Using Chalk Paint to Paint Fabric Update 06/2022

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on new furniture but yet want a fresh look in your home, consider painting existing upholstery. Chalk paint can transform an old dresser into a brand new piece of furniture, but it can also be used to upcycle an old armchair, couch, or throw cushion! Painting fabric with chalk paint creates a rainbow of vibrant ways to spruce up your home.

Chalk paint, fabric medium, and a sealer are all needed to paint cloth with chalk paint. Stenciling and spray painting are two techniques that can be used to swiftly rejuvenate an outdated piece of upholstery. Annie Sloane, Rustoleum, and handmade paint are all popular brands of chalk paint for cloth.

In this post, you’ll learn why chalk paint is so good for cloth. You’ll learn five fundamental techniques, including how to paint a fabric chair, that you can try out. Finally, you’ll learn how to keep your fabric supple and sealed.

Painting Fabric With Chalk Paint

What is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is a thick, matte-finish water-based paint that gives wood a powdery, antique effect. Today, you can get all kinds of chalk paint variants or even manufacture your own, thanks to the Annie Sloan brand. This water-based paint is simple to clean.

There are only a few simple ingredients in chalk paint, whether you create it yourself or buy it. Water, acrylic coloring compounds, and a fine powder such as plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate are all ingredients in chalk paint.

Annie Sloan and Rustoleum are two popular brands, while generic versions are also available. For large pieces of upholstery, Rustoleum has a series of spray paints that you could find useful.

This type of paint may be applied over a variety of other materials, including old paint, and it is thick enough to lay smooth and look great! It’s good for painting cloth because of its chalky, thick character.

Chalk paint is not the same as chalkboard paint–you can buy chalkboard paint in a variety of colors these days–but chalkboard paint is designed to transform a hard surface into a chalkboard that you can write on with chalk and does not work well on cloth.

Instead of the firm, brilliant surface of a chalkboard, chalk paint has a powdery, matte finish. Consider it to be more like chalk than a chalkboard in appearance and feel!

Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Fabric?

Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Fabric

You may use chalk paint on fabric in a variety of ways, including a thick coat, stenciling to create patterns, and dying the cloth with a color wash. Painting fabric objects like upholstered furniture or throw pillows is a cheap and simple way to add brilliant color to your house, and it’s been increasingly trendy in the last 10 years or so.

Low cost, quick application, and simple sealing for permanence are all advantages of applying chalk paint on fabric. It also emits no noxious fumes and is far less hazardous than many other types of paint.

Of course, there is a cost to this bright, vibrant painting technique, as there is with everything in life. The most common complaint after painting fabric with chalk paint is that it looks nice but doesn’t feel as soft as the original fabric.

Another thing to keep in mind is that because chalk paint is water-based, it cleans off rather simply from most surfaces. However, once it has been sealed or set on cloth, it will be difficult to remove or change unless you want to paint over it with a different color.

Finally, compare and contrast the finished appearance of chalk-painted fabric with cloth painted using fabric paint or acrylic paint. Each style of paint has a different finish and level of vibrancy, but they all look great on a fabric surface.

Painting Fabric With Chalk Paint

Depending on the effect you want to achieve, you can use chalk paint to paint cloth in a variety of ways. The simplest approach is to use a paintbrush to paint the fabric of a chair or couch, exactly like you would on wood! To create more creative styles, you can also use spray paint, a color wash, or stencils.

Consider the type of surface you’ll be painting on and the style you wish to achieve before deciding on a chalk paint method. Do you wish to update a throw pillow, for example? In this situation, you might dye the pillowcase with a color wash or stencil shapes or stripes on it with ease. You probably won’t want to use a paintbrush because the soft surface won’t hold up to it.

Upholstery, on the other hand, works nicely with brushwork or spray paint, especially if you take the time to tape off any non-paint surfaces.

How does the cloth appear now? If the previous cloth has a bright pattern, you may wish to cover it up with darker paint.

What kind of cloth is it, too? Most upholstery fabrics, including velour, tapestry weaves, denim, linen, and even leather, can be painted. It’s possible that material with a deep nap won’t work as well.

Finally, you must decide whether or not your project requires the use of a fabric medium.

Chalk Paint and Fabric Medium

When it comes to applying chalk paint to fabric, there are differing viewpoints on whether or not you need a fabric medium. Instead of generating a hard, crackly surface, fabric medium thins paint and makes it lie nicely over fabric. If you don’t use a medium, your paint will split and peel when it dries on the cloth.

You may require a commercial fabric medium to give a soft and smooth finish on your fabric for various jobs. However, instead of buying a true fabric medium, you may typically just use water.

You can easily thin chalk paint by combining it with water because it is water-based. This allows you to paint a smooth, solid coat of cloth color without cracking or rough edges. A 1:1 mix of water and chalk paint works nicely for many applications when applied with a brush.

Alternatively, dampen the fabric well using a spray bottle or mister before applying straight paint. Stenciling or striping the fabric can be easier with this method.

