How to Refinish an Armchair with Chalk Paint

One craft I have always received a lot of joy and excitement from is refinishing furniture! I love being able to take something old and worn out and give it a whole new look and purpose.

I have refinished lots of furniture over the years, using various materials, but I have never painted an armchair.

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This armchair actually has a matching love seat as well, but I started with the smallest piece first, just in case it didn't turn out well. Haha!

I spent a lot of time researching paints to find what would be most appropriate for fabric. Of course they make "fabric paint", so that was always an option, but I also saw that Chalk Paint was recommended for fabrics and furniture.

I did a little more looking around and found that a few people had already tried Chalk Paint for their furniture, so I knew it was a go!

At first I grabbed some spray cans of chalk paint, but then I decided I'd like to paint it on. I'm sure this was the best choice, because the chalk paint really needs to be watered down to make it apply well and keep the fabric pliable.

I ended up choosing Kilz Chalk Style Paint in color Toasted Poppyseed. I love the look of gray furniture! It's the perfect neutral color that can go with any decor, plus it's great when you have children! Although I have to admit, this color did come out a bit darker than I had anticipated.

My chair was a white and green plaid canvas. I knew this may be a bit trickier to cover and hard to keep soft, but in the end, the chair feels just like it did before the paint!

I love the look of plaid, but the colors just weren't for me, so I was thrilled when the print stayed after the paint was added!
Want to chalk paint your old furniture? Here's what I did:

3 - 1 quart cans Chalk Paint (I used Kilz Chalk Style Paint) <--- Different than Chalkboard Paint
1 bottle clear wax (I used FolkArt Home Decor Wax)
Paint Brushes
Sand paper (I used 220 grit)
Dust Masks
Dryer Sheet
Spray Bottle
Paint Pan or Bowl (I used a glass pie plate)
Drop Cloth (I used plastic trash bags, because I forgot to pick up a drop cloth.)
White Vinegar


In the spray bottle: Fill with water 3/4 of the way and fill with White Vinegar for the other 1/4; mix well. White Vinegar softens fabric, plus it's a great cleaner, so it can help eliminate any odors in the chair. This is especially good if you're picking up second hand furniture.

In a bowl: Mix Paint with water. I've seen it suggested to mix it at 1 part paint to 1 part water, but this was too watery for my chair/fabric, so I did 2 parts paint to 1 part water.

Lightly sand the entire chair, including cushion cover, then wipe it off (I just used a dry towel). This softens up the fibers and breaks up any coating that may have been put on the chair.

Spray water & vinegar mixture on the fabric in the area where you're working. Spray lightly, do not soak. - This is for the first layer only.

With paint mixture and paint brush, start painting the area that you have sprayed.

After I had almost finished the backside, I decided I wanted to remove the skirt. This made the chair a little more modern. Bonus, it gave me a little less to paint and sand!

I did this by sliding a flat head screwdriver between the chair and piping and pulling out the staples. Once I got a few staples loose, the trim was able to be pulled right off by hand.

Continue spraying the chair with the spray bottle and painting over the area until the whole chair is finished. Allow this to dry completely, then lightly sand the whole chair. The sanding softens up the paint, because the dry paint becomes hard and crunchy.

Brush off the sanded chair and add the second coat. Once this coat dries, lightly sand again.

Continue layering as instructed until your chair looks the way you want. For the last coat, "sand" it with a dryer sheet. This helps remove any scratchy parts, plus softens up the paint. 


Next you will want to add a wax coat. Make sure the chair is completely dry, then paint over the entire chair with wax (just the way it comes out of the bottle). Be careful not to make the coat to thick, because it will dry white if there's too much. Just grab a rag and wipe off any excess as soon as you put it on to remove it.

Once the wax is set (not just dry, but cured as instructed on the back on the bottle), it's ready for use!

My chair traps the cold, I assume it's the wax layer, but it's still just as soft as it was before the paint and it looks so much better! I love it! And so do the kids!

Another option would be to add upholstery nails where the piping was on the bottom, but I just painted over it and left it as it was. I could always add studs later if I change my mind, because this can be done after the wax layer. 

Well, that's it! I hope this tutorial was easy to follow! Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Written pattern and photographs © 2018 Sonya Blackstone of She's So Creative. Please do not sell, share, or modify this pattern, but instead share the link to where the pattern can be found. You may sell items you make with this pattern. This pattern, as with all She's So Creative/Sonya Blackstone patterns, are not for educational use without written permission from the designer. 
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