Upholstered Dining Chairs: Painting Fabric with Amy Howard Chalk Paint

Before and After text Lynn Chairs

I’ve been wanting to try this for a while, and I finally got to do it this week!  A friend of mine had two upholstered chairs that she wanted restyled.  She had looked into reupholstery, slipcovers, and even getting new chairs when I mentioned that people are painting fabric with chalk paint.  She is a brave and gracious friend and excitedly asked if I would help her with this project, even after I confessed I had never painted fabric before.  So straight to YouTube I went, looking up the process and which brand works best.  After a little research I decided on Amy Howard for this project, since it seemed like people were able to do it in less time and with less coats than with Annie Sloan.

Here is one of the chairs before:

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She picked the AH color Atelier Gray, a beautiful mid-tone gray with lavender undertones.  We watered it down just a little, roughly 20% water in our tupperware.  Then we went to work painting, each of us taking a chair and brushing it on!  It was pretty easy.  We knew it would take more than one coat, but I was pleased that even with the first coat the coverage was pretty even.

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One coat

Dry time was only 30 minutes, so since we started on the seat by the time we moved to the back (entire back is also upholstered) we could start the second coat on the front again.  Here is it after a second coat:

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Two coats

The second coat seemed like a took a little longer to dry so we stopped and had lunch.  We noticed some stains coming through, likely previous stains coming up that had been cleaned off the surface.  Unfortunate, but not much we could do about it except keep going and hope for the best!

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So a third coat went on, and things really started to look good!

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People say (including Amy Howard) that the fabric is still flexible and supple after painting, but I think that description is open to interpretation.  We thought it felt like outdoor fabric–kind of stiff.  There were even rough spots that felt a little scratchy on your hand.  So I decided to take some sandpaper to it.  What a difference!  I barely sanded with a very fine 220 grit paper and the chairs felt super smooth after that.  I talked with my friend this morning and she said they still feel cold to the touch (even several days later) and a little stiff, but soft at least.

We ended up using almost the whole quart to paint these two chairs.  Not bad–for less than $40 her dining room table has a new look with an updated gray palette!

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I love her dining room.  Elegant, but livable.  Totally my style.

So, have any of you tried painting fabric with chalk paint?  Please tell me about your experience!  Which paint you used, wax/no wax, how it’s holding up, etc.  I’ve got a few chairs at my house I’m thinking of tackling soon 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Upholstered Dining Chairs: Painting Fabric with Amy Howard Chalk Paint

  1. I had read somewhere that you’re supposed to spray the fabric with water first , then chalk paint. Did you do this as I didn’t see it posted.

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  2. Hi Paula! I have read the same thing when using Annie Sloan chalk paint on fabric. With Amy Howard brand you just paint without wetting it down first, which is what we did here. So I guess it depends on which brand of paint you are using. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I’ve heard that putting a wax coat on top makes it feel like soft leather… any thoughts about waxing fabric after it’s painted?

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  4. Hi Theresa! Fabric does tent to feel a lot like soft leather with wax on top. I have been a little disappointed with the wear-the paint tends to rub and looks worn quickly with this method. But, still much cheaper than reupholstering!

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