How To Revive Your Upholstery

I ran into a problem this weekend with some chairs I recently bought on eBay. I loved the shape and style of the chair, but the upholstery clashed with my room. I looked into reupholstering the chairs and found that it could cost me what I paid for the chairs in the first place. So I hopped online and started researching different ways to change the color of the upholstery without reupholstering. Here's what I found:

  • Upholstery Spray Paint:
    Simply Spray has a fabric spray paint specifically for upholstery. This spray paint is suppose to be soft to the touch after it is applied to upholstery. Simply Spray comes in eight different upholstery colors. From what I've read online, this product is great if you like the colors that are available.

    Cost of Materials: approximately $10 per can of paint which will cover 17 square feet evenly
    Total Cost: Depends on how large of an upholstery surface you will be painting

  • Automotive Upholstery Spray Paint:
    Duplicolor also has a fabric spray paint which is used mostly with auto upholstery, but can also be used on items such as your sofa. There are 10 colors available and can be picked up at your local auto store. However, the directions say that it is best applied when the upholstery is between 70-95 degrees. I tested this product and found that the paint dried a little stiff on my fabric, but the spray can was easy to use.

    Cost of Materials: approximately $8 per can of paint which will cover approximately 20 square feet evenly
    Total Cost: depends on how large of an upholstery surface you will be painting

  • House Paint and Textile Medium:
    This technique requires some latex or acrylic paint found at your local paint store, textile medium which can be found at a craft store, foam brushes and a lot of guts! By combining textile medium with latex or acrylic paint, the paint is able to adhere to the fabric and dries more flexible then regular paint. The benefit of this method is that you have limitless choices of color.

    Here's how to use this method. Read the directions on your textile medium and mix the appropriate amount of medium to the paint color of your choosing. Then using a foam brush, brush the paint onto your fabric. Make sure to blend the paint really well so that you don't end up with paint strokes. If needed use a hairdryer to heat set the paint.

    Cost of Materials: $8 for one quart of paint, $20 for enough textile medium for the quart of paint, $4 for foam brushes
    Total Cost: $32

I used the House Paint and Textile Medium technique on my chairs and love the end result. Now my chairs look better in the room and no one can tell that the chairs are painted.

Be sure to test your paint on a fabric similar to your upholstery before painting on the real thing. Painting your upholstery works best if the paint color you choose is darker than the original color.  If your paint is darker, brush strokes will not be as noticable and only one or two coats of paint are needed.  If you choose a lighter color like I did, expect to apply many coats of paint to hide paint strokes and to get the color you want.

So before you throw out your old sofa, remember that if your upholstery can absorb water, it can be painted!

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I have the same question as your reader below. I bought a chair today on Craigslist and it needs a color change desperately. The wood frame is in perfect condition. I've seen all the color samples of simply spray and don't see a color that will work in my room.
Posted by terri edelsohn
Is your chair stiff-feeling with as many coats as you did? I really want to do this, but I don't want a stiff-feeling piece of furniture!
Posted by joanna