Painting an Upholstered Chair with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

Chairs are such a solid investment when it comes to furniture purchases. You can find chairs in secondhand stores, op shops, roadside and your grandmother’s shed. They are everywhere. When buying or finding a chair, look for solid features, line, design, shape. Don’t worry too much about the finish of the chair. They can be sanded, varnished, oiled, painted – and yes, even fabric chairs can be given new life with a lick of paint! You may want to change the fabric, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble and expense, you can always paint it with chalk paint! I created this look a few years ago after reading about how to chalk paint fabric chairs, and seeing some amazing results. So IΒ  decided to have a go with one of these two little bedroom chairs I found on the side of the road. I loved the shape of these chairs but was not keen on the skirt or the fabric. I do love old fashioned patterns in fabrics, but was not keen on the overall feel of the chair. So in I went with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Napoleonic Blue – one of my absolute favourites. This is an update of the original post, which is one of our most popular posts ever!

How to paint an upholstered chair with Chalk Paint

1.First, spray the chair down with some water to make sure the fabric is a little damp. Use some water on the brush with the paint each time as well. You are trying to work the paint into the fabric, not just paint on the surface.

2.Have a tub of water nearby with your paint so you can keep the paint quite wet. Also used a quality bristle brush. You want the brush to be able to hold lots of paint and have a lovely finish. I also used a small paintbrush later to touch up small areas, the buttons and the trim.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial3. Begin your chair painting with quite thin layers paint, with more water in the mix. Then as you work, add more paint and less water to cover the patterns – not the texture. I have read some people have had trouble covering patterned fabrics, and that is one reason I chose the dark colour, other than the fact I love this colour!

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

4. If you have buttons like me, dab and swirl the brush to get right into the depth of the buttons. This worked well for me. You could also use a smaller brush like a stencil brush on buttons or other deep areas.

5. As this had a skirt, I cut it off and trimmed it as much as possible, but left a frayed feeling as I liked the vintage industrial vibe it gives to the chair. I also ripped off the old carpet underlay someone had put on the feet to protect a floor, as now they were visible. Later I used copper spray paint on the bottom edge and the feet and then sanded them back a little to give a distressed look with some blue showing through.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

6. How many coats you will need depends on the chait and your personal preference. I just love how the embossed pattern and the buttons are highlighted with the paint. It took really only one overall coat – but is more like one and a half to two coats, as I went over some areas. You really have to go with it on the day as to what finish you want.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

7. Use stippling or dabbing brush stroke to get into the nails on the back and around the seams.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

8. This was the first go with the trimming of the skirt – later I cut all of this off.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

9. Spray painting the legs and trim – later I used a small paintbrush to tidy up around the trim and distressed the legs.

10. One of the most important steps is to wax and sand the chair to seal the finish. Just as you would with a timber piece, the wax helps to seal the paint. It also gives it a more buttery finish. You can use any non-toxic clear wax. I used a beeswax. You could use a tinted wax if you wanted to alter the colour.

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

how to take an old upholstered chair and paint it with chalk paint! A simple process of paint, sand and wax - with no need to change the fabric! Step by Step tutorial

And the feel of the chair? This is the question most people ask!

To begin with the chair may feel a little like a canvas chair – actually quite comfortable and no paint coming off. If you have a softer fabric than mine, with the wax the chair can feel more like a soft leather. A few years later my chair has held well and still retains the paint.

Helen

xx

Here is a tutorial with Annie Sloan which you might also find useful.

**Originally posted in 2014

114 Comments

  1. Recycled Interiors on September 11, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Annie Sloan Unfolded

  2. MarnΓ© Roesch on September 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

    No I have not used it, didn’t know its available in Aus?

  3. Natasha Andrews on September 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

    ohh I didn’t know you had done a chair – off to check it out – I really want to try one πŸ™‚

  4. NatashaAndrews on September 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

    How did the fabric feel after you came back and did you try waxing? I have a few chairs I want to try but I am concerned with the feel once I paint it!

  5. Recycled Interiors on September 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

    a while ago Natasha Andrews but doing another one shortly!

  6. Kirsty Williams on September 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Nicole Isles another option

  7. Tracey Hutchison Verbakel on September 11, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Ann Verbakel!

  8. Ann Verbakel on September 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Keeping this one!

  9. Recycled Interiors on September 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    oh yes! MarnΓ© Roesch very much so – you can get it from Brocante in the Barossa here in Adelaide :0

  10. Megan McLean on September 12, 2014 at 7:12 am

    I am definitely doing this…thinking on it around 2.30 am this morning!

  11. Recycled Interiors on September 12, 2014 at 7:19 am

    brilliant! please share Megan McLean

  12. Nina Sampson on January 30, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Jackie Walz maybe I can paint that arm chair??

  13. Jackie Walz on January 30, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Yep, go for it!!

  14. Lee Bartlett on January 30, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Wow very nice

  15. Denise Bullen on January 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Kylie Collyer, have you seen this use for chalk paint

  16. Kylie Collyer on January 30, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    wow I love the chair, I had no idea!

