How to Transform a Chair with Chalk Paint

Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don't pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Read our full privacy and disclosure policy here.



It never ceases to amaze me what a little paint can do.  Just a few years ago, I would never imagined you could paint the fabric on a chair to change the color, but as you saw in Christy’s tutorial HERE, it actually is a simple and easy way to bring new life to a piece of furniture.




We’ve had this red chair for several years. My Mother passed it on to us when she redecorated her living room a few years ago, though it originally was my Grandmother’s so it means more to me than a new piece would. My parents had it reupholstered in a heavy red linen so while in great shape it didn’t match a thing in our house. I priced getting it reupholstered in gray fabric but unfortunately the cost was as much as a new chair.

How to Paint a Fabric (Upholstered) Chair with Chalk Paint

Since the only thing wrong with the chair was the color, and I loved the style of it, I figured trying a little paint was worth it.  I started off following our tutorial HERE--first mixing some gray paint I had on hand with fabric medium and water combination. Like other painted fabric projects, the first coat made me a little nervous since the fabric absorbed the paint quickly and the red clearly showed through.


The second coat (which above you can see I had just started on the front) made a big difference and the chair started showing some promise.



At this point, I decided I didn’t like the sheen on the fabric from the paint–there may have been a bit too much gloss in the paint I used–but the result looked a bit off.  I decided I needed to go a different route. I popped into the store to pick up some chalk paint and give that a try.  Using the chalk paint was even simpler since you don’t need to mix in fabric medium, you just use chalk paint and water.  I used ASCP Paris Gray and the results were great.



This is just another route to refreshing a chair with paint. Both techniques will work–you can either use craft (or flat latex) paint with fabric medium OR you can use chalk paint and water, the later is the route I went with this chair. You can see the finished result below:



I started by simply giving the fabric a good mist of water from a regular spray bottle and then just painted on the chalk paint, you want the fabric to be wet first.  It took two more coats of paint but the finish came out perfectly. I did add a little more water directly to the paint so it would be thin enough to get in all the grooves around the trim and cover up all the red.



Everyone who sits on this chair marvels that it is painted, if they even notice at all. Even my husband who was enormously skeptical was impressed with the outcome.  Here is the side-by-side, it just looks so much fresher and up to date now.


before after painted chair

After the paint dried, I tacked on some nailhead trim {but ran out of nails, those are on order and the final result will be much straighter when they arrive} to jazz up the bottom. I have not yet put ASCP wax on this chair, though I still might. The wax would probably protect it since it is a light color and that spells trouble with kids, pets and snacks around.

I have been asked what does it feel like? It’s hard to explain but I don’t think you can tell that it’s been painted. The fabric is a little stiffer–more like fabric you would see outdoors and feels cooler to the touch–but otherwise it doesn’t look or feel much different from an unpainted chair. The paint doesn’t wear off either.




For now the chair is sitting in our family room but it may get moved into either our Library or up to our Master Bedroom. It’s a bit small compared to the over sized furniture being made today but it’s still nice and comfortable to sit in. We’ll see where it ends up, now it is a nice neutral color so it will fit in many spots in our home.



If there is one thing we’ve discovered from this process, it’s to not to let a piece of furniture go to waste just because you don’t like the color, it’s so easy to change!

For other Chalk Paint Tips & Tricks, see this post HERE.

See our Top 10 Painted Projects HERE.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments…


small-amy-new-headshot-summer-2016-2 copy
icon-facebook-1icon-instagram-1icon-pinterest-1icon-twitter-1NEW Google+

We have a You Tube Channel, you can see our videos HERE!

Our posts contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we will earn a small commission, which helps to keep our content free.  You don’t pay a cent more than you would otherwise, since that would be tacky! Please see our full disclosure policy here.

Click here to subscribe


{affiliate links in this post are included for your convenience, see our disclosure policy here}


  1. So curious what this chair feels like with the paint on it?? You really can’t tell it’s painted?

    • Hi Ashleigh! Great question–I will go back and answer this in the post as well as I should have included it. The fabric does feel different, I would describe it more like outdoor fabric now but it isn’t uncomfortably stiff, it feels soft to sit on it. I don’t think you can tell it was painted–if you get very close the fabric looks a bit different than a new chair would be but it’s not immediately obvious–at least in my opinion!

  2. You read my mind Ashleigh!! I was just going to ask what it feels like?

    • Hi Caitlin–I described more of what it feels like in Ashleigh’s question and I am going to edit the post and address this. Sorry I didn’t include it in the first place!

  3. How durable is the chair now to be cleaned? Would it be good for active family with younger kids?

  4. It looks lovely! Love the color you chose. I have a Parsons chair that needs a new look and I think I might try this! I have never upholstered anything so have procrastinated about changing the chair. Thanks so much for sharing all the details!


  5. HI. I have outdoor pillows (that match some cushions a friend gave me). I like the pattern but would like to add some blue to it. I’ve used fabric paint but that just washed right out – probably because it is some type of Sunbrella fabric. Do you think chalk or milk paint would soak in and be more sustainable? I may have to seal it with something else since its on an open deck also. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  6. Elsie Weaver says

    Can this technique work on vinal, that supposed leather look

    • Hmmm… I haven’t tried it with vinyl. You may want to spot test? A chalk paint retailer might be able to give you better advice since I don’t have any personal experience. Thanks!

