It tends to be more expensive and for this project regular spray paint worked fine. Believe it or not, I STILL use these cushions and it’s now June 2019!

  20. I bought a can of spray paint specifically for fabric and it worker really well. Faded blue became nice bright blue. But it took 1 can to do 2 10×10 pillows. If I spray the other cushions I have it will be a bit spend, altho certainly less than replacing them. But, what I was wondering is if you ever ended up using any of the fabric paint to compare it to the Rustoleum you used?

    • I have used the fabric paint but it was white and covered terribly. In my experience, the darker colors cover better (whether fabric specific paint or regular spray paint). That being said, when it comes to throw pillows, I just buy new ones–they’re $5 at Pier 1 right now for outdoor pillows and you can’t beat that! I still have the black seat cushions and respray them every couple of years. I think I wrote the original post in 2014 so that’s pretty good!

  21. Cherie Hicks says

    Thanks. I’m updating an old brass floor lamp and the shade fabric is in good shape but dingy. I have fabric to replace, but I thought What the heck. Let me spray paint it with the color I have on hand, which matches my LR cushion. I’m going for it! I’ll let you know if it works.

    • Hey, Cherie–it’s definitely worth a try! I’ve spray painted lampshades before and sometimes when the light is turned on the paint looks splotchy, but they look great when the light’s off. I hope yours turns out well–let me know!

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