  17. Laura Stewart Schuetz on January 31, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Joanna Schuetz

  18. Joanna Schuetz on January 31, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Thanks Laura. I have nearly finished my ottoman.

  19. Laura Stewart Schuetz on January 31, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Looks great!

  20. Recycled Interiors on January 31, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    we will be sharing more soon on these kinds of projects Kylie Collyer πŸ™‚

  21. Recycled Interiors on January 31, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    thank you Lee Bartlett!

  22. Michelle Coley on January 31, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Jason Skinner

  23. Jason Skinner on January 31, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    WOW

  24. Kathryn Kock on August 6, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Looks great Helen! Another chalk paint project for us Cara Gomez πŸ™‚

  25. Liv Morgan on August 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

    JUlie Morgan

  26. Nanette Donlon on August 6, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Oh wow!

  27. Dani Ellem on August 6, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Caroline Jansen

  28. Kass Mickel on August 6, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Did you find the paint quite firm on the fabric? I cant seem to find a chalk paint that doesnt go really firm? Anyone else tried it?

  29. Ervina Ng on August 6, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Stacie O’Neill Did u know this?

  30. Carmen Dias Jreij on August 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Sonia Jreij this is cool

  31. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Kass Mickel you need to sandpaper it and wax it just like timber. I find it like a canvas chair but not overly hard πŸ™‚

  32. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    thanks Kathryn Kock

  33. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:17 am

    πŸ™‚

  34. Sonia Jreij on August 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Thats made!!!

  35. Kass Mickel on August 6, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I just found some fabric paints to dry very hard and the fabric looses its softness.

  36. Stacie O'Neill on August 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Yes Ervina I did, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it U0001f633

  37. Jess Macdonald on August 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Erin! U0001f603 From expensive material costs and 2 full days of cutting and sewing and tacking and sweating and consuming gallons of lemon drink, down to A FEW HOURS!

  38. Bubble Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 10:27 am

    wow that’s unreal Recycled Interiors πŸ™‚

  39. Sheralee Rae on August 6, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Amy Louise Grovenor ☺

  40. Joanne Petrovski on August 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Maybe i should try this to your red lounge chair Susan Petrovski ?

  41. Kymbalee Johnsen on August 6, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I’m the same. I don’t find the chair comfortable to sit on after. I did sandpaper the fabric a lot so it’s lovely and smooth but when you sit on it it’s hard.

  42. Kym Clarke on August 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Prue Clarke

  43. Susan Petrovski on August 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Does it come off on your bum Joanne Petrovski?

  44. Catherine Beard on August 6, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Tina Stanley Jessica Lee Burnetthow cool is this!

  45. Kass Mickel on August 6, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Yeah i have tried every product and softening agent and even googled other crazy remedies to help but nothing keeps the chair fabric soft?

  46. Tina Stanley on August 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    What are you thinking of trying it on?

  47. Decorative metal panels from Heritage Ceilings on August 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Wow! Impressive.

  48. Catherine Beard on August 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Nothing in particular. Just thought it was a cool idea.

  49. Destiny Field on August 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Jess Wren

  50. Tracy Norris on August 6, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Destiny Mark

  51. Sue Woodgate on August 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Elise

  52. Vilma Hing on August 6, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Does it work on any fabrics?

  53. Trish Farrell on August 6, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Wow that’s amazing,where do you get the chalk paint from Bunnings ?

  54. Debbie Purdey on August 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Looks great and so different how much paint would it take and what would it cost please

  55. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Debbie Purdey you can get a few different chalk paints, the Annie Sloan is about $70 for a tin, you only need a cup or two for something like this πŸ™‚ where are you based?

  56. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    hmmm Maybe it is just a different type of fabric Kass Mickel Kymbalee Johnsen but did you use plenty of water when painting, like water the chalk paint right down?

  57. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    thanks!!

  58. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Trish Farrell you can get it from your local Annie Sloan stockist, look on their website πŸ™‚

  59. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    πŸ™‚

  60. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    apparently Vilma Hing but i have not used it on all fabrics, but it is worth a try!

  61. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    no Susan Petrovski πŸ™‚

  62. Vilma Hing on August 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful idea!

  63. Kass Mickel on August 6, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Yeah i did with my last project… I think its just trial and error too with projects U0001f60a

  64. Patricia Miller on August 6, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Annie Sloan paint available from Reluisant in Queenscliffe

  65. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Definitely Kass Mickel

  66. Recycled Interiors on August 6, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks Patricia

  67. Elise Paulger on August 7, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Very clever

  68. Sarah Kassis Alkhal on August 7, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Jacky Kassis Turano

  69. Recycled Interiors on August 7, 2015 at 10:44 am

    you are welcome πŸ™‚

  70. Vicky Baker on August 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Really wow

  71. Vicky Baker on August 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Shane Whalley look out i be painting fabric now lol

  72. jayne on September 8, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    i tried this and followed all your instruction but the paint cracked and flaked, what am i doing wrong?