  7. Diane Sundholm says

    How much chalk paint do you think I would need to convert a dark blue loves eat to turquoise? Also, I plan to use it on a semi-covered patio. Is there a sealer I should use to protect it from the elements? I live in San Diego.

    • Hi Diane–I would think a can of chalk paint (the regular size of say an Annie Sloan paint, NOT the sample size) would work b/c you mix it with water, so it should go pretty far. Unfortunately my chair isn’t outside so I can’t vouch for what will happen if it exposed to the elements, I am sorry! Good luck with your project! Amy

  8. Now that it’s been been a year since you made this post, how is the chair holding up? If you get a small spill like red wine are you able to spot clean it or would the paint come off? Thank you for your reply!

  9. Dale Doucette says

    Do you have to spray the fabric with water again in between coats of paint or only on the first coat?

    • Hi Dale, no you don’t have to spray with water as long as you are mixing the paint with water. However, if you don’t feel like it is going on as smoothly or absorbing well, it won’t hurt to spray a little water on.

  10. I love how your chair came out and I’m super excited to try this on my nursery glider and ottoman. I wish I had seen this before I spent $175 on slipcovers that don’t even fit! Did you ever end up putting wax or anything over the paint? I think it might be a good idea for me since it is in the nursery. Any advice on what to use?

    • Hi Amanda, I think you could wax it successfully, especially if it’s going in a nursery and something may get spilled on it. It is very durable–it is paint–but that might be a good extra step. I would be careful to try it on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t discolor it too much. I can’t make any promises since I didn’t wax my chair, but I would think it would work out OK! Good luck 🙂 Amy

  11. I have painted one chair with acrylic paint and fabric medium and was wondering whether you noticed any difference in the chair painted with chalk paint and that painted with acrylic + fabric medium. I read on another blog that the feel was completely different but I am a bit sceptical.

    • Hi Meg, Unfortunately I did the chalk paint project and Christy did the acrylic/fabric medium technique so the chairs aren’t side by side to compare. I think mine feels nice, it’s just ‘cool’ to the touch unlike a softer fabric. That is the best way to describe it, I am sorry I can’t be more specific! I really think either way will work, based on what supplies you have on hand. —Amy

  12. I am excited about reading this book. LOVED Plan B. I am continually inspired by how God uses you and your ministry to minister to me in my life and the lives of others. You reach us where we are without condemning us for being there. Thank you.

  13. ? How do you keep from getting the stuffing below the material from getting wet and mildewing? Does the liquid not soak through the fabric and get into the underlayers? (I don’t know why this is in caps my caps is not on.. sorry for the caps)

  14. rusty wilson says

    are there other chalk paints other than annie sloan? do stores like lows carry chalk pinr?

  15. I think the chair is beautiful. I have 2 hand me downs that I love but wrong color. About the water. You spray the chair prior to painting, then how much water do you add to the chalk paint to cover it. And no medium with chalk paint?

    • You don’t need to use fabric medium with the chalk paint. I’d start by adding a small amount of water and if you need more, add it. It’s just to help the paint spread evenly, and saturate the fabric but not be too thin. I hope that makes sense!

  16. You learn something new everyday and, for me extremely excited to try painting my upholstered kitchen chairs (to revitalize the faded red). Many great ideas but am seeing using latex or acrylic with the textile medium. Any difference??? Also, what is the best sheen to use? I’ve read flat and then semi-gloss so not sure what the outcome would be. Any advice?? I appreciate all the great tips I’ve read about.

  17. If you have a chair that has trim as well as fabric to paint which do you recommend painting first?

    • HI Lynne, I did them at the same time, but I would probably say trim first to avoid too much paint building up in the seam. Good luck with your project! XO Amy

  18. I used chalk paint (water based) and I love the way it looked. a week later i rubbed a spot with a cloth and water (that my daughter dropped something on) and some of the paint rubbed off! Is there a way to sell in the color so it doesn’t rub off? very frustrating, now i will have to repaint.

    • HI Michelle, sorry you had trouble after you finished painting your chair. I haven’t had any issues with mine rubbing off, but since chalk paint is water based I can understand why scrubbing at it could maybe make that happen, especially depending on what fabric was on the chair to start. I don’t know of a product that would seal it, you could try some wax but that could also make it a little gummy? I know that it is frustrating to not have a good result. Take care, Amy

  19. I love the chairs and everything that y’all do.!! what type of paint brush did you use? was it one designed especially for chalk paint?
    thank you so much!!
    ps – I apologize for the all caps. i could not turn them off. 🙂

  20. What kind of wax do you recommend and how is it applied to fabric? Loved your results and would like to tackle a sofa with chalk paint.

  21. jennifer sturman says

    My dining chairs have nailhead trim front and back. When using chalk paint do I just paint over that and wipe them off? how do I work around that?

    • HI Jennifer, I’d remove the nailhead trim before you paint. If you like the look then you can add it back on after you paint but I don’t think you will be happy with the results if you paint it. Good luck with your project! XO, Amy

  22. Do you think chalk paint would work on a lampshade? Also, what ratio of paint to water?

  23. I chalk painted my moleskin kitchen chairs and they turned out great. I just waxed them. How long should I wait before I sit on them?

Speak Your Mind


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

© 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved