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Painting Upholstery With Chalk Paint FAQ

Looking to learn more about how to paint upholstery fabric with chalk paint? Here is an easy guide with tons of information and some FAQ.

I learned how to chalk paint fabric a few years ago when I remodeled our entryway and decided to update a family heirloom bench.

The result is amazing and our antique bench has held up really well.

You guys really love that project.

In fact, so do I.

But I also loved painting upholstered furniture with chalk paint on THIS chair and THIS chair.

Since doing all these projects, I’ve have had so many questions about applying chalk paint on fabric and the process.

Thank you so much for all of your interest and comments about painting upholstery fabric!

Yesterday’s comment section was full of them.

I’ve also received some emails with several questions how my fabric upholstery is holding up.

Chalk paint is one of my favorite paints to work with because it’s super simple to use, easy to buy or make, and has helped me transform my home.

So let’s talk about how to chalk paint upholstery fabric with some FAQ.

I’m answering questions (if you have any questions about specific things in the house you can find them here) and giving advice with a little confidence building thrown in there too.

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How to Paint Upholstery Fabric with Chalk Paint

What is Chalk Paint?

To be technical, chalk paint is a registered trademark of the Annie Sloan brand.

However, there are lots of other companies that also make chalk-style paint.

There are also DIY recipes if you want to make your own chalk-style paint.

Chalk paint can be used in a variety of ways.

It can be applied as a solid color.

Or to create a vintage look, sand it down to wear the edges.

I love working with chalk paint because it’s easy to use, cleans up well, and looks great with any home decor.

When chalk paint dries, many DIYers topcoat with wax to seal and protect the color.

However, there are some instances where polyurethane or polycrylic can be used instead.

Where painting upholstery fabric is concerned, I seal each project with a clear wax.

Two Chicks and a Toolbelt

What is the Difference between Chalk Paint and Regular Paint?

Regular paint is different from chalk paint in many ways.

  • With chalk paint, pre-sanding is not necessary. You can paint over most clean and dry surfaces.
  • Chalk paint distresses more easily than regular for an aged, vintage look.
  • It also has a thicker consistency that makes it a little less messy to work with than regular paint while covering rough surfaces more smoothly.
  • And since it is water-based, chalk paint is SUPER EASY to clean.
My typical supplies for chalk painting uphostery projects. I recycled a Windex bottle to use as a water spray bottle. That is NOT Windex.

How to Use Chalk Paint

I love how chalk paint has a matte look when finished.

And the best part?

It can totally update a piece without needing to strip or sand it down first.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a major plus for me!

While chalk paint can be used on different types of surfaces without pre-sanding, I usually lightly sand most pieces that have rough spots or to smooth out the finish before painting.

If painting fabric, it’s important to lightly dampen the fabric before applying chalk paint so it soaks into the fabric better.

But regardless of whether you pre-sand or not, always clean each piece well before applying chalk paint to remove dirt and grease so the paint adheres better.

And if a surface is pre-sanded, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove all the dust before painting.

In general, chalk paint typically covers in 1-2 coats of paint.

When working with fabric, however, it covers in roughly 2-3 coats.

That said, it all really depends on the look you want to achieve.

You’ll know how many coats are needed while you work.

Painting Upholstery Fabric with Chalk Paint

Can I Use Chalk Paint on Upholstery?

The answer is YES!

You can chalk paint upholstery.

Fabric is super easy to paint with chalk paint.

Painting Chair Upholstery Fabric

And it works really well on upholstery fabric, cotton, linen, and velvet.

From my experience, I found that textured fabrics tend to finish a little rougher than smoother fabrics.

So you’ll want to lightly sand textured fabric down between coats before sealing.

Painting Chair Upholstery Fabric

How Well Does Chalk Paint on Upholstery Hold Up?

I recommend using low to mid-traffic pieces when painting upholstery fabric.

The pieces I refinished held up really well, but they are not high traffic furniture pieces.

They are more like occasional or rarely used pieces.

How Does Chalk Painted Upholstery Fabric Feel?

Painted upholstery fabric feels smooth and a little like tough leather.

So it won’t feel as soft as it did before painting it.

As mentioned before, if you apply chalk paint on fabric that is textured, lightly sand it down to get it as smooth as possible between coats.

How to Paint Fabric Upholstery

How Can I Make Fabric Paint Not Be Stiff?

Use a fabric medium to help the paint absorb better into the fabric.

I like to mix a 3:1 ratio of chalk paint with fabric medium.

And it’s also a good idea to dampen the fabric with some water before applying chalk paint.

This helps the paint soak into the fabric better.

painting upholstery fabric

Do You Have to Seal Chalk Paint?

Yes.

It is very important to seal chalk paint with a wax or poly topcoat.

Choosing which is better is a matter of preference and depends on the project.

How to Paint Fabric Upholstery

For most projects, I prefer wax because it protects the color and looks better in my opinion.

When painting upholstery or other types of fabrics, wax is best to seal the paint and protect the color.

Painting Chair Upholstery Fabric

What Kind of Brushes Should I Use to Apply Chalk Paint to Upholstery?

Choosing what paintbrush you use is a matter of preference.

Some prefer the round brushes, while others prefer regular paint brushes like this one.

In general, I grab whatever is handy.

For larger projects, I like using a larger brush to cover more area.

And if I need to get into smaller crevices, I’ll grab a smaller craft-size paintbrush.

Painting Chair Upholstery Fabric

Where Can I Buy Chalk Paint?

If you want to buy official chalk paint, Annie Sloan is the only source.

But there are several other brand options out there that make similar products.

For example, Home Depot sells a variety of products by Behr and Rust-Oleum

Chalk-style paint products can also be found at most craft supply stores like Michael’s.

Amazon also sells chalky-style paints.

It’s pretty easy to find sources of chalk-style paint.

And if you don’t want to buy?

You can make your own using this recipe.

Painting upholstery fabric FAQ

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Painting Upholstery Fabric with Chalk Paint FAQ

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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8 Comments

  1. This is awesome! I have a chair that I have been wanting to paint. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Blessings to you

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  3. I really need to try this! Thanks for the great info, Stacy. Love how your pieces turned out.