This tutorial about how to paint velour upholstery fabric on an armchair was provided by Alison West of Ayr Brushed.
I have a vintage style old chair, which I love.
I use it every day at my computer, its an old style but not a very old piece in terms of years.
The upholstery is velour and in good shape – it was just the wrong colour for my surroundings.
And, so I decided to paint it.
Painting upholstery fabric is not as scary as it first sounds! It can be a great alternative to reupholstering outdated furniture from scratch. And of course it is much cheaper than buying a new piece of furniture!
If you are nervous maybe start with a thrift store chair rather than a family heirloom!
If you are shopping for secondhand chairs to upcycle and you want to paint the upholstery instead of reupholstering do pay attention to the type of fabric on the chair or other piece of furniture.
It is worth noting that velour fabric is very similar to painting velvet fabric so you can use the tips in this tutorial for either kind of upholstery fabric.
Surprise, surprise – you don’t need special upholstery fabric paint for this project!
FULL DISCLOSURE: Fusion do not recommend painting velour type fabrics, but I like to experiment and thought I would have a go, I’ve had great success with it but I thought I should let you know it isn’t strictly what the product is for!
- How to Upcycle Antique French Fauteuil Chairs – Painting & Upholstery Tutorial
- How to Upcycle an Armchair – Reupholstery Basics
- Armchair Makeover Inspiration – Our Top Upcycled Armchair Ideas
Materials Needed – Velour Armchair
- Paint of your choice (Mineral Paint or Chalk Paint)
- medium paint brush for the fabric
- small paint brush for the detail
- Rub n Buff in your chosen colour
- Sanding sponge
- a bowl for mixing.
Even though I used Fusion Mineral Paint you can also use other brands of mineral paint or chalk paint for a project like this. One good option for chalk paint is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Step 1: Add water (and paint!)
I first wet the fabric with water using a spray bottle to ensure that all the fabric was wet.
I mixed my paint with a 50/50 ratio of parts water to parts paint and applied it all over the fabric, working it in circular motions with a brush.
Because you are diluting it you aren’t actually putting that much paint on the fabric at a time which had the added bonus that you can stretch your paint to cover large projects.
NOTE: If you are a bit more risk averse than me you could decided to test this method on a small area of the surface of the fabric that is less visible (like the back of the chair). I prefer to dive right in so I didn’t stop to test!
What you are doing with this method is staining or dyeing the fabric as opposed to painting the fabric even though you are using paint and not fabric dye…confused?
Don’t stress about what to call this method and just follow the instructions!
I also painted right over all the metal studs as these were to be repainted back in at the end with a different colour.
After the first coat it looked pretty patchy, but don’t let this put you off!
I should maybe have mixed the paint as I went along making sure it didn’t separate, but the patchiness was remedied in the second coat.
Having too little coverage in the first coat of paint is much better than having excess paint!
This is the same with any furniture painting project whether it is wood or upholstery – always use thin coats!
Step 2: Paint the Wood
Whilst the first coat was drying I painted the wooden parts of the chair, it had 2 coats of undiluted paint.
I painted back in all the metal studs using Rub n Buff with a fine artist brush. The colour is metallic Pewter. I also added Pewter to the detailing on the woodwork, there was a lovely floral scroll detail on the top of the chair which you couldn’t see when it was brown, and to the indentations and detailing on its lovely curved legs.
Step 3: Sand and Repeat
Once the first coat was fully dry ( I gave it a couple of hours) I lightly sanded the roughness off the top with a sanding sponge where the paint was sitting on the pile of the fabric.
This is so we can make sure the finished upholstery will have a smooth finish. This is probably the most important step – so don’t skip it!
I then applied a second coat without soaking the fabric this time, but still using a 1 part water to 1 part paint ratio.
Its really messy as you have to lift the fabric folds as you go along so as to get the colour underneath them.
Step 4: Sand and retouch
I left the second coat to dry for several hours then gave it a further light sanding to remove any crispiness.
I touched up any areas around the fabric where I hit them with the second coat.
So I ended up doing only two coats of fabric. If you feel your upholstery needs a third coat just repeat the same process of using a thing coat of diluted water and paint and then sanding it down once it’s dry.
Step 5: Have a seat
The fabric is a little stiffer than originally was but not hard, paint will obviously alter the fabric structure.
I am sitting comfortably on this chair as I type.
I absolutely love it and it was super cost effective as it used up such a small amount of paint – I only used around 6 tablespoons of paint on the fabric (and a lot of hard work) but I am sure you will agree it has made a huge improvement on the piece, and it matches my other furniture perfectly.
It is now a pretty chair with a whole new look – a far cry from the brown vintage chair it started as!
That is what upcycling is all about after all.
I hope I have convinced you that there are different ways to makeover old upholstered chairs besides reupholstering them.
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- Paint of your choice (mineral paint or chalk paint)
- Rub n Buff in your chosen colour
- Medium paintbrush for the fabric
- Small paintbrush for the detail
- Sanding Sponge
- A bowl for mixing
- Mix 1 part water to 1 part paint. I used Fusion Mineral Paint but you can also use other brands of mineral or chalk paint.
- Start with a thin coat applied with a medium sized brush all over the fabric.
- Leave upholstery to dry.
- Sand off roughness and apply a second thin coat.
- Repeat steps 2-4 as many times as needed to get the depth of colour you are looking for.
- Paint the wood surround if desired.
- Highlight details in the wood with Rub n' Buff after painting.
- Enjoy your 'new' upholstered chair!