Some artists, on the other hand, combine chalk paint with a cloth material. Fabric mediums can be purchased at almost any craft store, such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. You can also order a medium from companies like DecoArt or Tulip via the internet.

Painting Fabric with Rustoleum Chalk Paint

One of the most popular brands of chalk paint on the market is Rustoleum. This company offers a wide range of colors, which makes them a popular choice for home decor projects!

You can also get spray paint chalk paint from Rustoleum if you prefer that way of application.

There are various advantages and disadvantages to employing a spray paint version of chalk paint. The advantage is that this type of paint is easy to apply in smooth, level coats. The disadvantage is that it does not always provide the thick, chalky depth that brush-applied paint produces.

If you use spray paint, you may need to apply many coats.

However, this method also results in professionally smooth layering, so it’s worth a shot!

  1. Vacuum the cloth surface to remove any lint or fluff, and cleanse any crud or grime with a clean rag.
  2. You’ll need to tape off any non-painted surfaces, such as the wooden arms and legs of a chair or a couch. Because spray paint can get everywhere, use painter’s tape and/or plastic wrap to completely cover these surfaces!
  3. Similarly, if you can’t work outside, make sure you have a safe and sheltered workspace by laying down a drop cloth, wearing a mask, and ensuring proper ventilation.
  4. Prepare the paint can according to the manufacturer’s directions. To get chalk paint cans ready, you usually have to shake them vigorously.
  5. Apply the spray paint in an even coat using smooth, leisurely back-and-forth motions. If you can still see splotches of fabric through the paint, don’t worry! You may need a second coat later, but don’t overapply the initial layer and risk drips.
  6. Allow the first coat to dry overnight after you’ve finished it.
  7. In the morning, inspect the paint job. Take out some very fine sandpaper and lightly sand the paint over the fabric if you find any gritty areas. Then wipe away the sanded paint dust with a damp paper towel.
  8. Apply a second coat if the paint appears to be too thin or splotchy at this point.
  9. If necessary, sanding and wiping should be repeated.
  10. Finally, use a sealant like Rustoleum furniture wax or a spray wax sealant to protect your wood.

How to Paint Upholstery With Chalk Paint

How to Paint Upholstery With Chalk Paint

A simple brushing approach, followed by sanding and sealing, is one of the best ways to paint upholstery using chalk paint. This is the most popular way for using chalk paint on fabric furniture of any kind. You can also use this technique to apply a solid coat of color or to make patterned shapes or stripes with chalk paint by brushing over a stencil.

  1. To thin down your paint, combine it with water first. A 1:1 ratio works great most of the time, but you should try it on a hidden portion of the furniture to determine whether the paint is too thick. If that’s the case, add a little more water and whisk thoroughly.
  2. Next, thoroughly clean the upholstery’s fabric surface by vacuuming and wiping down all of the portions you intend to paint. Tape off anything you don’t want painted, such as chair legs, at this time.
  3. To dampen a small upholstery part, fill a clean spray bottle halfway with water. To avoid the fabric drying out before you can paint it, dampen it a little at a time and then add more water as you go.
  4. Using a fine-bristled paintbrush, lightly apply the thinned chalk paint. You don’t want to apply a heavy coat of paint since it will crack and peel once it dries.
  5. To get into tight locations like wrinkles or folds in the fabric, use a little brush.
  6. Allow for 24-48 hours of drying time, preferably in direct sunlight.
  7. Slightly sand the paint with extremely fine sandpaper to smooth it out. Using a moist paper towel, wipe away any paint particles.
  8. Follow all of the procedures above to apply another coat of paint if necessary. To achieve color saturation, you may need two or three coats.
  9. Finally, seal the paint to protect it and keep it looking great for longer. The best finish is usually achieved by applying a coat of sealing wax, but you can also use heat, such as direct sunshine or a hot iron.

How To Seal Chalk Paint On Fabric

By employing heat or a layer of transparent wax, you can seal or set chalk paint on fabric. You’ll almost certainly need to use wax for a long-lasting finish. Sealing wax for furniture is a liquid that you use with a paintbrush or a spray can to cover the fabric in a clear coat, exactly like you would spray paint. Many different brands sell wax, including Annie Sloan and Rustoleum.

You should apply the wax according to the directions on the paint can. Allow the wax to cure for the amount of time specified in the instructions.

You may heat set the paint by just leaving the fabric in direct sunshine for a day. Although this procedure does not provide as much protection as using wax, the heat set paint should be able to withstand light use and some scuffing.

You can also use a pressing cloth to apply more heat to the paint. To make sure the paint doesn’t come off on the pressing cloth, try it on a hidden portion of the fabric first.

How Long Does it Take Chalk Paint to Dry On Fabric?

Chalk paint dries quickly on cloth, but it takes 12 to 48 hours to thoroughly dry before sanding or applying another coat of paint. If you apply a sealing layer of wax to your chalk paint, it will stay vivid on fabric for much longer.