  73. Recycled_Interiors on September 21, 2015 at 8:57 am

    @jayne hmmm did you use lots of water and push the paint into the fabric? and then wax and sand?

  74. Kimberley Wilkins on December 10, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Going to try thisU0001f60a

  75. Recycled Interiors on December 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    go for it, be sure to use plenty of water and push the paint into the fabric and remember to sand and wax as usual πŸ™‚

  76. Melissa Morelli on December 10, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Gianna Morelli- could be an option??

  77. Gianna Morelli on December 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Could be! U0001f44d

  78. Shari Ivers on December 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I know how fantastic is this !!!!

  79. Jessika Ahlgren on December 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    You can paint fabric.!!!
    Wow!!
    That paint is the best

  80. Riley Sinclair Moran on January 18, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Killed the chair U0001f615 it was lovely the way it was.

  81. Lyndal Beer on January 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    I just painted a couple of $5 KMart cushions with copper paint. πŸ™‚

  82. Recycled Interiors on January 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    fair enough each to their own πŸ™‚

  83. Maureen Garratt on January 18, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I’m loving this idea, cheaper than upholsteringU0001f380

  84. Helene Wild on January 18, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    so cool. πŸ™‚

  85. Riley Sinclair Moran on January 18, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Yes each to their own πŸ™‚

  86. Sue Mary VanderBoon Madigan on January 18, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Ann Podobnik Sutherland…haven’t read the article

  87. Kass Mickel on January 18, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Does it make the fabric go quite firm? Or keep it soft? Always find painting the fabric makes it go really firm and crunchy

  88. Recycled Interiors on January 18, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    if you wax and sand like a timber project it feels like a canvas chair but not crunchy. Mine has held for over 18 months and feels nice U0001f60a

  89. Kass Mickel on January 18, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Ok awesome! Thanks! ☺️

  90. Emma Joy Beitz on January 18, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Liz Strutt. This would be another option rather than reupholstering

  91. Ingrid Howell on January 18, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Still cant get my head around it U0001f615

  92. Emma Ihms Shobbrook on January 18, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Jennifer- try this for me!!!

  93. Fatema Fou Fou on January 18, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    What a great idea! From what I heard it ends up feeling like outdoor furniture fabric?

  94. Recycled Interiors on January 19, 2016 at 5:43 am

    i know yeah! but it’s a thing

  95. Recycled Interiors on January 19, 2016 at 5:44 am

    if you wax and sand it is reasonably soft. Slight canvas feel but mine has softened and held well over time. The sand and wax is important U0001f60a

  96. Katie Maher on January 19, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Wendy Cole – trendy before your time!!

  97. Manz Riddiford on January 19, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Preferred the before photo

  98. Melanie Nolan on January 19, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Aaron Geary we should do this to your hideous man chair!

  99. Jane Bown on January 20, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Norm Shaz Julia check out this chalk paint chair!

  100. Norm Shaz Kemp on January 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

    How awesome…. Not sure about it being an everyday sit on chair but willing to give it a go…

  101. Denee on April 16, 2016 at 11:21 am

    How do you clean it?!?! I’m in the process of painting one and my husband asked that question. I just told him I hadn’t gotten that far yet. πŸ˜‰

    • Helen Edwards on April 25, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      I just use a soft cloth and a little bit of water if needed, and then a bit more of a wax

  102. Helene Wild on May 21, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my favourite blue!

  103. Recycled_Interiors on May 25, 2016 at 7:53 am

    mine too!

  104. Recycled_Interiors on May 25, 2016 at 7:53 am

    @Denee I have used a soft damp cloth and worked fine, and then another wax πŸ™‚

  105. Recycled_Interiors on May 25, 2016 at 7:53 am

    It is actually quite comfy to sit on!

  106. cat on June 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I was so excited to try this so first started our with my arm chair covers. Β I have done 2 coats and its so blotchy I am so disappointed. I tried diluting the annie sloan chalk paint (cocoa) and then also tried spraying and keeping upholstery wet. Β anyone else have this problem. Β AND how many coats does one have to do? I need some insight.thanks

    • Helen Edwards on June 6, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Hmm one of the keys is to water the paint down but also to really push the paint into the fabric and let it sink in rather than paint it on the top – do you have a picture you could send me? And what type of fabric is it?

  107. cat on June 1, 2016 at 11:34 am

    @Denee Β  How was your project going?>

  108. Nanette Donlon on July 5, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I can never decide whether I like the before or after better… U0001f602

  109. Jacqueline Ellis on July 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Does the material remain soft and does it wear off

  110. Recycled Interiors & The Sustainable Home Hub on July 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    You need to sand and wax it like timber and can do maintenance waxing. I have found it a little harder than original, like a canvas chair, but still quite soft with the wax πŸ™‚

  111. Kay Roberts on December 27, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I, myself, am not crazy about this…I don’t know how it would feel, as I don’t love the feel of even painted furniture with the chalk paints.

    • Helen Edwards on January 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      that is fair enough. We all like different things – it is surprising how soft it actually feels, and in particular on materials such as vinyl. This chair is still going strong a few years later!

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