Painting an upholstered chair with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Helen Edwards Decorating & DIY, Fabric with feeling, Painting, Project Journal, Upcycling Posts, Vintage Decor 114 Comments

before and after


You may have seen this picture on Facebook or Instagram over the weekend of my first ever go painting fabric with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I had read about it and seen some amazing results and decided to have a go with one of the two little bedroom chairs I found on the side of the road recently. I love the shape of these but was not keen on the skirt, and while I love old fashioned patterns in fabrics, was not overly 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.

Here is what I did.

First I sprayed the chair down with some water as one of the tips from Annie Sloan is to make sure the fabric is a little damp and 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.

Then I grabbed a tub of water and the paint so I could keep the paint quite wet. I also use an Annie Sloan brush as they are quality and can 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.



DSC_0770I started with quite thin paint but as I worked I added more paint and less water as I wanted to cover the patterns – not the texture, which I love, but the colours. I had 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!



With the buttons I dabbed and swirled the brush to get right into the depth of the buttons and it seemed to work well. You could also use a smaller brush like a stencil brush on buttons or other deep areas.


I cut off the skirt and trimmed it as much as possible but left a frayed feeling as I liked the Industrial sort of feel 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.




I just love how the embossed pattern and the buttons are highlighted with the paint. It took really only one overall coat but 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.



I used a stippling or dabbing brush stroke to get into the nails on the back and around the seams.



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



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






And the feel of the chair?

At the moment it feels a little like a canvas chair – actually quite comfortable and no paint coming off. I had to go away the day after I did it, so when I am back I will have a review and may try waxing a small area to see what sort of finish that gives too. At the moment I am very happy but the test will be durability and comfort. I will report back!

Definitely loving the look

What do you think? Would you be game enough to give it a try?



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


Comments 114

    1. Post

      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!

  1. 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™‚

  2. 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

    1. Post

      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?

  3. 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˜‰

    1. Post
  4. 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

  5. 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

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

  7. 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™‚

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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™‚

  14. 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?

  15. 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!

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