If you use a chalk paint color wash to dye your cloth, the dye will not stay colorfast, and you should only wash it gently in cold water.

In general, if you put chalk paint on fabric with a brush or a spray bottle, it will sink into the fibers and stay there for years, as long as you don’t splash boiling water on it or leave it out in the rain unprotected!

How To Soften Chalk Painted Fabric

Sanding after each paint coat and applying the paint in tiny, light layers are two strategies for softening chalk paint. However, you will always be able to feel the paint on the fabric’s surface. When you use chalk paint on velour, the result is a little chalky, matte finish.

Using 100 grit or 220 grit sandpaper after each layer of paint dries is one of the finest ways to soften chalk paint. When you use a paintbrush, the bristles often produce elevated lines of thicker paint. No matter how carefully you whisk the can back and forth, you get small lumps and blobs in there when you use spray paint.

Sanding gets rid of these flaws and evens out the paint on the cloth, resulting in a softer surface with less paint between you and the fibers.

Using watered-down paint or mixing in a fabric medium is another key to a soft chalk paint layer on fabric. Apply many light layers of chalk paint once you have a beautiful thin layer.

You may paint a chair or a couch while keeping it soft by combining these techniques.

Best Chalk Paint for Fabric and Upholstery

No two upcycling artists will agree on which brand of chalk paint is ideal for fabric and upholstery, although Annie Sloan, Rustoleum, Folk Art, and Krylon are among the most popular.

Some businesses have a greater range of color options than others, so you might want to choose based on who sells the colour you want. Annie Sloan, as well as several other companies such as KILZ, offer a wide spectrum of hues.

Alternatively, you could buy paint solely on the basis of cost. Rustoleum or Krylon would probably provide you the greatest bang for your money in this scenario, with a quarter gallon costing less than $10 in most circumstances. For a liter container, high-end brands like Annie Sloan frequently price $37!

How to Make Chalk Paint for Fabric (DIY)

Making your own chalk paint for fabric is the cheapest and most personalized way to create chalk fabric art. Modifying basic acrylic paint is the simplest way to do this. Plus, you can choose from hundreds of thousands of paint colors using this method–all you have to do is go to a Home Depot or Lowes, pick a paint card, and ask an assistant to mix acrylic paint for you!

You’ll also need calcium carbonate and water once you’ve chosen your acrylic paint color. Calcium carbonate is available online and at select health stores.

  1. Fill a throwaway plastic measuring cup, such as the kind found at the dollar shop, with acrylic paint. You’ll need a measuring device to effortlessly add the correct amount of water!
  2. While the proportions of the ingredients can be changed to get a smoother or more lasting finish, a 3:1:1 ratio (one cup of paint, one-third cup of water, and one-third cup of calcium carbonate) is a good starting point.
  3. Use a 2 oz bottle of acrylic paint, one tablespoon of water, and two tablespoons of calcium carbonate for modest projects utilizing only a craft bottle of acrylic paint.
    Mix thoroughly!

Please keep in mind that after you’ve made your paint, you’ll probably need to thin it with water or a fabric medium before putting it to the cloth!

Can You Paint Outdoor Cushions With Chalk Paint?

You may use chalk paint to paint outdoor cushions, but you’ll need to use outdoor chalk paint and a multi-purpose weatherproof sealer. When used outside, the cloth is susceptible to mildew, fading in the sun, and becoming soggy when it rains.

Outdoor chalk paint is available from most major paint companies. This paint is sometimes known as garden chalk paint or external chalk paint. This type of paint can be found on Amazon, at craft stores, and in home improvement stores.

Consider using special outdoor chalk paint with mildew-resistant ingredients to avoid all of these problems. Instead of using the conventional finishing wax for an indoor piece, use a multi-purpose waterproof and UV resistant sealing coat to prevent mildew, mold, and rotting.

How Do You Make Chalk Paint For Upholstery?

Mix acrylic paint with water and plaster of Paris or calcium carbonite to make chalk paint for upholstery. This results in a chalky paint with a matte texture, which is ideal for use on upholstery fabric! The recipe for this paint may be found in the “How to Make Chalk Paint for Fabric” part of this page.

If you wish to use store-bought chalk paint on upholstery, add a lot of water to the mix. Most of the time, you’ll want to make a thin, smooth chalk paint for upholstery by mixing 50 percent paint with 50 percent water. This method can also be done with a professional fabric medium, although water is less expensive and typically works just as well.


On practically any cloth surface, painting fabric with chalk paint layers fascinating, colorful colors. Chalk paint can be used on upholstery, cushions, and even wall hangings! Sand between each layer of paint and use thinned-down paint for light layers to get a soft, smooth chalk paint finish on cloth.

Annie Sloan, Rustoleum, and Folk Art are some of the most popular chalk paint brands. You may also manufacture your own chalk paint by mixing calcium carbonate, water, and acrylic paint in any color you want.

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